As we continue to sort out last weekend's terrorist attacks in Paris, at least one thing is for sure: the U.S. State Department isn't doing a good job connecting with Americans in need.

A family friend, Tom Gibbons, called in to share how inadequate the American Embassy's communication setup was when he attempted to contact his son, TJ, who found himself himself caught up Friday night's turmoil.

TJ, who is studying abroad, was staying in a youth hostel with some friends, which Gibbons and his wife quickly learned was located down the road from the besieged Bataclan concert hall.

"We were horrified, because there we were talking to our son- talking and texting- and he was right down the road from the concert hall," Tom said.

According to Tom, he and his wife could hear gunfire in the background throughout the conversation with TJ, just seconds before it was broadcast on TV."The gunshots were just going off. And we have Fox News on, CNN, and we're flipping back and forth. And I guess overseas, even though it says live, they're on a time delay. I'm listening and my wife is listening, and we're just freaking out because we hear these gun shots going off, and then seconds later we hear them going off again on live news."

Tom and his wife tried to give TJ advice while not showing their own fear. Meanwhile, they tried in vain to contact the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

"The system is broken, and someone far smarter than I has to figure it out," said Gibbons. He told us that despite many calls, no American authority was reached to help direct his family.

"You're left with giving your own advice, which you don't know if it's good. It's kind of instinctive," Tom said.

You would think in a crisis situation a basic function of the State Department wouldn't be hampered like this. What is the Obama administration doing?  Let me know what you think of Tom's story in the comments section below, or tweet @nj1015 and @BillSpadea.

Bill Spadea is host of the Chasing News TV program. He periodically fills in for NJ 101.5 show hosts, and you can daily hear his opinion about all things New Jersey here, or by tweeting @BillSpadea.

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