Some 911 Storm Calls Went Unanswered: Report

More than 1,000 911 calls went unanswered in the height of Chicago's storms

By Dominic Trombino
|  Friday, Aug 5, 2011  |  Updated 11:31 AM CDT
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More than 1,000 calls to 911 went unanswered at the Northwest Central Dispatch System during a record suburban storm, according to reports.

The lost calls were placed between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. July 23, the executive director of the dispatch system told The Daily Herald.

The dispatch center in Arlington Heights, which serves 11 northwest suburbs, handled 2,592 calls that night between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., more than 10 times the same shift received one week prior, according to Cindy Barbera-Brelle.

The dispatch center, normally staffed by 13 dispatchers, had 18-20 workers between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Barbera-Brelle stressed how difficult it is to anticipate such a high volume of calls, explaining that this number didn't even come in on the Fourth of July or during the blizzard in February.

After a few unanswered rings to the Northwest Central Dispatch center, the call is routed to the Cook County dispatch center in Des Plains. If the call goes unanswered again, it goes back to Northwest Central.

Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder stressed that no one is to blame for the problem and that it is something that no one could have expected, because it has never happened before.

She said that she would like to see the dispatch's board and leadership review the events and come up with improvements on the system.

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