A Texas woman is in mourning and outraged over the lack of response from 911 as her husband suffered what proved to be a fatal heart attack.
The tragic incident unfolded in May when Tanya Gotcher of Austin found her husband, Casey, on the floor of their home having an apparent heart attack. After immediately calling 911, Gotcher was put on hold for an estimated 15 to 20 minutes.
As she recounted, when you call for emergency help and “hear the phone ring for 15 minutes,” it is the “worst nightmare.”
Her story spread because of her telling it on behalf of candidate for Travis County judge Rupal Chaudhari.
The Republican is running for the seat in the heart of deep-blue Austin, a liberal bastion in an otherwise mostly conservative Texas. The city council yanked $150 million in funding from its police department in 2020.
Experts note that law enforcement agencies across the nation have dealt with staffing shortages since that year’s violent protests, and those manpower challenges are also present in other public safety organizations.
Tanya Gotcher says on May 7 her husband had a heart attack. She called 9-1-1 but says she was holding for 15 minutes. She even had her father-in-law call but her husband died that day. Still grieving the loss she's sharing her story as 9-1-1 hold times have gone up. pic.twitter.com/4Udf3gwE1H
— Ricardo Lewis (@RicardoLewisTV) October 20, 2022
Austin is grappling with a staffing shortage at its 911 headquarters that results in backlogs and delays in responding to callers. City council member Mackenzie Kelly told Fox News that almost half of the call center’s 911 operation positions are unfilled.
That is also the situation with 19 out of 75 dispatcher positions. Statistics show the city’s 911 call response time is well below the average nationally, with 64% of calls answered within 15 seconds compared to the U.S. average of 90%.
To counter this shortfall, the Democratic city announced it is raising salaries for operators and dispatchers at its 911 center. In a statement, officials announced “salary adjustments leading to more pay for some” of the emergency workers.
Meanwhile, Gotcher continues to pressure local officials to improve Austin’s emergency services in order to save more lives. The widow explained that she is not making the effort just on behalf of her late husband, Casey.
As she noted, the next time there is a 15 minute wait to get emergency services to even answer the phone, “it could be you.”