DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Seconds matter in an emergency and that’s why CBS 17 continues to follow staffing shortages at the Durham 911 call center.
The City of Durham asked Raleigh to assist in answering some of its calls back on December 7. Yet three months later, Raleigh is still taking them.
The city of Durham said COVID-19 led to the staffing shortage.
“It’s lasted longer than I expected initially,” Dominick Nutter, the Director of the Raleigh/ Wake 911 Call Center said.
He explained Durham has access to Raleigh’s system.
“We have provided Durham with a log in for so they log into the internet, into the site and they can see the calls that we put in that belong to Durham… They take the information that they see and put the information into their CAD system,” Nutter said.
Hot calls or calls that are in progress are sent over a mutual aid radio channel.
CBS 17 asked Nutter if he believed the change had led to an increase in Durham’s response time. He responded, “I wouldn’t be able to quantify that.”
“There should be a little bit of concern as to the response time especially for high priority calls,” said Randy Gluck, a law enforcement computer software expert.
He’s worked with several 911 call centers.
“You would expect that they could start taking that information and while they’re talking to you dispatch a police car immediately,” Gluck said.
Durham said in February their center received 19,257 calls, 1,710 were routed to Raleigh. That said, it was less than 9%.
Nutter said every day is different but that it’s gone as high as 34%.
According to the City of Durham’s website, the center has 64 operational positions. Director Randy Beeman said they have 38 employees, only 31 of them are trained to answer calls. It’s about the same as when CBS 17 checked back in January.
“What it’s meant is that my team has had to work harder to assist but overall, that’s the nature of the people in this profession,” Nutter said.
In response to CBS 17’s request, Beeman wrote, “city management is very aware of the workload, hours, and impact on our staff. Hiring and recruitment efforts will continue until our vacancies are filled and remain one of our highest priorities.”
Nutter said the city of Raleigh isn’t being paid to answer these additional calls. The two cities are in talks.