LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Deputies in Parmer County, in the panhandle, have been frantically trying to find the toddler who called 911 for help saying her mom was lying on the floor. But now, after 24 hours later, they believe there is no emergency, after all. Authorities say there is a lot to be learned from this incident.
Randy Geries is the sheriff of Parmer County. He said their dispatch office received a call from a 2–4 year old girl. The girl said that she heard a noise and found her mom lying on the floor, and then the line disconnected.
Geries said the sheriff’s office called schools, pre-k’s, and even churches to try and locate the girl, but had no success. They now believe that the girl may have been playing with an non-working cell phone and accidentally called 911 for help.
The Lubbock County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) said they answer around 250 calls per day. They have 17 dispatch operators on staff.
Windy Kraus is the Communications Supervisor for Lubbock County Sheriff Office. "Over 80 percent of our calls come in as cell phone calls." but those who use cellphones may be at a disadvantage when calling 911 for help. Kraus says landlines are best. “Because it gives us a direct location and a direct spot.”
When calling for help, the cell signal uses the nearest tower, but that could be miles from where the caller is. Before you hand off your old cell phone to a child to play with, deputies want you to know that even if you cell phone does not have service, that phone can still call 911 as long as it has a battery in it.
LCSO explained that calls from a non-working cell phone come up with a 911 area code phone number and deputies can’t call the number back or get a location. “while you can call for help, help cannot call you back,” said Kraus.
The LCSO now has a way for people to use a cell phone to text 911 for help instead of a traditional phone call, but they also have a few problems with that as well. “The providers don’t know that it’s an emergency number. So, you just go straight into a queue and we may not receive it as an emergency,” said Kraus, “We may get it the next day. We may get it sometime later. We cant get a direct location on that as well.”