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'911 And 919 Calls Unanswered'

MEMBERS of the public claim they repeatedly called emergency services Friday, but no one answered the phone.

Two unrelated persons said they tried dialling both 911 and 919, but the lines just rang and rang for several minutes.

Despite calling each number more than five times, neither ever got through to an emergency service official.

"Thank goodness it turned out to be a false alarm," said a woman who called about reports of a break-in yesterday afternoon. Someone called to say a man dressed in black was breaking into my sister's house. They saw the man throw something over the fence and then enter the property.

"In the end, it turned out to be a workman doing a job on the property, who was playing catch with the dog, but what if it had been a real emergency?

"I called and called and nothing happened. I almost had a heart attack until my sister called to explain what was going on."

The woman said she understands that all the operators may have been busy with other calls, but there should at least be an answering machine system in place to ensure no emergencies go unaddressed.

The other person, who called emergency services at 2am, said he can't be sure if anyone ended up hurt as a result of the unanswered calls.

"It was late and I was driving home. It was a cold night, so I thought it very strange to see a young man walking with his shirt off in an empty lot near Montagu.

"He looked like a tourist and appeared to be stumbling about, kind of disoriented. After I passed him, I said to myself, 'Maybe I should just let the police know he's there'. If he was a tourist, he could have been very drunk, or a robbery victim who literally had the shirt stolen from his back - or both.

"Lord knows, the last thing we need in these difficult economic times is a tourist going missing, so I thought asking a squad car to check on him wouldn't be such a bad idea," he said.

The man said he called both emergency numbers repeatedly, but also got no answer.

When told of the woman's experience, he said: "It could just be a coincidence, but I really hope the emergency lines haven't unmanned from 2am to 3pm on the same day. That's more than 12 hours.

"Don't they realise how many people could be seriously affected or even die because of this?"

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