Father’s nightmare: 911 caller put on hold while baby had seizure

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It's expected when you call 911 for an emergency that you get an answer— but one father on Long Island experienced a nightmare when calling for help.

It was two days after Thanksgiving when Bill Easteadt noticed his 18-month old son was having a seizure. He screamed for his wife to call 911 for help.

"I told Diana to call 911, and she came running in hysterical that there was no answer," Easteadt  recalled. "She got a recording that said please hold on for the next available operator."

Easteadt ran to a neighbor for help, who ended up calling the local fire department who arrived and took his son to the hospital.

"Regardless of how busy, regardless of what's going on, I want to get a voice on the other end of the phone," Easteadt said.

The Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter says this family should not have hung up the phone.

"When that happens, he goes back to the end of the line," Krumpter said. "That recording comes on when there is not an available operator.

Krumpter said this is a rare incident.

In 2015, Krumpter said 96 percent of all calls placed to 911 were answered in 10 seconds or less. The National standard requires departments to answer 90 percent of calls in 10 seconds or less.

However, that still leaves 4 percent of calls -- or 30,000 calls -- not answered in that time frame.

The Civil Service Employees Association, which represents 911 call takers, say incidents of people being placed on hold is on the rise because of budget cuts.

"It's an inherent problem because the Acting Commissioner cut the staffing in our center," said Jerry Laricchiuta, President of the CSEA.

The union provided snapshots of moments when up to seven callers were on hold for upwards of two minutes.

The commissioners said that could have been a day when there was a major accident on a highway and number of people called it in.

However, on this specific day in question when Easteadt was placed on call, one 911 operators tells PIX11 there were just three operators on the phones and there was no major occurrence.

"We looked at the roll call, ten people were assigned to 911," Krumpter said.

The union says that while ten people may be on the schedule, not all ten people are assigned to answering phones.

While the bitter battle brews on between the union and commissioner, the father caught in the middle just wants some kind of action so this doesn't happen to someone else.

"I never want to see another parent go through what we went through that day," Easteadt  said. "It was the scariest day of my life."

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