‘You're Supposed to Be There for Us': Dallas 911 System Remains a Gamble for Callers

Two frantic callers dialed 911 that warm spring evening.The calls came from the same Dallas address, the very same apartment, just hours apart.One ended with a rescue. The other ended in a baby’s death.The two calls illustrate a problem that played out across the city for months last fall and into this year. Thousands of people a day called 911 expecting a swift answer. Only some of them got it.The latest crisis has highlighted longstanding and fundamental shortcomings in the city’s emergency call system — and they are still not fixed, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found.The 911 center is so severely understaffed that the city has spent more than $400,000 in overtime in recent months just to get the phones answered. Its technology is outdated. Its management has been poor.These lapses left the 911 system unable to cope when its operations clashed with the technology at a single cellphone company, T-Mobile and its subsidiary MetroPCS. That company gave 911 operators just a short time to answer before it activated a backup system that inadvertently overwhelmed the emergency-call center, our investigation found.  Continue reading...

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