Officials: San Diego’s 911 system ‘on the brink of crisis’

The police emergency call times now meet national standards, but a dispatch union rep said the fire department call center is understaffed and overwhelmed

By EMS1 Staff

SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego is experiencing long wait times when trying to reach the San Diego Fire Department call center.

NBC San Diego reported that Mayor Kevin Faulconer promised to improve police emergency call times a year ago, which now meet the national standards.  However, a union rep for dispatchers said the call center for the San Diego Fire Department is now on the "brink of crisis."

A report commissioned by the city said dispatchers at Metro Zone Emergency Command and Data Center are struggling to handle 911 calls due to low staffing levels of just seven employees. The report found that 911 callers were often placed on “excessive wait times,” waiting for more than 59 seconds “on many observed occasions.”

The national standard is 10 seconds or less for 90 percent of received calls.

"The call wait times have not manifested themselves quite as badly as it did with SDPD, but it is on the brink of crisis," dispatcher union general manager Michael Zucchet said. "If they lose another few more people at the wrong time, they will be in the same boat where they cannot handle the call volume."

SDFD said they are planning to hire 14 more dispatchers, but urge residents to not call 911 in non-emergency situations.

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