WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Hundreds of 911 calls in less than 10 minutes. It’s what KSN found out as we’re following up on Friday’s deadly shooting at the Towne East Square Mall that left 14-year-old Trenjvious Hutton dead. Some feel the 911 call center may have been overwhelmed.
Sedgwick County told KSN it received 23 total 911 calls between 5:15-5:30 p.m. Friday, March 18. Between 5:31-5:40 p.m., it had 168 total calls. One woman who was inside the mall during the shooting said she called 911 and was on hold for 10 minutes before she could talk to someone.
“When I finally got through, he just told me unless you have information, I need to hang up, and he just hung up, and we just went across the street to here,” said Wren Johnson.
Sedgwick County 911 confirmed that the scenario was possible Friday. In fact, during that 10 minutes window, it went into what it calls the “abbreviated call-taking mode.” It’s a time when they’re trying to determine new information but reassure the caller that help is on the way.
The county also said it has 30 different 911 circuits to answer the calls. It averages using about 13 during the month of March, but on Friday is used all 30. The first call came in around 5:31 p.m. In less than one minute between the first call, by 5:32 p.m., officers were heading to the scene, and by 5:33 p.m., the first officers arrived at the mall.
“It wasn’t just the calls coming in. It was also trying to manage the resources, getting them to the right doors at the mall, that the response is coordinated to the best of their ability and manage what’s happening on the ground and outside the mall,” said Commissioner Jim Howell, Sedgwick County, District 5.
Emergency Communication Director Elora Forshee told KSN it would have taken 168 dispatchers working Friday to not have any calls on hold, which she said is not possible. However, she acknowledged Friday’s shooting was an example of a flood of calls coming in during a short time frame in a very populated area.