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Raleigh 911 Center to Get Help: More Operators

Posted June 11, 2007

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— Cities often measure growth by their population or their tax base. Raleigh has another yardstick — demand on its 911 call center.

Emergency communication centers in the state's largest cities take an average of 600,000 calls per year. Last year, Raleigh answered more than 780,000.

In addition, call volume isn't the only issue. Who's making the calls and how they're made adds to the load on the city's resources, and city officials say they need more help on the receiving end of 911.

For 8½ years, Candice Foster has been on the receiving end of Raleigh 911 calls.

“During the day, it's nonstop all day long,” said Candice Foster, who has been a 911 operator for 8 ½ years.

Raleigh 911 operators fielded about 1,000 more calls a week in 2006 than the year before, or 850,000 calls all together. City Manager Russell Allen said that requires 10 more telecommunicator positions, and the City Council included them in the budget it adopted Monday. Right now, the city has about 60 operators.

“The growth is just driving us to have to put more staff in,” Allen said.

He said the 10 new positions will cost about $450,000 each year.

“Our staff takes about 50 percent more 911 calls than the statewide average. so certainly there's a workload impact,” said 911 Director Barry Furey.

Part of the need for more operators is attributable to a large number of calls from non-English speakers and the fact that more than 50 percent of calls come from cell phones.

The cell calls “take longer to process because we have to ask additional questions to find a good dispatchable location,” Furey said.

During that time, Furey added, “One of our people is not available to answer the next emergency call that's coming down the line.”

The center’s goal is to answer 90 percent of calls in 10 seconds or less.

“That's a standard that we've always exceeded significantly,” Allen said, “and we've started to see some slippage from that.”

17 Comments

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  • imnotsayinimjustsayin Jun 12, 2007

    911TC I totally agree. As a TC myself, I know all too well of the abuse of the 911/Emergency system by the public. As you well know the amount of incoming calls into a center are BS. I find that the Spanish speaking population make up for only a few of my "headaches." The greater amount of distress on Communicators come from those who call 911 for sewer back ups or every time their neighbors dog barks. HELLLOOO people, dogs are animals we can't control them either. Also, aren't they supposed to bark?? If people could only function for themselves instead of running to 911, or the 7 digit emergency phone number for your local agency, for phone numbers and addresses of yard sales it would make our jobs easier. And yes it is annoying when we are told I know mayor so and so or chief so and so...guess what people...We know them TOO!! We work with them!! 911TC you're right about the salary part too...don't you just want to give them their quarter back?? LOL

  • the alliance Jun 12, 2007

    I'm qualified. 16 years in a call center environment. 919-412-1269 - Henry

  • baileysmom3 Jun 12, 2007

    how do you become a 911 dispatcher? it sounds like a really good job to have.

  • lollly52 Jun 12, 2007

    Lady Blue - I hear you loud and clear. 911 ops do important work and if we need to hire new ops, then we should. They should not hire anyone who does no speak English fluently.

    About 15 years ago, my oldest kid broke her arm and the bone was sticking thru the skin. I was trying to check her into Rex. The next “patient intake” person in the queue spoke great Spanish but very poor, very broken English. She asked my name. I said Lollly Doe. She said spell that. I said L-o-l-l-l-y D-O-E. She goes L?? Elll? I started shouting – give me someone who speaks English and give me that person NOW!
    A supervisor came over and told me to be patient, that I was required to work with the next available intake person. I pointed to the bone sticking thru my kids arm and said – do you really think I give a snap about your little rule? My kid got in pronto.

    The point is – that situation should never happen on a 911 call. English First!

  • whats it to ya Jun 12, 2007

    Wake County has the high Death rate..or has another county beat Wake?bDont think so

  • whats it to ya Jun 12, 2007

    Dealing with some of the publics stupidness..They go through alot..Had a family member that served with Comunications at 911 over 20 Plus yrs and have delt with Police..Communicaters go through it as well..They try to save lives too..My Mother has showed her yrs in protecting and sending help to yall in Durham ..But the Battle starts at home

  • STeeleHawk Jun 11, 2007

    Hmm, just talked to my friend. Bi-lingual is not a requirement for employement at the 9-1-1 center. As a matter of fact, (as I was told) there have only been a few bi-lingual employees there in the last few years. And they got the job not because of their linguistic abilities, but there other capablities.

  • JKL876 Jun 11, 2007

    Of course a qualified applicant who can also speak Spanish would be a tremendous asset to a Center, however, I have yet to see a TC job posting (and I've seen many) that requires an applicant to be bilingual in order to be considered. I can assure you there are many other skills which are far more important than the ability to speak Spanish, especially considering the easy availability of the Language Line service, and those skills would weigh more heavily than languages spoken. I can also assure you that no caller will ever be told to call back when they learn to speak correctly, any more than a caller would be told to call back when they can request assistance without informing me that they pay my salary, speaking rudely of my mother, or reading me a list of their close personal friends, all of whom are, of course, high ranking city/county/state officials. I commend Raleigh's Council for recognizing the burdon placed on current TC's and providing resources to expand the staff.

  • childfreeinrdu Jun 11, 2007

    Sounds like they are missing an excellent opportunity to teach illegals that they need to learn the English. "You need help? Ask in English. Por favor. What's that? I'm sorry, I can't understand you. Is there someone there that speaks the English? No? Call back when you can speak English. Goodbye."

  • ladyblue Jun 11, 2007

    Steelhawke comment addressed appreciate the feed back. My sister in law canme into this country as a german citizen. She had to LEARN ENGLISH before she became a citizen of this country. The previous post was correct. They will hire people with duel languages which is kinda discriminatory towards americans who don't speak other languages. I've never met a legal resident of any culture that did not speak english. May not be the best, but they tried. Anyway, again I say bless the 911 workers. I'm glad they'll get some help.

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