Pasco resident says calls 911 went unanswered

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 23:49:02-04
A Pasco County woman is calling for changes to the counties 911 system after she says her calls for help went unanswered. 
Nicole Elliott says she made three attempts to report a wrong way driver before a 911 operator finally answered. 
“If this was a life or death call, I would have just died,” she said. 
It was the middle of the day Tuesday and Nicole Elliot said she couldn't  believe her eyes.  She saw a semi truck barely miss another driver going the wrong way on the on ramp to I-75 from SR-54 in Wesley Chapel. 
“I didn’t know if he had come off 75 or how long had he been driving the wrong way. It just floored me. I don’t understand how this happens so often here,” she said.
Elliot said she made immediate calls 911. 
She said the phone rang about 50 times and then said the call ended.
Elliot says she tries calling two more times and finally got through. 
By that time, she was following the driver to give the operator his tag, make and car model.  
She said she was told there’s nothing they can do.
“I asked the operator, what if this guy is intoxicated or what if there is something wrong and he just said, "Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it,'” she said. 
In disbelief with what the operator told her, Elliott took to Facebook and posted on several community pages. 
Within 24 hours, she received more than 70 replies from other Pasco residents saying they’ve experience the same thing. 
One woman posted it took her two tries to get an operator last month when her husband was having heart troubles. 
“If you only have one chance to call, that call needs to be answered,” Elliot said. 
All this comes in the wake of the death of a Hillsborough County deputy, John Kotfila, Jr.  He was killed last weekend by wrong way driver.
Last month, Action News reported another incident in Pasco County where a man claimed he made three calls to 911 to report a suspected drunk driver and deputies never responded. 
The acting director of Pasco County Public Safety Communication, Jody Kenyon said they only received one call from Elliot’s number. She says the other calls may have been dropped by the wireless carries as they were not received in their system. 
Records show Elliot’s call rang for more than one minute before an operator answered. 
Kenyon said, “As with most 911 centers, we constantly battle staffing shortages.  Staff is working diligently to fill vacancies and we utilize overtime to add additional staffing during peak call hours.”
She said they have received complaints in the past of other people not being able to get through to an operator and says those complaints are addressed when reported.
“That needs to be fixed. The person whose holding the finances for that needs to readjust their priorities because 911 is something we shouldn’t ever have to sacrifice,” Elliot said.