Reaching emergency services immediately with a single phone call is supposed to be a hallmark of a modern, civilized society. In the USA, the 911 emergency system has saved thousands of lives over the years. However, it is dependent on operators being diligent and doing their jobs properly at all times.
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That process fell apart at one Houston, Texas 911 call center over the last couple of years.
Thousand of calls were dropped which resulted in people being injured, and, in some cases, dying.
What is even more disturbing is that when investigators started tracking down the problem at the call center, they tracked thousands of dropped calls to a single operator, 43 year old Crenshanda Williams.
In one case, after the initial story about Williams came out, Buster Pendley came forward and said Williams hung up on him after trying to get help for his wife, who had just collapsed and lost consciousness. She was suffering from a blood clot in her lung and was in serious danger.
After Williams, disconnected the call, Pendley called 911 back and was connected with a different operator who immediately sent an ambulance for his wife. Luckily, she survived, but the incident certainly put her in unnecessary danger.
“The 911 operator answered the phone, and she said, ‘This is Crenshanda, may I help you?‘ Wife’s passed out I need an ambulance,” Pendley said. “She said OK, and she hangs up on me.”
“I was furious cause he didn’t tell me what happened, cause I would have, I mean I would have gotten from my hospital bed and gone to 911 and find out who did that to me.”
According to Click2Houston:
In one case, Williams allegedly hung up on Hua Li, an engineer who called to report a robbery in progress on March 12. Li said he had been buying lottery tickets at a RaceWay convenience store on FM 1960 West at Mills Road, when a gunman entered and tried to force his way through the door of a glassed-in security area behind the counter. As two clerks attempted to block the door, Li says he ran from the store and heard several gunshots on his way out. When he got to his car, he called 911 for help.
“They just said, ‘This is 911. How can I help you?’ I was trying to finish my sentence, and we got disconnected,” Li said.
Police said that Williams was the 911 operator, and that she terminated the call within a few seconds.
Williams has not only lost her position as an operator, but she is now facing criminal charges. She is charged with two counts of interference with an emergency telephone call. The charges are both misdemeanors which could carry up to a year in jail each along with a $4,000 fine each.
Perhaps most disturbing is the reasons that Williams gave when she was asked why she disconnected so many calls, resulting in so much suffering. Williams gave investigators the following reason for hanging up on people: “…that she often hangs up on calls that have not been connected because she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.”
Most of the calls took place between October 2015 and March 2016.