Average 911 hold time in Kansas City is 31 seconds, data shows - KCTV5

Average 911 hold time in Kansas City is 31 seconds, data shows

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Every month, our KCTV5 News investigative team tracks the data for phone calls. We’ve discovered the problem is getting worse. (KCTV5) Every month, our KCTV5 News investigative team tracks the data for phone calls. We’ve discovered the problem is getting worse. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

If you live in Kansas City and need to call 911 for emergency help, be prepared to wait.

Every month, our KCTV5 News investigative team tracks the data for phone calls. We’ve discovered the problem is getting worse. The average hold time is now 31 seconds. Last month, someone waited more than 17 minutes for emergency help.

Police department responds

Jean Fracassa, the Kansas City Police Department’s communications supervisor, questioned if someone really sat on hold for more than 17 minutes even though that was in 911 records.

 “As far as 17 minutes and 27 seconds. No, I don’t find that acceptable, and I don't find that it's possibly accurate information,” Fracassa said.

KCTV5 double checked with record keepers who inform us computers and software track 911 calls. Fracassa did acknowledge that hold times are too long, and the department is trying to fix the problem.

“We are doing a huge recruitment. If anybody is interested in this type of job, this would be a great opportunity for them,” Fracassa said.

Fracassa said a city our size would normally have around 130 call takers. Kansas City currently has 78. The department is going to recruitment fairs and looking to fill 14 more potions.

The department plans to ask the city for close to a million dollars so they can hire 20 more call takers. That would bring staffing levels to 112.

Fracassa says the 911 call center often gets overwhelmed with numerous phone calls for the same accident and call takers often get calls that could go to the city’s 311 information line.

The department wants to remind people the police non-emergency number is 816-234- 5111.

Callers speak out

KCTV5 has done numerous reports on people who questioned if hold times made the difference between life and death.

Teresea Tschirhart says she found her son unresponsive, but he still had a pulse. She sat on hold several times before she finally got through.

“I always just wondered if maybe they could have saved him,” Tschirhart said.

Tony Shaw says he’s disappointed in 911. His wife, April Shaw, died last year.

“By the time they actually got here, it was really too late. I could see it in her face,” he said.

KCTV5 has heard of several emergencies where people simply gave up on their 911 calls and ran to fire stations for help. That was the case with the owner of Clint’s Comics who was robbed and died after being injured at the crime scene.

People rushed to help James Cavanaugh, but they sat on hold for more than six minutes. Someone finally ran to a nearby fire station for help.

Data shows the average hold time on May 12 was 54 seconds, and someone waited eight minutes on hold.

 KCTV5 viewers have also posted about the problem saying they thought they "dialed the wrong number" and called the problem "ridiculous" and "unacceptable."

Call takers

Call takers make around $36,000 plus benefits. There is the possibility for overtime.

The department pays a higher rate for candidates who are bilingual. They are looking for people with good customer service skills and feel comfortable multitasking.

For more information, click here.

If you would like to let KCTV5 know about a problem you have had with 911, email angie.ricono@kctv5.com.

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