AT&T 911 outage delays response for South Florida woman suffering medical emergency

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida woman calling 911 with a medical emergency was unable to get through to seek help during an AT&T outage, Wednesday evening.

AT&T customer Cristina Kessler dialed 911, but said she couldn’t get through after her mother began to experience strange symptoms. “All of a sudden, she turned white,” she said. “She was delirious. Her eyes were closing and they were rolling.”

But Kessler wasn’t able to speak with 911. “I kept calling and calling and no answer, no answer,” said Kessler. “I was going crazy.”

Kessler said she continued to call from her Southwest Miami-Dade home. She said she dialed 911 over and over for nearly 30 minutes, and showed 7News her cellphone with the outgoing call list filled with the calls.

The problem stemmed from her AT&T 911 wireless service, which was down in multiple states.

“What’s going through my head? She’s gonna die,” Kessler said. “Her eyes were glazed and foam was coming from her mouth.”

Kessler then thought that the next best thing she could do was to call the police directly. Once the caller was able to get through to someone, she said the ambulance arrived at her house within six minutes and transported her mother to Kendall Regional Medical Center.

The caller said that valuable time was wasted, which could have cost her mother her life. “The doctor said, ‘What were you thinking? What took you so long?’ And I said, ‘Well, call 911,'” said Kessler.

The company has since released a statement that reads in part, “We are aware of a service issue affecting some calls to 911 for wireless customers, and we’re working to resolve it as quickly as possible. We apologize for this inconvenience.”

Now the Federal Communications Commission is investigating this case. “People call 911 when you’re in distress,” Kessler said. “This was a distressful situation. Yes, I thought I would lose her for sure.”

Kessler’s mother was released from the hospital on Thursday and is recovering at home.

“Minutes matter, not just for someone her age, but minutes matter for you, for me, for children,” Kessler said. “The only set form of communication is to call 911; that’s all we have.”

7News contacted officials with AT&T, but said they have no further comment.

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