Philadelphia facing 911 dispatcher shortage

911 is a lifeline for many people in the community, but what if you can’t get through when time is of the essence?

It’s taking longer to get these emergency vehicles to your emergency in Philadelphia with a critically low number of staff working at the city’s 911 call center. 

One police source says the phone can ring as much as 30 times before an operator answers that's several minutes when seconds mean everything. 

Many Philly residents have reached out to FOX 29 alerting us to the problem, which could mean the difference between life and death. Police sources say the issue has gone on for months.

So why is a fix taking so long?

"It’s something that we’re diligently working on to ensure that our response times are what they should be," Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

Outlaw adds the department just got authorization to hire more 911 dispatchers and just had a class graduate with a new training series starting soon. The city is also looking to hire more women for positions all across the police department as part of a boost in staffing diversity.  However, the issue is still complex. 

"What’s the least you need in terms of staffing for, especially 911," FOX 29's Dave Kinchen asked.

"You know I wouldn’t be able to give you that answer off the top of my head, but again when you look at the demographic or the employees that work in there there’s a high number of single parents that work there. I don’t want to say force but when you compel staff to work a lot of mandatory overtime during a pandemic. It makes professionally it makes it very difficult for people to manage their personal lives as well," Outlaw explained.



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