Dallas, Texas, is experiencing a serious issue that can lead to lost lives and increased criminal activity: hundreds of people calling 911 are on hold for more than 20 minutes.
Dallas Morning News reports that on Monday night, over 300 callers were waiting to talk to a 911 representative. Rep. Helen Giddings was among one of the callers. She called 911 after a friend passed away, but like hundreds of others, couldn’t get through to report it.
“I was told that all operators are busy please do not hang up. We will get to your call as fast as we can. It took me 26 minutes to get an answer. I just couldn’t believe it happened. It was like something from a movie.”
According to Dallas police, phone carrier T-Mobile is to blame. Apparently, when people using T-Mobile phones call 911, their phones dial 911 numerous times, tying up the lines. Callers are told to call back over and over by an automated system. The city of Dallas is aware of the situation. In fact, it’s been going on since 2016.
More than 300 Dallas 911 callers on hold including a State Representative https://t.co/zcmi0TSch4 pic.twitter.com/SEIJBONZzL
— WFAA-TV (@wfaachannel8) March 7, 2017
“This is unacceptable,” said Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax. “We will continue putting pressure on T-Mobile on a daily basis until they solve this problem before this issue results in a life being lost because we could not respond to a call in time.”
Why hasn’t T-Mobile resolved the issue? It’s not from lack of trying on Dallas’ end. Dallas PD already put in several formal complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and released public statements on the issue. The problem was escalated to T-Mobile’s management, yet the problem still remains.
WFAA reports that Benito Moriel, a T-Mobile customer, stated he called 911 after a fire started near the Dallas Zoo, and was placed on hold for more than an hour after an automated voice told him to call back numerous times.
“This is the first time. I never even knew they had a machine that would like answer the phone. I felt like I was calling water utility, and I am like, ‘What is happening here? How is this even possible?’”
T-Mobile reportedly continues to deny interview requests with WFAA, a local Dallas news station. The station reports that the T-Mobile directs them to call the Dallas police instead.
The story is still developing. Check back later for updates.