911 caller put on hold for several minutes during emergency in Cypress

CYPRESS – A family in Cypress says when they called 911 to report an emergency situation, they were put on hold for several minutes.

The Hall family told Channel 2 News that they were greeted by an automated answering machine asking them to hold and they waited for five minutes before a 911 dispatcher answered.

"I needed to call 911. I needed help, and I got put on hold," said Laura Hall. "We're trying to save someone's life who was in an emergency situation."

Hall said one of their yard workers suddenly stopped breathing on the job.

"It was Wednesday at 4 o'clock, we had just taken the kids outside, we were sitting in the driveway. We had workers doing post-Harvey cleanup in the yard and one of them came up and said 'Do you mind calling 911?'" she said. "When we found him, he had no heartbeat, he was not breathing"

According to Laura, her husband, who is a former marine, jumped into action after calling 911 and handing the phone to his wife.

"He was doing chest compressions and rescue breathing," she said.

Paramedics finally arrived and Harris County said they took the worker to the hospital by Life Flight 29 minutes after Laura's 911 call was answered.

Harris County has told Channel 2 News that wait times have increased since the dispatch center relocated after Harvey.

In regards to the automated 911 call answering machine, Harris County says:

"It is standard practice for 911 calls to be picked up by an automated system if the call goes unanswered after a few rings. That way, the caller knows they've gotten into the system. We feel this is better than having the phone continue ringing indefinitely."

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