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Survey Suggests Difficulties Continue for 911 Call Centers

Results of the survey confirm that staffing continues to be an issue in the 911 call-taking industry, as does outdated technology — 75 percent of emergency communications centers lack the budget to keep up with hiring.

911 call centers are a critical part of public safety and yet they continue to suffer from staffing issues and outdated technology, a recent study confirmed.

The second annual Pulse of 911 survey, conducted by public safety tech firm Carbyne and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), found that 75 percent of emergency communications centers (ECC) lacked the budget to expand their workforce, adding to the stress and strain on current staff.

What’s more, the survey indicated that 82 percent of ECCs that had the necessary budget to hire more staff encountered difficulties filling vacancies. Complicating the matter is the fact that, according to the survey, 50 percent of trainees fail to complete their probationary periods.

Outdated technology also remained a significant challenge, with more than three-quarters of those surveyed saying their ECC had experienced a service outage that impeded 911 calls. Also, fewer than 27 percent of ECCs have the ability to communicate via text messaging, and just 24 percent can accept instant images, such as live video.

“There is an undeniable strain on the people who are the first first responders in public safety, the human voice on the line in a time of crisis,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA, in a statement. “Severe staffing challenges are continuing in 911, from difficulties in hiring new personnel to problems with employee retention and a mature workforce that shows signs of stress and burnout. We can and must do better for the people of 911 who do so much for us.”