An Austin, Texas man died after suffering a heart attack while his wife desperately waited on hold with 911 for 15 minutes.

Tanya Gotcher found her husband of nearly 30 years, Cassy, on the floor of the home they shared and immediately dialed 911 — suspecting he was having a heart attack.

Gotcher was put on hold for 15 to 20 minutes, she told CBS Austin. Her husband died while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, according to the station.

“The phone just ringing, and ringing, and ringing,” Gotcher said.

Her heartbreaking story was recently featured in a campaign ad for Travis County judge candidate Rupal Chaudhari. Cassy Gotcher had died in May.

“When you hear the phone ring for 15 minutes and you can’t get to anybody to help you is the worst nightmare that you could have,” Gotcher said.

Cassy and Tanya Gotcher
Cassy Gotcher died of a heart attack as his wife waited on hold with 911.
Tanya Keute Gotcher/Facebook

Austin has been suffering a staffing shortage at its 911 dispatch center, causing backlogs and delays in answering callers to the emergency line.

Nearly half of the city call center’s 911 operator positions are vacant and 19 out of 75 dispatcher positions are unfilled, Austin City Councilor Mackenzie Kelly told Fox News.

Austin residents who called 911 in October waited about two-and-a-half minutes for their call to be picked up, according to the outlet.

The city’s 911 call response time lags far behind the national average. About 64% of 911 calls in Austin were answered within 15 seconds, while the national standard is 90% calls being answered in the same amount of time or less, Fox News reported.

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the department has been hiring more people to fill the roles and is taking steps to address burnout and raise pay, including with stipends and bonuses.

The city of Austin also announced it would boost salaries for 911 call takers and dispatchers.

“The City of Austin is planning to make salary adjustments leading to more pay for some existing 911 Call Takers and Police Dispatcher staff to address pay compression that resulted from the recent Living Wage increase,” the city said in a statement.

“These efforts, combined with stipends and the development of a Citywide recruitment campaign, support the retention of existing employees and aim to assist in filling staff vacancies at Austin Police Department’s emergency call center.”



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