LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Little Rock 911 is again coming under fire for delays in answering emergency calls.
Little Rock residents have reached out to the Working 4 You team, claiming they’ve waited 20 minutes or longer to get into Little Rock 911.
Candi Warren and Jeff Davis were two of those callers.
Warren says she called 911 on May 9 to report a car crash in her neighborhood. She says the call kept ringing and eventually she hung up.
“I had enough time to go change, walk down there and finish helping, and then that’s when they called,” Warren said.
Warren said she got a call back from the dispatcher more than 20 minutes later.
“It’s ridiculous, they should be there to help,” Warren said.
“When there’s an emergency, it should be no 20 minutes after, you should be there,” Davis said.
KARK obtained 911 call logs from the day of the crash.
On May 9, Little Rock 911 had 795 calls and 200 of them hung up before getting through to a dispatcher.
Warren says she hung up because she was left waiting.
“We shouldn’t have to call you guys back, you should already be on the phone answering,” Davis said.
Little Rock 911 has been dealing with staffing issues this past year.
In March, 911 Director Juana Green stood before the city board with 33 vacancies in her department. At the time, that was about half of her intended staff.
Monday, KARK got an update from the city, saying it now had 17 vacancies.
Aaron Sadler with the city says they have been able to fill open positions in part thanks to pay raises and bonuses. He said the city is planning on hosting a training on July 17 which will further reduce the number of vacancies.
“As you know, 911 Center staffing is an ongoing issue across the country, but we are clearly making strides toward onboarding additional call takers to serve our community,” Sadler said in a statement to KARK. “We have increased salaries and early this year we provided an additional bonus for call center employees. In coming weeks, we’ll be implementing new software that will help improve service quality and efficiency and help to streamline the training process.”
Sadler says that so far in 2023, 67% of calls are answered within 20 seconds.
Some residents say they’re still concerned, hoping the changes can be implemented sooner rather than later.
“Somebody could have been shot and 20 to 30 minutes is life or death,” Warren said.
According to call logs obtained by KARK for the second week of March, more than 1,200 callers hung up before getting in contact with a 911 dispatcher.
Sadler says the city encourages callers to remain on the line until the call is answered.