Recent unanswered calls raise concern at St. Joseph County 911

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind,--This week, St. Joseph County 911 took to Facebook to warn callers that it’s possible their calls may go unanswered after receiving feedback that callers were unable to get through.

What’s being done so people are not in trouble when threatened with an emergency?

Executive director at the St. Joseph County Public Safety Communications Center, Julie Tobey, who says there have not been any recent widespread issues in the area, but they are investigating the issue so no future calls go unanswered in any emergency.

The communications center warned people to hang up and re-dial 911 if there is an emergency and the call goes unanswered. The recent cases were able to be resolved when people called the administrative line. Dispatch is working with AT&T to assess the problem so this does not happen again. But for this to work, Tobey says they’ll need more data.

“In case they had an issue if they were to call 9-1-1 and nobody was answering, let the dispatcher know so we can have that information, so we can add to our data collection,” said Tobey. “The problem is, we need more data to actually identify the problem.”

Tobey said the only recent issues were from last Friday on two separate occasions and does not anticipate future problems.

It can be scary in an emergency situation when the people that are supposed to connect you to immediate help aren’t on the other line. St. Joseph County 911 is working on finding the cause of some unanswered calls, but in emergencies, no second can be wasted.

Tobey said this is not a common concern and the community was alerted of the issue as a precaution.

But South Bend resident, Adriene Sloma said the issue is nothing new. Her most recent unresponsive call was back in February.

“I tried to call 911 three times, and I got nothing,” said Sloma.

Sloma contacted 911 while working for a home healthcare facility in an emergency, but the phone kept ringing.

“Finally, the nurse got through after 30 minutes,” Sloma said.

And she said this has happened to her on at least four separate occasions--in even more threatening conditions.

“We’re being held at knifepoint, at gunpoint, we were being assaulted and we couldn’t even get through to get help,” Sloma said.

And at this point, Sloma is fed up with the unanswered calls, so she stopped trying.

When asked who she calls in an emergency, Sloma responded that she relies on herself.

“If I can take care of it myself, I can take care of it myself,” she said.

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