News 5 Investigates

Jul 8, 2014 10:48 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Wait times for 9-1-1 calls in Colorado Springs


Colorado Springs police have rolled out a new automated message that will play for 9-1-1 callers who are having to hold for help when call takers are tied up with other calls. The message asks callers not to hang up, and remain on the line for assistance. CSPD says callers who hang up and keep calling back further delay response times. 


When you dial 9-1-1, you expect someone to pick up instantly, but that's not always the case.

Call takers admit there are times when they are fielding calls left and right for hours at a time. Unfortunately, not every call is answered as quickly as it should be. In some cases, it can take a minute or two for someone to pick up.

Inside the police operations center downtown, call takers have little free time and answer hundreds of calls on any given day. Some calls are life-threatening, while others are not.

"When someone has something happen to them, in their world it is an emergency," Public Safety Communications Manager Renee Henshaw said. "Looking at the big picture, it may not be a life or death emergency.

Several of you reached out to us on social media and via email. While some of you shared positive experiences with call takers, others expressed disappointment.

"When you do dial 9-1-1, like any other business we experience busy and slow times," Henshaw explained.

Henshaw says waiting for more than a minute is rare, but it does happen. She says the best thing for callers to do is remain calm and stay on the line.

Whatever you do, don't hang up!

"When you hang up and call back, it can actually slow the process down and make it more difficult for us to get to your phone call," Henshaw said.

The City meets minimum staffing requirements for all call taker shifts, but admits they could use more assistance and are actively hiring.

Henshaw adds that they are also looking at better ways to communicate with callers who are on-hold with 9-1-1.

"One of the ideas we've been contemplating is adding a recording that tells people they've reached 9-1-1 and to stay on the line," Henshaw said.

Once new positions are filled, Henshaw believes this will decrease wait times.

Non-emergency calls should always be phoned into the City's non-emergency line at 444-7000.

Common delays in answering phones stem from callers dialing 9-1-1 for non-emergency calls, 9-1-1 hang-ups, and prank calls.

The Colorado Springs Police Department says abusing 9-1-1 could result in hefty fines and will deal with these situations on a case-by-case basis.



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