Stoddard Co. 911 dispatcher explains dealing with 'ghost calls'

STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A six-month-old boy died in Dallas, Texas after his babysitter couldn't get through to 911.

The city of Dallas reported it had a surge of ghost calls from T-Mobile numbers that tied up emergency lines for hours at a time.

This unfortunate situation leads to the question: could this happen here locally and is there a plan in place to avoid it?

Stoddard County 911 dispatchers say sometimes they do receive ghost calls, but luckily their phone line isn't normally backed up.

At the Stoddard County Ambulance District, 911 dispatcher, Sharon Howard, said she doesn't often deal with backed up calls.

"The only time we normally have an issue with people calling through is when we have a car accident," she said. "Multiple people are driving by and we have multiple people calling in."

But Howard said they do deal with people accidentally calling 911 and quickly hanging up

Though you may think you've hung up in time, Howard said the call still comes through and dispatchers take it seriously.

The dispatcher said the best thing you can do is stay on the phone.

"Let us answer so that we can make sure right off the bat there is no emergency," she said. "That way we don't have to worry about calling back."

That's because Howard said they are required to return any missed phone calls with a call back number.

"If you hang up and then call back to tell us that it was an accidental dial then we would have to put an emergency call on hold twice.

However, if Stoddard County Dispatch ever gets backed up, their calls are forwarded to Sikeston DPS.

"We take every call seriously as well," she said. "We want to make sure regardless of if we talked to you that you are receiving the help that you need."

Howard also said she feels for the family and the dispatcher in Dallas.

She said she hopes this T-mobile problem gets fixed and this story brings to light just how serious it is to call 911.

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