T-Mobile Executives Tackle Dallas 911 Problem After Deaths Blamed on Call Delays

T-Mobile equipment blamed for troublesome 911 calls

Executives with cell phone provider T-Mobile joined Dallas city officials Wednesday to accept responsibility for a 911 problem blamed since last fall on the company's equipment.

"Clearly we share this obligation, this responsibility with the city management leadership as well as the mayor's office in a very sincere and deep way," said T-Mobile Executive Vice President David Carey.

Attention to the problem peaked with Saturday's death of 6-month-old Brandon Alex.

The child died after his babysitter could not reach 911 operators for nearly an hour. The babysitter had no car, and when the mother returned from a funeral, she raced the child to a hospital. He later died.

His mother, Bridget Alex, blames the 911 problem.

"This has been going on since November. It took me to lose my son for y'all to call extra people, extra techs to be here. It took me to lose my six-month-old son? Why did my child have to be the example?" Alex said.

Wednesday, another person came forward claiming his loved one also died after being on hold with 911.

Brian Cross stopped breathing while taking a nap on March 6, according to his husband, David Taffet. The couple married in June.

Taffet says he dialed 911 while starting CPR but says he was cut off and had to call back. He says he was on hold for 20 minutes until he finally reached an operator.

"Get it right and fix it. I just don't want this to happen to somebody else," Taffet said.

Taffet, a writer for Dallas Voice magazine, confronted city leaders at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

City officials do not accept responsibility for the deaths, but Mayor Mike Rawlings did issue an apology for the problem.

"I'm sorry and we are going to do better as a city," Rawlings said. "We need immediate answers and we need to do everything we can to fix this."

Officials said the troublesome 911 calls was first detected in October and spiked in November. The call center has been flooded with what appear to be hang up calls. Operators must call the numbers back to be sure there is no emergency, wasting valuable time.

"So when somebody with a legitimate 911 call tries to get in a call for service usually, they're made to wait an extended period of time," said Deputy Police Chief Jesse Reyes.

The calls are coming from T-Mobile equipment.

"We thought we had the issue resolved in January, but then February it became even worse, and we have been dealing with it since then," Reyes said.

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax officially started his new job in February, but he said the buck stops with him on this. He said the staff of call takers is being increased with police officers who have experience in dispatch.

"I want to assure and share with the public that I take full responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the city and our 911 call center," Broadnax said.

The problem was not fixed Wednesday, but the T-Mobile people promise it will be.

"We will stay on this until it is fully resolved and everybody can rest comfortably that when they call 911, that their call and emergency request for help will be addressed immediately," Carey said.

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