911 Calls Gone Wrong

A woman driving through Atlanta thinks she's seen a car wanted in an Amber Alert. She calls a radio station which patches her though to 911 live on the air.

Operator: What Amber Alert? Well, I don't know anything about that yet.

The woman's call is then transferred to a supervisor.

Caller: I just passed I-20 exit and then I passed one exit after that.

Supervisor: Okay. That...

The line then goes dead, then the disc jockey says, "this is unbelievable."

It took 12 minutes to figure out the caller had the wrong car.

"That's eternity when you're talking about a situation that's as dire as this one," says Bert Weiss of Q101.

But it's not as dire as this call to Connecticut state police.

Caller: Someone crashed on their street bike.

Trooper: Where?

Caller: Incinerator Road in Taftville.

Trooper: Yeah? Too bad.

Another caller tries.

Trooper: Is this the one on Incinerator Drive?

Caller: Yeah.

Trooper: All right we'll get there. You shouldn't be playing games.

The man on the street bike later died, and the trooper was suspended.

The mistakes and long wait times are only symptoms of what's really plaguing 911 calls. Cell phones and other 21st century devices are overwhelming systems that were designed for the 1970s.

"With technology the way it is you almost need new stuff every year," says Angie Conley, Gwinnett County's 911 director.

Conley cringes over fender benders.

A simple traffic accident with no injuries, she says, can overwhelm the 911 system.

"If it's on the interstate and tying up traffic everyone is going to call in and report it," says Conley.

The latest technology isn't always the greatest. When a Houston couple was shot during a home invasion last month, their daughter called 911 using a new Internet phone service.

"He was screaming Joyce, Joyce call 911," says the girl.

The service, however, was not equipped to make the call.

The government is now scrambling to adapt 911 to new technologies. Authorities warn without the upgrade, the system is in a state of emergency.