Dallas PD reassures city council 911 problem is handled

The former Dallas interim police chief is reassuring city leaders it's working hard to get first responders to 911 calls quickly. It comes six months after two people died after their families say they didn't get help fast enough.

Assistant DPD Chief David Pughes told the Dallas City Council that he is confident what happened in March will not happen again.

Bridget Alex's 6-month-old son Brandon died after her babysitter called 911 for help but couldn't get through to a call taker. Tears streaked her face when she spoke with FOX 4 in March.

"Physically I can't cope. I'm just here. I'm lost,” she said. “And all I think about is if they would have came, if they would have answered the phone."

David Taffet says his husband also died after he also could not get through to a 911 call taker. While performing CPR, Taffet told FOX 4 in March that he was on hold for 20 minutes.

“You can't do CPR for 20 minutes and expect the person to survive,” he said.

But Pughes says the department is now on top of the 911 operations.

“We were hanging on by a thread, trying to manage the operations,” he said.

The department has staffed up the call center, improved morale, and is answering 911 calls in two seconds on average.

"I feel assured, given our current staffing and communications equipment, that we will not experience those problems again,” Pughes said.

The city initially blamed T-Mobile for the problems.

“As far as the technical aspects when we had all the calls spikes and T-Mobile specifically, I don't know how much of that attributed to the long wait times,” Pughes said. “I think it was a compounding situation where we call high periods of spiked calls coming into the call center. With limited staffing that was in there that really wasn't adequate, I don't think you can blame any one thing.”

Attorneys for the victims of the 911 call center crisis said they could not talk on Wednesday.

Upgrades to the 911 call center building include air purifiers, new lightning, and a room where call takers can decompress after stressful situations.

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