Dozens of complaints by Durham fire and EMS regarding Durham 911 center revealed in CBS 17 public records request

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham admits its 911 center is not where it needs to be.

For nine months, CBS 17 has been investigating staffing shortages, people calling for help and no one answering. For nearly six months, the city didn’t have enough people to staff its own center.

CBS 17 submitted several public records requests. The city finally responded months later. They show the specifics of staffing shortages, complaints and what managers were saying.

CBS 17’s Amy Cutler started looking into the Durham 911 center back in December. The city said a COVID-19 outbreak led to a staffing shortage, but she quickly learned the problems were much bigger.

Raleigh’s 911 center helped by answering some of their calls for nearly six months.

In one complaint, EMS said a medical call was pending for nine minutes. Durham didn’t have it on their end, Raleigh alerted them to it.

The Durham Fire Department and EMS submitted 55 complaints from December to May. They involved delays, wrong addresses, wrong responses, and people who stopped by fire stations when they called 911 but got no answer.

Staffing was also an issue. CBS 17 found several times where just two people were working at the center. The city said that didn’t include police officers and EMS employees who helped dispatch calls.

What about people who called 911 and hung up after no one picked up? They’re referred to as abandoned calls. The city couldn’t provide numbers — they said they don’t track them.

Durham started taking all its own calls on June 1.

Along with the request for the records came this explanation from the city:

“While the DECC is not where it needs to be, its management is taking urgent and appropriate steps.”

They said they’ve hired nine people, two of them are trainers. They’ve also streamlined their training from 12 to eight weeks, they’re reviewing their workplace environment and are offering bonuses.

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