HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Depending on where you are in Central Texas, your 911 call could be sent to the wrong dispatch center.
These problems with emergency calls can happen to people who are near a county line. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened twice already to TyAnn Osborn.
One of the times was two years ago during a luncheon in Dripping Springs.
“I was on that side, and she was on this side when she fainted. Her chair tipped back and she hit her head,” Osborn said.
Osborn sprung into action after her friend lost consciousness. She dialed 911 and said her call went to the Travis County dispatch. But that’s not where it was supposed to go.
“They said, ‘Well, we think you’re in the wrong county. You’ve been routed to the wrong county,'” Osborn said.
She said it took 10 minutes for operators to decide where to transfer her call.
“It sounded like there was a lot of confusion, because I could hear the operator I was speaking to speak with other people trying to figure out the county,” Osborn said.
Why does this happen?
The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) oversees the 911 systems in Central Texas. It said wireless calls hit the nearest cell tower and that sends it to the assigned emergency service zone.
But if someone is near a county line, that call could be sent to the wrong zone.
CAPCOG said depending on call volume, a transfer generally takes seconds as soon as the dispatcher knows where to send it.
Still, Osborn wonders: will more run into this issue?
“Especially in Dripping Springs, we have parts of the city that are in Travis County. How would you know where the county line is?” Osborn said.
CAPCOG said there are active efforts to try to prevent this issue from happening. For cell phone calls, it said carriers test calls daily to make sure they are routed to the correct 911 dispatch center.