Calgary’s 911 call centre is not meeting its key performance indicators.
The target is to answer 95 per cent of police 911 calls within 15 seconds but in 2015 and 2016, the 911 call centre fell just short of the mark at 93 per cent in 2015 and 94 per cent in 2016. It’s expected the target won’t be met this year either.
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The results were released at city council’s audit committee on Thursday.
One huge concern was a 20 per cent increase in sickness and absence per employee over the past two years. With limited resources, that has resulted in huge overtime payments.
“The mission critical nature of our work is such that in a 24/7 environment in a 911 centre, we continually do what we call ‘constant manning,'” said Doug Odney, commander of Calgary 911. “If somebody does book off and is not able to come to work, we do have to fill their position with double overtime as well as our on-call employees.”
The city auditor has made several recommendations which are being implemented, including a revised staffing plan and wellness initiative.
The length of time operators are on a call also increased by five per cent in 2015 and 2016.
Odney says there were a couple of reasons for that: a surge in calls about auto and licence plate thefts last year and an increase in calls about people targeted in a Canada Revenue Agency scam where people are threatened with police coming to their door if they don’t pay a fictitious tax bill.
“That actually turned out to be quite positive. We took detailed reports that assisted Calgary police,” Odney said. “They (Calgary police) did work with international agencies and one of those call centres was actually shut down outside of Canada.”
Odney also says an automated call-back process is being looked at when it comes to abandoned calls. If a number of people are at a scene and they all call 911 then hang up after one person gets through, a call back has to be made, which ties up resources.