When one of Mary Stephenson's co-workers was having a stroke, she called 911 right away.
"When I called from my desk phone, it rang about 10 times," she said.
She thought something might be wrong with her phone, so she hung up and tried her cell phone, but it kept ringing for nearly two minutes before she hung up.
"You think you're going to call 911 and they're going to answer right away, and when it won't stop ringing and there's nobody there, you worry something bad is going to happen," Stephenson said.
Her daughter was eventually able to get through and paramedics arrived within minutes.
Stephenson said it probably only took about three minutes to get an answer from dispatch, but in a situation like that, every second counts.
"After the third ring it started to feel like forever, it was scary that it took that long," she said.
Colorado Springs police tell us part of the problem is there were several other calls for service dispatchers were responding to at the same time. More than 15 other calls were coming in while Stephenson was trying to get through.
The El Paso-Teller 911 Authority said if a caller is having a hard time getting to a dispatcher, they should not hang up the phone.
"We definitely don't recommend making a 911 call and if you can't get through on your cell phone, to switch to another device like a land line," said Ben Bills with the 911 Authority. "Only for the fact that now we have potentially two abandoned calls, now we're going to try two different numbers and it's the same incident."
When a caller hangs up and creates those "abandoned calls," dispatchers in El Paso County are required to call back to make sure everything is alright. If callers are using several numbers for the same incident it may take dispatchers longer to respond to other emergencies.
Stephenson's friend is now recovering in the hospital.
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