DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – David Taffet of Dallas called 911 on Monday evening, March 6 as he tried to revive his husband Brian Cross. “I was doing chest compressions because Brian was unconscious.”
But he was put on hold. “After about five minutes, it disconnected. Called back and it was another 15 minutes before I finally got through to anybody.”
The city blamed delays on technical problems caused by T-Mobile’s cell network and low staffing in Dallas’ 911 call center.
New records CBS 11 obtained through an open records request show just how low staffing was the night Taffet frantically tried to get through to 911.
CBS 11 showed the records to Taffet. “My reaction is horrified.”
They show the daily staffing requirement March 6 during the third watch, 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., was 22 911 call takers.
But only 11 came to work during the third watch, when Taffet dialed 911.
The city called in two call takers, bringing the total to 13 — still nine short of the daily staffing requirement.
The city’s goal is to have 90 percent of its 911 calls answered within ten seconds.
On the night of March 6, records show that percentage fell to below four percent.
Even though Taffet says it took 20 minutes to reach a 911 operator, he says once he did, it took paramedics just three minutes to arrive.
They didn’t have far to take him. Parkland is just a couple of blocks away. It can be seen from the front parking lot of Taffet’s complex.
Taffett says, “He was completely unconscious at the time so there was no way for me to get him there myself. All I could do is try to revive him.”
Bridget Alex shares a similar story with Taffet.
Her six-month-old son Brandon died Saturday night, March 11. “Why did it take for me to lose my son?”
She says her son’s babysitter called 911 three times that night, and was on hold for more than half an hour.
Records show the daily staffing requirement at the 911 call center March 11, during the third watch when the babysitter called, was 23 911 call takers. But only 12 call takers came to work.
So the city called in three more, bringing the total to 15 911 call-takers — still eight short of the daily staffing requirement.
Again, the city’s goal of having 90 percent of 911 calls answered within ten seconds fell far short March 11: Just over three percent.
Alex says, “I don’t want anyone to have to bury anyone else because of the fact they can’t get through to 911.”
The city says since that time, the 911 call center’s performance has improved.
Last Saturday, May 6, nearly 93 percent of the 911 calls were answered within ten seconds.
The Dallas Police Department is in the process of hiring as many 911 call takers as possible.
The department has also transferred community policing officers into the 911 call center temporarily to help fill staffing positions until the new hires arrive.
During a briefing before the Dallas City Council last month, police and city administrators admitted they didn’t keep up with filling positions to the level the council had budgeted.