Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Where's 911
A 911 emergency for a South Florida family. They called three times with no answer and the reason may lie behind the phone used to make the call. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Claudia Arenas experienced two things that would terrify any mother.
First, her 2-year-old son Danny was having a seizure and second, when she called 911 for help she says nobody answered.
Claudia Arenas: "Horrible, it's the most terrifying..It was bad."
Claudia says she and her two older sons each dialed 911 from different cell phones.
The logs from two of those phones indicate outgoing calls for 49 seconds, 7 seconds and 14 seconds.
Claudia Arenas: "It was three cell phones, it was three different people trying to dial out, more than once, and not one call was picked up. To me it seemed like forever."
The family decided to drive Danny to a fire station close to their home.
There, a crew took the toddler to the hospital.
Claudia Arenas: "I handed him over to the firefighter, he was still shaking. They were surprised, and they asked me why did you drive here, and did you call 911? I said 'yes, no answer,' and the firefighter was surprised."
Danny has recovered, but his family has questions about why their calls to 911 were not answered.
Dispatcher: "Miami-Dade Police and Fire, what is the address of your emergency?"
Lieutenant Efren Lopez with the Miami-Dade Police Department's Communications Bureau says after reviewing the Arenas case.
None of the family's calls rang repeatedly in the center and that they hung up too quickly.
Lieutenant Efren Lopez: "It showed up as one ring, and abandoned, and those were all 3 phone calls."
Lopez says he cannot account for the time disparity between what the family's phones show and what his center received.
But he says it could be the result of how a cell call is routed to a dispatch center.
When you dial, a call goes to a cell tower, then a switching location, and finally to a 911 center.
Lieutenant Efren Lopez: "It could be a problem. It may give the perception to the individuals that the 911 center is not operational or there is an issue at the 911 center, when it's actually taking a while for the 911 center to receive the call. Everybody has to realize, that there is still going to be some delay."
Miami-Dade provided recordings of calls it says were made from dispatchers back to the family in the minutes after little Danny had the seizure.
But no messages were left and Claudia says the family never received those calls.
Claudia Arenas: "That's crazy, what if we were in a crash, what if we were unconscious trying to reach 911 and nobody could find us, you know, it's scary."
The message from emergency officials, do not hang up the phone.
Lieutenant Efren Lopez: "Continue to let it ring, and stay there."
But in an emergency, when seconds count that can be easier said than done.
If there's something you think Carmel should investigate, send an e-mail to clue@wsvn.Com.