RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — An employee at the Raleigh 911 call center is speaking out, concerned about what the additonal call volume from Durham means for those in Wake County.
On Saturday night, all 911 calls in Durham County went to Raleigh’s center. As CBS 17 has reported, Raleigh’s center has been taking some of Durham’s calls since December.
The employee who spoke out is frustrated and concerned. They said they’ve spoken with coworkers and managers, and nothing has changed.
CBS 17 is not identifying the person and has altered their voice because they still work at the center.
When you call 911, seconds matter and that’s why the call takers and dispatchers at the Raleigh 911 call center are trained to determine your location in Wake County first. It’s so they can get first responders on their way to you.
But, when they answer calls from Durham, the same mapping programs don’t work.
“Before we started work, we spent three months in a training academy learning everything about Wake County’s geography,” the employee said.
City leaders in Durham said a COVID-19 outbreak created a staffing shortage back in December. Raleigh agreed to step in and help. But that assistance continues.
“We just barely manage to keep up with our own call volume, adding onto that the hundred plus calls we get from Durham, it’s overwhelming, which means that calls are getting missed,” the employee said.
The employee explained they call people back as quickly as they can. One such incident happened back on New Year’s Eve.
“As we’re going through them we found one of a person that was having a legitimate medical emergency whose call was not answered and whose help was delayed. Because we were too busy answering calls from Durham,” the employee said.
In response to CBS 17’s question, the director of Raleigh’s 911 Center, Dominick Nutter wrote:
“We understand that this situation is a difficult one for everyone involved. Here at the Raleigh/Wake 911 Center the welfare of our team is our first priority, however; the safety of the public is always our primary mission. As with any concerns we have an open-door policy and are here to listen to our employees however in this particular case the support was essential.
Our vacation draw occurs at the beginning of the calendar year and to date no vacations have been canceled. I believe the concern is last minute unscheduled vacation requests have been put on hold but this was due to COVID to ensure we were staffed in case of an absences due to positive tests. Lunch breaks which are an hour long may be canceled due to operational needs at times however team members are allowed to eat at their consoles.
As of this date, the ECC is handling less than 10% of the Durham 911 call volume and the Durham calls make up 4.8% of the RWECC call volume. The ECC continues to exceed the national standards in our call answer times. RWECC handled 175,787 911 calls from January 1, 2021, until May 8, 2020, and during the same timeframe in 2021, handled 179,550 911 calls, which represents a slight increase in calls handled, including redirected Durham calls. It is our hope that Durham 911 will return to normal staffing in the near future and regain their ability to sustain their operation without the assistance of the RWECC.”
That employee is concerned if this help continues, Raleigh’s center will also lose employees.