Hundreds of Durham 911 calls not answered within 60 seconds after city quits forwarding calls to Raleigh

Durham County News

DURHAM N.C. (WNCN) — On Thursday, Durham city leaders released updated numbers that showed 88 percent of 911 calls that come through Durham’s 911 call center are answered within 20 seconds, but that three percent of 911 calls are not answered within 60 seconds.

This comes after the city of Durham quit forwarding some of their 911 calls to Raleigh Wake 911, after they said they had enough trained staff to handle the call volume on their own.

The Durham 911 call center currently has 26 vacancies.

In an effort to make sure all calls were answered, six months ago calls not answered within 30 -60 seconds in Durham were automatically forwarded to Raleigh.

Since the city quit forwarding 911 calls to Raleigh, three percent of calls that have come through between June 1 – June 10 have not been answered within 60 seconds, according to city officials.

Durham city leaders have told CBS 17 before that 800 to 1,000 calls come through the Durham 911 Call Center a day.

If you do the math, that’s a minimum of 8,000 calls that have come through in the last 10 days. This means 240 – 300 of the calls that have come through in the last 10 days, were not answered within 60 seconds or less.

“We are constantly looking at our numbers to make sure we have the staffing, and we’re eyeballing times to make sure wait times are as low as possible,” said Bo Ferguson, Deputy City Manager for the city of Durham. “But I want to say, circumstances exist and happen where calls have to wait because of the number of calls that come into the 911 center.”

On Thursday morning, city councilors asked Ferguson if more funding is needed to give 911 operators in Durham a raise and if that would address the staffing shortage.

Ferguson said they have no problem getting people to apply, but he said they don’t have enough staff to train people and get them on the floor quickly.

Currently, they have only had enough staff to train 4 people per academy, while Raleigh Wake 911 trains 12-15 people per academy.

“We have identified that our training regimen doesn’t send enough people through at one time,” Ferguson told city councilors. “What we need to do is make sure that when we have applications, we can take more of those applications in a fiscal year and move them through the training process and get them on the floor.”

Ferguson said they are looking to expand their ability to train staff as they are currently working to recruit four 911 training operators.

Those positions are posted on the city’s website.

Ferguson said they have also been able to add a fifth training academy that will happen later this year.

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