Providing emergency assistance when residents need it most continues to be the utmost priority of the Durham Emergency Communications Center (DECC).
To do that, we must answer emergency calls as quickly as possible: That’s the bottom line. The industry standard is to answer 90 percent of calls in 10 seconds or less. We have seen our call-answer time improve over the last year, averaging nearly 84% of calls in 10 seconds or less and 86% in 15 seconds or less.
Is this where we want to be? I, along with the rest of the DECC team, readily acknowledge we still have work to do. But I want you to know what is currently making the difference:
- Administrative staff and dedicated call takers are working shifts when they are needed most
- Former retirees are supporting training efforts
- Other public safety agencies, including fire fighters, are continuing to support our call taking efforts
- Newly trained call takers are getting to the floor sooner to take calls than previously thanks to improvements in our training program
- Call takers continue to work at least 10 hours of overtime monthly to ensure that sufficient staff are available for various high-volume shifts
I continue my pledge to be fully transparent as we work to improve staffing. Here are steps that we’ve taken:
- Provided incentives for newly hired staff and bonuses to existing staff who’ve taken classes to advance their telecommunication training in the DECC
- Increased our recruitment efforts by attending job fairs where likely candidates might be
- Focused on retention by providing more growth opportunities, as well as emotional support to encourage staff to continue their careers with DECC
- Added more training academies and increased the number of trainees in each academy
Despite all this, our staffing levels over the past year have ebbed and flowed, not remaining at a consistent level to achieve the stability we need to reach our performance targets. We realize the current job market is challenging in Durham and across the country. Also, while the job of a call taker is often rewarding, it can be just as stressful. We, like many other 911 Centers, are working to solve the recruitment and retention challenge.
Again, I firmly believe that we are taking the right steps to reach a standard of excellence and to provide the service that our residents and visitors expect and deserve. We appreciate your patience as we continue on this journey.
Director, Durham Emergency Communications Center
Click or call 919-560-1200