MN 911 centers vigilant after Dallas call centers face issues

Problems impacting Dallas' 911 system, which may have led to at least two deaths, have workers at Minnesota emergency call centers staying vigilant for similar issues.

According to Fox 9's affiliate, City of Dallas officials now believe the issue stems from abandoned calls from people hanging up or being disconnected in large numbers.

Officials originally thought "ghost calls" or unintentional, automatic calls from T-Mobile phones were the cause of the problem.

City leaders are still investigating why the call surges are happening. Until the issue is fixed, more call takers will be on duty.

The backup of calls at the Dallas centers may have led to at least two deaths.

Saturday night six-month-old Brandon Alex died after his babysitter couldn’t reach anyone through 911. The sitter called 911 three times. After 31 minutes on hold the sitter still couldn’t get through. At the time, there was a spike in calls because phones were making “ghost calls” to 911.

Police are still investigating whether the boy's death was directly linked to the phone issue.

The fix may be too late for Dallas Voice reporter David Taffet. Taffet says he lost his husband Brian Cross during an earlier spike of "ghost calls." Taffet says after Cross stopped breathing and he was on hold with 911 for nearly half an hour." Cross stopped breathing March 6 during an earlier spike of “ghost calls.”

Taffet and Cross just got married last June.

“My husband died a week ago Monday,” Taffet said to Dallas city leaders during a press conference earlier this week, “How many others died?”

Now, Minnesota officials are alerting their emergency centers of the potential problem.

None of Minnesota’s 104 911 call centers appear to have experienced the same issue recently or in the past. 

Department of Public Safety officials nevertheless ask the call centers to stay vigilant.

Emergency Communication Networks 911 Program Manager Dana Wahlberg released the following statement:

The Department of Public Safety's division of Emergency Communication Networks (DPS-ECN) is not aware of any instances of T-Mobile calls overwhelming Minnesota 911 call centers. Earlier today, DPS-ECN alerted all 104 Minnesota 911 call centers to the issue. DPS-ECN is also requesting 911 call centers report any similar situations as what was described in Dallas, whether it be with T-Mobile or any other carriers.