The Durham Emergency Communications Center (DECC) recognizes it is critically important to fully staff our 911 center with well-trained professionals to serve anyone in need of emergency assistance. I want everyone to know that we are answering 911 calls, and residents should absolutely call us in an emergency. While most calls are answered quickly, we understand too many people are experiencing prolonged wait times.
I also want to take the opportunity to recognize the incredible work of our call takers and the heavy burden they have carried. Our call volumes have surged, and that increase in calls has fallen on their shoulders. This team is second-to-none, and they have my gratitude for their continued public service during this challenging time for our Center.
We are on our journey to permanently achieve and maintain adequate staffing. As part of my commitment to being transparent with our residents about the steps we’re taking to address this important issue, below is an update on our progress to date:
- To support staff levels, we’ve required that our administrative staff and call takers be available to work when needed.
- We’re streamlining call processes to improve call answer times.
- We’ve simplified our training process to better support the timely release of trainees.
- We’re providing a hiring bonus for external candidates and to existing staff who want to advance their career in the DECC
- We are continuing to partner with other local public safety agencies to allow their employees who work in similar dispatching positions to work at the DECC on temporary basis.
- We’re looking at every aspect of our workplace environment to ensure we support our existing staff and encourage them to continue their careers with DECC.
- We’ve hired additional training staff to support expanded capacity in our new call-taker academies.
- The number of training academies increased this year and 4 academies are planned in 2022 and also increased the number of trainees in each academy.
For even more detailed information about the immediate actions, we’re taking for short-and long-term impact, I invite you to watch my September 9 presentation to the City Council, which is available for on-demand viewing on the City’s YouTube channel.
While we are not where we need to be, we are taking urgent and appropriate steps to get us to improve our call answer time and to meet the expectations of our residents. I am committed, diligently working and will not rest until we have returned to the standard of excellence in call answer times that our residents and visitors deserve.
Director, Durham Emergency Communication Center