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Ghost Calls Causing Delays In 911 Operator Response Times

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DALLAS (CBSMiami) – A Dallas babysitter called 911 three times Saturday night but she never got through to a dispatcher at the call center located at City Hall.

More people are stepping forward, saying the problem is a matter of life and death.

Bridget Alex left her son Brandon at home Saturday with a babysitter when the six month old fell and stopped breathing.

The 40-year-old babysitter called 911 at 5:55 p.m. and again at 5:57 but was put on hold each time.

She was on hold with 911 for more than 30 minutes and never got through to a dispatcher.

“There’s really no apology,” Alex said. “There’s nothing they can say to heal the pain that’s in my heart that I have to bury my six month old son on Monday.”

The grieving mother says she wants an explanation.

“It’s not acceptable that that happened,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “And we’ve got to make sure that it never happens again.”

Mayor Rawlings said Wednesday that hundreds of “ghost calls” have jammed the city’s 911 system for months.

These so-called “ghost calls” are made to 911 unintentionally by mobile devices on the T-Mobile network, and are unknown to the caller.

The calls then appear on a dispatcher’s screen as hang-ups.

By law, dispatchers have to call those numbers back, which bottlenecks the system.

T-Mobile executive David Carey says they first started to notice the problem last fall.

“We took some changes into the system that we actually thought had arrested the problem and cured it out,” Carey said.

But on Saturday the city says it experienced a spike of more than 400 ghost calls.

“We will stay on this until it is full resolved,” said Carey.

David Taffet, a reporter for the Dallas Voice, called 911 on March 6th after his husband Brian Cross stopped breathing.

Taffet says he waited 20 minutes before a 911 operator answered his call. Cross died at the hospital.

“I can’t believe that it’s just this week that people are dying as a result of this,” said Taffet, who added that he believes there are other stories like his out there.

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