On May 7, 2022, Texas man Casey Gotcher died of cardiac arrest in Austin. In a recent interview with Keye-TV, Casey's wife, Tanya Gotcher, claimed that her husband's death could have been prevented if 911 dispatchers had not kept her on hold for 15 minutes.
Tanya Gotcher claimed that Casey Gotcher might have survived if an ambulance had been sent in time.
She told reporters:
“The phone (was) just ringing, and ringing, and ringing."
“When you hear the phone ring for 15 minutes and you can’t get to anybody to help you is the worst nightmare that you could have."
According to the New York Post, the 911 response time in Austin, Texas, is slower than national response times. Fox reported that while 64% of 911 calls in Austin are answered in 15 seconds, the percentage stands at 90% in other states.
Authorities in Austin, Texas are taking measures to minimise delays
Yahoo reported that the death of Casey Gotcher came to the attention of Texas authorities because the case was featured in a campaign ad for Rupal Chaudhari, a Travis County Judge Candidate.
Tanya Gotcher claimed that the call took so long due to mistakes made by the 911 dispatchers and a misunderstanding during the call. She said that to speed up the progress, she asked her father-in-law to make a parallel 911 call.
"It took (my father-in-law) 10 minutes, and then the 911 company realized he was in a different county, so they transferred him, and it took another three minutes. Mine was a minimum of 15 if not 20 minutes."
In response to the criticism, Austin Police Chief Jason Chacon announced that his department was taking measures to improve response times in the Texas State capital. The initiative includes increasing the number of dispatchers, as well as improving payment conditions.
In an official statement, the City of Austin announced:
“The City of Austin is planning to make salary adjustments leading to more pay for some existing 911 Call Takers and Police Dispatcher staff to address pay compression that resulted from the recent Living Wage increase."
The statement continued:
“These efforts, combined with stipends and the development of a Citywide recruitment campaign, support the retention of existing employees and aim to assist in filling staff vacancies at Austin Police Department’s emergency call center.”
Fox reported that the average wait time for Austin 911 callers was two and a half minutes. CBS reported that the City of Austin told the public that the best measure citizens could take during a 911 call is not to hang up, as it will only delay wait times further.