ON YOUR SIDE ALERT: Viewer calls 911, gets recording

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman wants answers after she calls 911 - and doesn't get the response she expects.

Dana expected to hear a caring voice saying, "911, may I help you?" Instead, a recording indicated the system was inundated with calls.

Richmond Dispatch says it happens sometimes, but policy states something else should have happened too. They're investigating.

I talked with Dana on her front step around 3:10 in the afternoon. That's the time of day she called 911 on August 24, when she heard two men fighting.

"The two young men were arguing. Then they threw fists. You could hear the hitting of flesh," said Dana.

Dana is legally blind, so she went back inside her home to get her monocular to get a better look.

"I saw punches. I could tell you who punched who," said Dana.

Dana says she heard the commotion about 40 or 50 feet from her front porch. The two guys were fighting and she says it sounded like it was about to escalate into something more.

"'Get my gun. I'm going to cap you.' That kind of thing. (So, that scared you?) Yeah. I could be an innocent bystander shot by one of those bullets that somebody might throw," said Dana.

Dana went inside again and came out, this time with her phone, and called 911.

"First time, it rang three times. That surprised me. Then the automated voice said due to a high volume of calls. I got so frustrated after that, I hung up. I couldn't believe that there's an answering machine of any sort on a 911 call."

This is what you get during peak times - a recording urging you to stay on the line: "We are experiencing an unusually high volume of emergency calls...the first available communications officer will receive your emergency call right away."

Dana hung up, but Richmond Dispatch acknowledges it's 911 policy for communications officers to call back the caller regardless.

"I expected some police to show up. Or somebody to call back to see what I wanted. Never to this date nobody has called me."

Richmond Communications is investigating and says a call back was made but it's just not sure Dana got it.

"Ms. Harris, we're sorry for any confusion. We're looking into the matter," said Lt. Thomas Nolan with Richmond 911 Communications. "We take each call seriously. We take a lot of pride. We meet industry standards here. 91 percent of our calls are answered in 10 seconds or less."

Dana says the men eventually walked away and never got guns. She still maintains 911 did not call her back and says she has an answering machine and no messages were ever left there.

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