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  1. #1
    Forum Member RyanEMVFD's Avatar
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    Angry Who do you call when 911 doesn't answer?

    Family says 911 didn't answer while house burned
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    January 7, 2005
    Imagine calling 911 and nobody answers. That's what a Beverly Hills family says happened to them when their house caught fire Thursday night.

    The damage was contained to inside the house, but the family says when they first called 911, they let it ring five times before hanging up. Stella Sais says when she called back, she let it ring seven to nine times before hanging up.


    Waco 911 officials acknowledge they received two calls, but they say the calls were immediate hang-ups. They did notify the Beverly Hills Police Department of the hang-ups.


    The Waco 911 call center takes more than 400 calls a day and officials say they can't put calls on hold to answer other calls. Officials say there is possibility it could ring 20 to 30 times before someone answers. But they say there will never be a time when a 911 operator won't answer.


    Waco Assistant Police Chief Clare Crook says, "Stay on the phone. It may seem like it’s ringing forever. It may, but that's not necessarily what's happening. Don't call and hang up, call and hang up, call and hang up..."


    There is no state law stating a 911 operator has to pick-up before a certain number of rings. The average here is three to five rings before an operator picks up. As for the Sais family, they are staying with other family members.








    This happened here in my county. Still waiting to here if anything comes of it.
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  2. #2
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Dumb.......................... ......

    Ryan, NOTHING should come of it. The dummy called 911 and hung up before an operator answered. That's not 911's fault. We've had cases here, where people call 911 and get a busy signal. We make it VERY CLEAR, whenever there is a complaint or problem, that the Fire Department has NO control over the 911 system. (Glad we do not run the 911 center, that way, it's their problem, no matter what)Once a call is forwarded to the FD Dispatcher, THEN we assume responsibility for what happens after that. Example: 911 operator answers a call at 12:00 and hands it off to the FD dispatcher at 12:06, The call is dispatched at 12:07, apparatus is on the street at 12:08 and arrives at 12:10. Someone says it took too long for the FD to arrive. We're only responsible for the 4 minutes between 12:06 and 12:10. Get my drift?
    Last edited by hwoods; 01-10-2005 at 04:20 PM.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who do you call when 911 doesn't answer?

    Originally posted by RyanEMVFD
    ...they let it ring five times before hanging up. Stella Sais says when she called back, she let it ring seven to nine times before hanging up.
    Well gee. Obviously it is 911's fault the caller hung up before they got an answer. Idiot.
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  4. #4
    Forum Member BFDNJFF's Avatar
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    should w3e even go any further on this notice the location of the home "Beverly Hills" it definately was 911's fault !!!lol not
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  5. #5
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Beverly Hills, Texas.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  6. #6
    Forum Member gunstar34's Avatar
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    I work at a 911 cntr here in NY, some systems rings thru a computer to ID were they are calling from before it rings on the console, that could take up to 4 or 5 rings on a house phone. the golden rule is to try and answer it before the 3rd ring for that exact reason
    put the wet stuff on the hot stuff.

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  7. #7
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Exclamation I beg to differ

    Actually something should come of it. It's not the FD's fault, no doubt.

    However, if that had happened here, someone would've paid for it with their job. BHPD was notified, so to me, the burden rests with them.

    We follow-up on ALL 911 calls, including "abandoned" calls such as this. If there is no answer, a police response is initiated to investigate.

    Even though the person hung-up prior to speaking with an operator, MOST 911 systems keep the line "ringing" until someone answers it, and at this point, it shows that the call has been "abandoned" (other end hung-up).

    Personally, prior to calling back, I check to see if we have any past history at the number/address. Then I place a call to see what is going on. REGARDLESS of how I feel, I still let a field unit know, and I place the burden on them. You'd be surprised at how many of them opt to make contact with people, even if I tell them that a parent was apologizing for their child playing with the phone.

    Ignore where this took place, and what the specifics were (fire). What if it were a rape in progress, and the suspect hung up the phone before anyone answered?

    I've heard the excuses: "we're too busy to be following up on all 911 calls", etc. These should be priority responses, imho.

    And 20-30 rings? Staffing issue...


    Silent calls, abandoned calls, vague calls, and TTY calls... all personnel need to understand that these have the potential to be AS SERIOUS as the caller who is screaming for help. In my experiences, they're often MORE serious. And I'm not trying to be holier-than-them... I've made mistakes, and will make more. Hopefully we all learn from the mistakes that are shared on here.
    Last edited by Resq14; 01-10-2005 at 06:35 PM.
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  8. #8
    Forum Member RyanEMVFD's Avatar
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    A little more input is needed I guess. In the initial story there was a dispute between who should have answered the 911 call. Also the house on fire was located right behind the police station/fire station.
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  9. #9
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    The 911 call comes into Waco.

    They notified BHPD of a hang-up.

    BHPD is now responsible.

    We don't know if Waco 911 tried to call back, that would be nice to know. We also don't know what BHPD chose to do, but it seems like they chose to do nothing. More information would definetly be nice to "explain" this break-down.
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  10. #10
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    I don't know if their system can track the number before they pick up...however...During certian hours even we send an Engine Company to a no-contact ERS box(Pull box with console to talk to the Fire Alarm Disp'er). Also if a dispatcher doesn't pick up within a certain amount of time they automaticly send an Engine perhaps the whole box assignment...I can't recall precicely.

    Perhaps the just need to adjust policies for situations such as this. Then again...there is only so much you can compensate for peoples stupidity.

