CHICAGO (CBS) — At least seven rings felt like eternity – a Chicago woman said she called 911 for help and no one answered.
And as CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reported, the woman, Denise Conroy, said it happened twice.
Kozlov went out to find out why it all happened, and got some answers.
When there’s a threat and it’s unsafe, and you need Chicago Police, you call 911 and expect an operator to answer, “Chicago emergency.”
That’s what Denise Conroy expected last Thursday, when her ex-husband came to her home. She was concerned and thought she needed police intervention.
Instead, Conroy said her 911 calls – two of them in 15 minutes – just kept ringing.
“Nobody answered the phone, six or seven times, I believe. And I waited a few minutes and I tried them again – same thing,” Conroy said.
And no one called her back.
She said the 911 calls didn’t only leave her vulnerable.
“It enraged me,” Conroy said. “It enraged me.”
Conroy still has a record of the call of her landline phone. She also posted her concern on her Facebook page that day.
A representative of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications said there was a high call volume at the time of Conroy’s calls, but they would have been answered if she had stayed on the line.
Staying on the line would also trigger a call back, which does not happen if a caller hangs up first.
The OEMC representative said the office’s goal is to answer calls within three rings, or 20 seconds at worst.
So CBS 2 timed the unanswered call, mirroring Conroy’s, to a newsroom phone. Five rings took 26 seconds to complete, while seven rings took almost 39 seconds.
“It’s unacceptable,” Conroy said.
Conroy, an advocate for domestic violence victims, said that wait could be too long for someone else.
“I’m concerned for the next woman who thinks, ‘Oh I can call, they’ll help me,’ and they don’t answer,” Conroy said.
Conroy ended up handling the matter herself. The OEMC representative urged callers to stay on the line, even if they can’t talk.
But since there is no way to verify a call if a caller hangs up first, there is no record of Conroy’s calls from last week. That means it is difficult to gauge how often such things happen.
CBS 2 is checking on that and planning to follow up.