Tulsa officials say faulty equipment caused emergency calls to go unanswered

Friday, September 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Officials have removed faulty equipment that caused at least a half-dozen emergency calls to go unanswered at Tulsa's 911 center early Saturday morning.

City officials discovered the primary telephone station in the call center somehow logged itself off the 911 system twice for a total of almost 15 minutes between 3 and 4 a.m. Saturday, said Dale Frizzell, division manager of Tulsa's Public Safety Communications.

Instead of talking to a 911 dispatcher, those who called during the two separate equipment failures heard only incessant ringing.

Records show that 911 calls from six to seven different phone numbers were missed during the failures, but the system does not track calls from cellular phones. That means the number of calls could have been much higher.

City officials discovered the problem after Tulsa resident Karen Dills complained about not getting a response when she called to report a stranger trying to get into her house.

Dills called 911 from her home phone and then from her cellular phone at around 3:30 a.m. as a stranger tried to beat down the front door of her house while she was home alone.

"There was a strange, sort of crazed-looking man standing at the door, demanding to be let in," Dills said.

"I hate to think about what might have happened if he'd known I couldn't call police."

After getting no answer at the 911 center, Dills locked herself in her bedroom and called a friend. Her friend also could not reach the 911 center, but sent her husband to Dills' house.

A telephone operator eventually patched Dills through to a nonemergency police number.

Police arrived at the home nearly 20 minutes after Dill first tried to call. Her friend's husband was there, but the stranger had fled.