March 16 (UPI) — T-Mobile and officials in Dallas said they are prioritizing fixing a “ghost call” glitch affecting the city’s 911 call center, which is being blamed for the death of a 6-month-old baby.
T-Mobile and Dallas officials first knew in November of the technology glitch that tripped “ghost calls” to dispatchers and placed legitimate 911 callers on hold for an average of 38 minutes at its worst.
The company and officials thought the problem was fixed in January, but the problem surged again in March. On March 6, 360 emergency calls were placed on hold, the Dallas manager wrote in a memo. Days later on Saturday, 442 calls were placed on hold for an average of 38 minutes.
On Tuesday, Bridget Alex said her 6-month-old son Brandon died after falling off a bed Saturday night after her babysitter’s repeated calls to 911 went unanswered.
“I lost my 6-month-old because 911 did not respond,” Alex said Tuesday. “There’s no excuse that you can give me to take that pain away.”
Local blogger David Taffet — whose own 911 call went unanswered for 20 minutes on March 6 after his husband Brian Cross stopped breathing and subsequently died — on Wednesday asked Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at a press conference: “How many others have died?”
Rawlings had no answer but he shared his condolences, as he did for Alex.
“My heart is broken for the loss of a loved one, and I’m sorry for you as well,” Rawlings said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this. I promised her that, and I promise you this.”
On Wednesday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he sent his top engineers to resolve the issue. Rawlings previously called the unresolved glitch “outrageous.”
The “ghost call” glitch occurs when T-Mobile customers call 911. Their phones sometimes for unknown reasons repeatedly call 911 while they sit on hold. Those calls register as hang-ups, forcing operators to return each hang-up call to verify if there is a legitimate emergency and causing further delays in responding to legitimate calls.
“Public safety of our citizens is my most important priority,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement on Wednesday. “I will not be satisfied until this T-Mobile 911 challenge is completely fixed.”
The investigation in Dallas follows Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announcing his agency is investigating an AT&T outage affecting the ability of customers to call 911 earlier this month.