T-Mobile 'ghost calls' are disrupting a 911 call center in Dallas

It seems a 911 call center in Dallas has had persistent troubles with 'ghost calls' from T-Mobile, and that problem may have led to at least two deaths as backlogs prevented legitimate calls from getting through. The problem is said to have been ongoing since November 2016, with an attempted fix in January proving ineffective. A bug of some sort is responsible for the so-called ghost calls, but no solid solutions appear present.

911 operators in Dallas are required to callback a number if there's a hangup, and that in combination with this bug is responsible for a backlog that, at times, has resulted in hundreds of calls being put on hold for more than half an hour. The issue, it seems, involves T-Mobile phones repeatedly dialing 911 while the subscriber, who first called 911, sits on hold.

These repeated calls all appear as hangups for the 911 dispatchers, who then have to call the number to determine whether the call was legit and emergency assistance is needed. While these repeated calls build up, others who are in need of emergency services are forced to sit on hold. Though the issue has been happening for a handful of months, no fix has been provided.

That, tragically, has resulted in two reports of individuals who were unable to get through to emergency services when needed; while on hold, two individuals died, one a 6-month-old baby and another a 52-year-old man. Whether those deaths could have been prevented if emergency services were immediately available is unclear. T-Mobile is working on a solution to the problem. In the meantime, the Dallas call center is bringing in more personnel to answer emergency calls.

SOURCE: Washington Post