Dallas officials now say abandoned calls a source of 911 woes


The city of Dallas has backed away from its claim that a T-Mobile “ghost calling” glitch had flooded the city’s 911 call center and resulted in hundreds of calls being placed on hold.

Authorities initially believed that T-Mobile phones were somehow inundating 911 with ghost calls, which were automatically generated by a phone unbeknownst to its owner.

But officials said Thursday that it was actually abandoned 911 calls that were a source of the problem.

Callers would hang up after dialing 911 and dispatchers were then obligated to return the call to determine if there was an emergency. But that created a long backlog of calls.

Additional dispatchers will be added until changes can be implemented, including technological upgrades.

Officials have been criticized for delayed emergency responses that might have contributed to the deaths of two people.

Dallas resident David Taffet confronted Mayor Mike Rawlings at a news conference Wednesday to say it took 20 minutes to get through to 911 after his husband stopped breathing last week. At one point, Taffet was disconnected. He was placed on hold when he called back. Paramedics promptly arrived after he finally got through, but his husband later died at a hospital.

“I was just doing chest compressions on my husband and the call just dropped. I had to call back,” said Taffet, who at one point asked of the mayor, “How many others died?”

Rawlings said he apologized to the mother of a 6-month-old child who died during the weekend after falling from a bed. The child’s baby sitter tried calling 911 three times but kept being placed on hold.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax said Wednesday that at one point last week the city had 360 calls on hold.

The city this week is increasing staffing levels at its 911 center and authorizing overtime shifts to ensure calls are being answered.

Rawlings said the problem means the city isn’t performing one of its core functions: ensuring people’s safety.

“As you can well imagine this situation is very frustrating,” he said, adding, “This is the No. 1 priority we’re facing right now as a city.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: Killeen teacher put duct tape over 5th graders’ mouths, school officials say
JUST IN: Killeen teacher put duct tape over 5th graders’ mouths, school officials say

A substitute teacher at Maxdale Elementary School in Killeen was removed from campus on Thursday after putting duct tape over the mouths of ten fifth-graders for several minutes. Killeen Independent School district spokesman Terry Abbott said in a statement on Thursday afternoon that three other students also put duct tape over their own mouths as...
Fugitive turns himself in, with doughnuts, after issuing challenge to police
Fugitive turns himself in, with doughnuts, after issuing challenge to police

A man made good on his promise to turn himself in to police in Michigan this week with a box of doughnuts in-hand after he challenged officers to get a Facebook post shared 1,000 times after taunting the department on social media. “You guys suck!” wrote 21-year-old Michael Zaydel, who goes by the name “Champagne Torino” on...
Travis County murder defendant flees ahead of next week’s trial
Travis County murder defendant flees ahead of next week’s trial

A Travis County murder defendant who is set to go to trial next week has gone missing after he failed to report to a pretrial hearing on Thursday. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Kevin Michael Waguespack, who was out of jail on $250,000 bond. He is accused of killing his girlfriend Catherine Dyer, 31, in November 2015 in the home they shared...
Early voting starts on 7 changes to Texas Constitution
Early voting starts on 7 changes to Texas Constitution

Early voting begins Monday for the chance to tack seven new amendments onto the Texas Constitution, which has already been amended 491 times since its birth in 1876, making it one of the longest such documents in the nation. The proposed amendment that has gained the most notice is Proposition 6, which would allow tax breaks for the spouses of police...
Later live music hours to continue on Red River, at least until April
Later live music hours to continue on Red River, at least until April

Austin will take another six months to test later nighttime music hours on Red River Street, after disparate interests agreed the program was going swimmingly. Even Mary Ingle, president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council, who in January argued passionately that Red River music ruined her quality of life and brought Lady Gaga to her living room, said...
More Stories