After a group of people said they had trouble contacting 9-1-1 to report a fire over the weekend, another woman says they’re not alone.
Tonya Gore says her calls to 9-1-1 were a matter of life and death, but on more than one occasion the phone just kept ringing.
Gore says twice last month her unanswered calls nearly cost her husband his life. Her husband suffers from the lung disease COPD. Last month she called 9-1-1 when he was having difficulty breathing.
“It took at least five calls to get anybody to answer. My mom was actually on a land line phone trying at the same time,” Gore said.
A few weeks later it happened again. This time Gore says it took more than 10 calls before someone answered. “My husband was turning blue by the time the paramedics got there because of having to call so many times.”
Tuesday we tried to call 9-1-1 administration for answers, and it took a while before they returned our calls, too.
9-1-1 communications manager Debora Cottle says unanswered calls are often the result of the system being flooded with calls. “If you do run into that situation where 9-1-1 does not answer, if you know the seven digit number, call the seven digit number, if not dial 0, get your operator and let them know that you’ve tried to dial 9-1-1 and it’s not getting through and you need assistance and have them try to connect you.”
In New Hanover County the seven digit number is 452-6120. She also says operators will call back any hang-ups.
Cottle urges people not to give up calling 9-1-1 if they are in an emergency. Those calls get priority. “Our non emergency numbers roll over, so if the first number is busy it automatically rolls over to the second. The same thing happens to our twelve 9-1-1 lines.”
But Gore is worried that waiting for a 9-1-1 operator to answer could cost someone their life. “Makes me feel like people don’t care, I mean somebody could die because of that situation, it’s heartless.”
As we told you yesterday, a group of neighbors near Monkey Junction said they had trouble getting through to 9-1-1 operators over the weekend.
Emergency Management Director Warren Lee told us he is investigating that situation, but would not comment further until he can interview the operators who were on duty.
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