Problems persist at Durham 911 call center; officials investigating

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — For months, CBS 17 has been reporting on staffing shortages at the Durham 911 call center.

Saturday night it hit a new low — all calls directed to that center went to Raleigh. The city confirms it’s because they had no one working who could answer those calls.

The city said the staffing shortages were caused by illness, personal circumstances and COVID-19 protocol. They declined to provide specifics.

In a video message, Durham deputy city manager Bo Ferguson said they’re “reviewing and investigating” the matter.

The staffing shortage meant all 911 calls Saturday night were answered in Raleigh, with the information then relayed back to Durham so that first responders could then be dispatched.

“The problem is not being resolved, they’re not hiring, they’re not filling those positions,” said Jimie Wright, the president of the Professional Firefighters of Durham.

CBS 17 first spoke with Wright back in January. Raleigh’s 911 call center had been taking some of Durham’s calls for about a month.

Wright was concerned it could lead to an increase in response times. Back then, Durham said a COVID-19 outbreak caused the staffing shortage. But five months later nothing has changed.

“Wake County communications is going to be taxed, trying to take Durham’s calls and theirs,” Wright said.

CBS 17 reached out to Raleigh’s 911 call center. They said they were notified Saturday afternoon Durham would need additional help. They said it is possible this could lead to delays, but they haven’t identified any at this time.

CBS 17 also reached out to Durham officials. They said they’re supposed to have 60 people who can answer calls, but they’re down 26 positions. They said four slots will be filled soon.

“It is not an approved practice of the city or the 911 leadership to route all incoming 911 calls to the Raleigh-Wake center,” Ferguson said.

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