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News : Montgomery's 911 Call Center Experiences Slow Response Times
Montgomery, AL, USA, May 8, 2015 -- One mother is hoping her terrifying story about Montgomery's 911 call center can help save lives.
It's been an ongoing problem for sometime now, long wait times or simply no answer when people call 9-1-1 for help.
When you call 911, chances are you are in you are in an emergency situation. Every second counts. So when someone doesn't pick up on the other end, it can be a matter of life and death.
A mother, too emotional to speak to Alabama News Network on camera told us her story through email and by phone. She says recently her young daughter slipped, hit hear head, and became unconscious. So she called 911...but instead of speaking with a live person, she got a recording.
She hung up and called 911 three more times. Each time, no answer. The woman ended up driving her daughter to the hospital herself and says 911 never called her back.
Now the city is issuing that mother and anyone else affected an explanation and an apology.
"We're dreadfully sorry," Murphy said. "I've been in touch with the family and we've apologized."
Montgomery Public Safety Director Chris Murphy says the incident is unacceptable. He says several factors, like technology, human error and lack of staff can contribute to a delay in response.
"We had a funding source change, statewide ECD, Emergency Communications Districts and so now we're in a position where we can work toward full staffing."
Larry Fisher is the Director of the Emergency Communications Center and says the national standard to answer a 911 call is between 15 and 40 seconds. But he admits some who call 911 in Montgomery WILL receive a recording.
"It's a message that tells you to stay on the line," he explained. "Do not hang up."
He says call takers must first call back those who hung up before answering any NEW calls.
"That's a priority one call automatically because of the hang up. So our goal is to call all of them back."
And although the finances are available to hire more call takers, Murphy says keeping the positions filled is a challenge.
"It's very stressful but their job is stressful."
Montgomery has an academy to train dispatchers and call takers. Eight call takers are scheduled to graduate in July. Another class will start in August. The classes will continue until the center is fully staffed, at 56 call takers. Right now it only has a staff of 32.
Director Murphy says what happened to this mother, where nobody called her back after she hung up four times, is a rare scenario. The Emergency Communications Center is in the process of switching over to a new telephone system that Officials hope will help alleviate the problem.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, May 11, 2015