INVESTIGATES: Dispatch delayed in answering 911 call

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Imagine an emergency call to help, but no one picks up on the other end. That was one family’s reality Thursday morning after a medical concern turned into a struggle to get through to dispatch.

Brittany Franswick said her brother’s pregnant girlfriend felt chest pains, had a headache and was dizzy.

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Franswick said those were all signs that she needed help. The pregnant woman is due any day with a baby boy.

“(I felt) shear panic, honestly. This is my first nephew ever born. So I was really freaking out,” she told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant. “Always better safe than sorry, especially with a baby.”

When Franswick called 911 the first time, she said that, when a dispatcher answered, there was what seemed like a bad connection. She called back two more times, waited nearly 40 seconds for an answer and eventually hung up.

Franswick had her mom, Julie, call from work in a different zip code. Julie also could not get through and hung up after a minute of waiting.

“I was in shock. You always assume 911 is going to be there,” Julie said.

An Action News Jax reporter faced a similar issue in February 2021 after she tried to call 911 because a man was acting erratically and approached her car in downtown Jacksonville. It took 49 seconds for dispatch to answer her call for help.

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The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that, in January 2021, the average ring time for 911 calls was 10.18 seconds.

According to state regulations, 90% of calls need to be answered within 10 seconds.

Action News Jax requested an updated average ring time for the month of April in 2022. We are waiting on that request.

Franswick filed a complaint about the incident, which the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confirmed it is looking into.

JSO said that if you are trying to get through to dispatch, don’t hang up. Once a caller hangs up and dials back, you lose your spot in line and could risk a longer wait time.

Once dispatch sees a call from a number that hangs up, they will call back.

Franswick said Jacksonville Fire and Rescue did arrive at their home on the west side after about five minutes, and the pregnant woman is all right.

“That could be somebody’s life. Luckily ours was not a life or death situation. But it could’ve been.”

Action News Jax will update this article when JSO responds to our request.