Sedgwick County to add more 911 call takers: ‘It will make a difference’

Local

Sedgwick County is putting more money toward public safety.

The more than $419 million county budget passed Wednesday, allowing for additional positions at the 911 communications center.

Elora Forshee, the Director of Emergency Communications for Sedgwick County says right now call takers and dispatchers take about nine calls, a piece, in about an hour time frame.  Forshee says they sometimes take on more calls when it gets busy.

Which is why Forshee says the addition of six call takers will help take on some of the calls and hopefully keep wait times at a minimum.

“Wait times are created through several problems or issues we are facing,” said Forshee.  “One of them we’ve talked about is cell phone hang-ups that come through and misdials,” added Forshee.

Forshee says in 2017, call takers and dispatchers dealt with more than 94-thousand 911 cell phone hang ups and misdials.  That’s down from more than 129-thousand in 2016.

It’s something that can tie up the 16 call takers and 64 dispatchers the 911 center has.

Forshee says this is why they pushed to add more people.

“Adding six people to our staffing members will just help us to be able to answer those calls more quickly to serve our citizens more efficiently, to field personnel more efficiently,” said Forshee.

Forshee says more staff will help especially during peak times of day.

“During peak times, we have, during an hour we can have 160 calls come in to the center total, that is a quite bit higher than anyone else in the state of Kansas,” said Forshee.  “It will make a difference, every position that we add provides another person to help out somebody in need, when they need the help the most and need it fast,” added Forshee.

Forshee says they are actively looking to fill the six positions.

She’s hopeful to get them through the academy, trained and ready to go as soon as possible.

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