911 Caller Put On Hold While Chasing Burglar

6:59 AM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The DC Office Of Unified Communications confirms that its inquiry found that a woman who called 911 from her cell while following a burglar was placed on hold for more than a minute.

Kathleen Burke told a number of people that on Saturday afternoon a man entered her home in Upper Northwest D.C. through an unlocked back door.

She says the man threw her to the floor before making a getaway out the front door and down Broad Branch street with Burke following close behind on her cell phone.

Wanda Gattison, spokesperson for the DC 911 office says Mrs. Burke's call was put in queue or on hold for a minute and eight seconds because the nine call takers and dispatchers who were available were busy with other emergency calls which spiked  during Mrs Burke's call .

The other emergencies included a call for gun shots, theft, assault, a burglary alarm going off and several medical calls.

Gattison says with 70 percent of the 911 calls coming from cell phones people are making more calls to report the same incidents.

Still, she says the agency on average responds to 95 percent of the calls in five seconds.

The national average she says is 90 percent of the calls answered in 10 seconds.

DC Councilman Tommy Wells who heads the Judiciary Committee says putting a 911 call on hold is unacceptable.

The Union representing call takers say it will get worse in June when the agency goes to 12 hour shifts for call takers and dispatchers.

Union leader Lee Blacmon predicts fatigue and more mistakes.

The Office of Unified Communications says the 12 hour shifts will put more call takers and dispatchers on the line during spikes in 911 calls.  




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