DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Emergency 911 recordings released Friday by Dallas Police reveal frustration from both callers and operators while a home burned to the ground earlier this week in Oak Cliff.
While the Oak Cliff fire raged, dozens of callers were placed on hold, including the family whose house was destroyed.
In one of the first calls to give the fire department an idea there was a fire, the caller knew the house was on Berwick, but the operator had difficulty understanding the cross street, Sussex.
As operators continued to attempt to answer more calls, they only got beeps, indicating the caller had hung up. One recording captures an operator who identifies himself as Lee saying, “Come on you’ve got to be freaking kidding me. Four in a row hangups?”
Lee then was able to call back one of those callers, who provided an exact address of the home.
In another recording, a caller who got through reacted with anger.
“I see y’all finally answered the (expletive) phone. There’s a fire over here man, on Berwick Avenue,” he said.
“We got it,” the operator responded. “That’s why we can’t get out there cause so many people are calling from that area.”
In all, some 44 callers were placed on hold. The Fuller family, the owners of the home that burned down, blame its destruction on the delayed response.
They say they encountered six minutes of busy signals when they tried to call 911.
The city says the problems started after 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday when 177 emergency calls were made during the usually busy Fourth of July holiday.
There were four extra call takers in addition to the nine typically on duty at that hour.
Still, dozens of emergency callers found themselves on hold.
The police department says it’s conducting an internal review but that’s offered little comfort to a family that lost everything while waiting for help to arrive.
Department officials said a packet of information would answer questions about the number of call takers the department has had on duty in previous Fourth of July holidays and other staffing issues that so far they haven’t addressed. That packet though was not released with the recordings Friday.