    FTM-PTB

  11. #11
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RyanEMVFD
    A little more input is needed I guess. In the initial story there was a dispute between who should have answered the 911 call. Also the house on fire was located right behind the police station/fire station.
    So... they could cut through the yard and alert the PD/FD verbally?

    [size=huge] D'oh![/size]
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 01-10-2005 at 08:17 PM.
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  12. #12
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    They told the police about the 911 hangups. I don't know if the 911 call-taker tried to call the number back. Somehow, I doubt it would matter since the people were probably running out the door anyway, if the phone wasn't already on fire.

    So, the result of this would be:

    1. The police would arrive and notice the house is on fire.

    or

    2. Someone else calls 911 and says "the neighbor's house is on fire!!"

    Either way, this article is nothing more than an attempt to make an agency look bad and rile people up to buy their paper and read the story. The way the story reads, there was nothing done wrong on the part of anyone involved in public safety. The only mistakes were on the part of the homeowner. Period.
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  13. #13
    Forum Member gunstar34's Avatar
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    a similar incident accured here, Hangup with no answer on callback, sent a local patrol, he rolls up (volunteer fireman who works as a cop) and req. thru police disp for a 2nd alarm response, house is fully invovled with fire.
    put the wet stuff on the hot stuff.

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  14. #14
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    The way the story reads, there was nothing done wrong on the part of anyone involved in public safety. The only mistakes were on the part of the homeowner. Period.
    Again, I disagree. Someone dropped the ball... the police arriving and seeing a fire is better than nothing.

    SILENT, ABANDONED, TTY, AND VAGUE CALLS TO 911 MUST BE FOLLOWED-UP ON. This is hammered into people as part of initial training. It does not sound like it is the Waco 911 center's fault, as they forwarded the incident to a police agency. Granted, we don't have a breakdown of times, attempted call backs, etc. BHPD is probably where the answers can be found.

    Some agencies do roll police, fire, and EMS on these calls. Is it the best use of resources? I'd say no. A police response is better than nothing, as you are at least determining if there is an emergency. Sure, it might delay FD/EMS, but it is definetly better than nothing.

    The outcome might not have been any different in this specific circumstance if a police officer had been sent. Maybe it would've.. who knows? What about the next call? That could've just as easily been a murder in progress.

    My point is, you should not operate a 911/dispatch center this way, and that something wrong DID occur. If you do, the cost will be measured in lives.

    Waco 911 might want to review their staffing levels if they feel 30 rings is acceptable. That would never fly around here.
    Last edited by Resq14; 01-11-2005 at 02:35 AM.
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  15. #15
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Resq14
    Again, I disagree. Someone dropped the ball...
    Originally posted by Resq14
    We also don't know what BHPD chose to do, but it seems like they chose to do nothing.
    WHERE! Please point out WHERE in this article it says anything that would indicate this? It doesn't say the police didn't respond, it doesn't say how the fire department was ultimately notified. It doesn't say ANYTHING else other than the emotional BS to rile people up. Your making this up in your head and crucifying another agency, one which you obviously know nothing about. So, how about some facts to back up these claims of malfesence... either that or shut it. I wouldn't want to be the dispatcher that handled this incident knowing there is someone hundreds of miles away pretending he knows everything based on one poorly written BS newspaper article. I doubt you would want that either.
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  16. #16
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    911 hangups in my town get a phone call from the police department. If no answer or busy signal on the first try, a police car shows up within a minute or two. I know this from personal experience. 3 year olds like the noise a phone makes.
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  17. #17
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Stones, glass house, etc.

    Originally posted by nmfire
    this article is nothing more than an attempt to make an agency look bad and rile people up to buy their paper and read the story.
    Why do people always say that newspaper stories are written so folks will buy the paper? Talk about posting something you know nothing about!

    In most respectible newspapers, the news division is completely seperate from the advertising division. Stories are usually written based on what the news division thinks are the important topics of the day -- not what will "sell papers."

    Additionally, unless a story is the top story of day or in the subject of great public interest... it has little chance of boosting rack sales. The paper only has the top of the front page to "sell" the day's edition with. Unless a story is above the fold where folks can see it, it's not going to draw in the occasional newspaper buyer.

  18. #18
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Arrow And now, on to the topic at hand...

    There does appear to be something terribly wrong when an agency isn't staffed to handle 911 calls. Maybe I'm just being idealistic, but a 911 call should be answered before 20 rings.

    As to the incident in question, part of the training we give to people is to call 911 and not hang up! The family whose house was on fire had time to call twice... so they should have had time to stay on the line the first time and wait for an answer.

    Fortunately for my city, if all of our 911 lines are in use or if a call goes unanswered (unsure on the # of rings)... it rolls over to the county dispatch. So, someone should always answer.

  19. #19
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    I guess I took the story to mean there was no response, nm, and that no one followed-up on the call. I re-read it several times, and you are right... it does not address this. I think I covered myself when I wrote, "BHPD is probably where the answers can be found." I'm not throwing punches at Waco 911. If BHPD was notified and they responded, I'll eat my words, except for the ones dissing 30 rings.

    A problem with many 911 systems is that there isn't a "time out" on rings so that after x-rings, the call is kicked to a backup PSAP. I'd like to see 5 rings then it gets shipped to the next PSAP.

    Another problem with hanging up and redialing, mainly for systems that use queued answering, is that your call gets dropped to the bottom of the queue everytime. Based on the equipment I saw, I don't believe Waco utilizes such a system, but I'm not sure.

    Sorry that I read into the story.
    Last edited by Resq14; 01-11-2005 at 11:00 AM.
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