Special Investigation - Fresno's 911 Delays

Imagine having an emergency and turning to 911 for help only to be put on hold. It's happening in Fresno more often than you may think. In a KMPH Fox 26 Investigation we found out more about "Fresno's 911 Delays." In a life or death situation 911 is your lifeline. However, when you call for help you might get this recording on the other line. "Hello, you have reached the city of Fresno's Police Communications Center. All the dispatchers are busy answering emergency calls; your call will be answered in the ordered received." The average time someone is one hold for is twelve seconds. "Now, many of the calls are answered sooner than that, some are answered in a greater time than that," says Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. According the Fresno Police Department's records between 2008 and 2013 the 911 answer delay went up from three seconds to twelve seconds. So, why does it take so long for a dispatcher to get to your call? Chief Dyer says there are several reasons why. The main reason is there are not enough dispatchers "The truth is there are sometimes when we simply, just because of the volume of calls that are out there, do not have the ability to respond to all the 911 calls as quickly as we would like to," adds Chief Dyer. In 2008 there were 90-dispatchers in the Fresno Police Communications Center. During the recession the number dwindled down to 74, but incoming calls went up. The department recently hired 9-dispatchers and they are all in training. "In law enforcement you can't just hire someone today and have them answering phones the following day," says Chief Dyer, "There is a significant training period required and often times that is six to seven months." If someone is put on hold, hanging and calling back is the worst thing you can do, because you lose your place in line. Other problems are people accidentally calling for help. Cell phones are a culprit because instead of getting one phone call for something like a car accident, now there 4 or 5. The next step to fix the 911 answer delay is to find a way to separate non-emergency calls from life threatening ones.{}There is a separate non-emergency number, but people like to call 911 even if they don't need immediate help. The police department is also using police cadets and officers on light duty to help out in dispatch.