911 hold times reach average of 35 seconds, KCPD blames staffing shortages

Data reveals four days in September that had 911 hold times in Kanas City averaging 50 seconds or more.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - People across Kansas City are waiting longer for help in emergencies. The average queue time for 911 emergency calls is now 35 seconds.

Data reveals four days in September that had hold times averaging 50 seconds or more.

“That is definitely not something that we want,” said 911 training supervisor Tammy Bazzle. She called the situation critical and says the department is trying to hire 29 call takers.

The department recently bumped pay to more than $20 an hour in an effort to recruit more people.

The supervisor said in the meantime, current employees are working long hours and voluntarily signing up for overtime. The department also now hires independent contractors from other departments to help fill the gaps.

Here’s how you can apply.

How KCMO compares to other departments

911 calls in the greater KC area are managed through the Mid-America Regional Council.

Online data reveals queue times for all departments in our region. It spells out national standards. Ninety percent of all calls should be answered in 15 seconds or less and 95 percent of calls in under 20 seconds.

Many local departments beat these goals. Overland Park answers 98% of calls in less than 15 seconds and 99 percent of calls in under 20 seconds. Lee’s Summit, Liberty and Independence also beat the national standards.

Kansas City’s data is reflected in red. Just 56 percent of calls are answered in 15 seconds or less. Sixty percent are answered in less than 20 seconds.

It’s a reality that KCTV5 has covered as people are surprised by the recorded message they hear encouraging them to hold on the line. People have given up on 911 when people were hit by cars and then friends ran to firehouses for help. A father threw his seizing child into the car and drove him to the hospital not knowing how long the wait could possibly be.

How you can help

The Kansas City Police Department asks people to reserve 911 for true emergencies and consider if another number might be more appropriate.

City complaints -311

United Way Help - 211

Mental Health Crisis Line - 988

KCPD Non- emergency number is 816-234-5111

KCPD answers calls with questions relating to the time, how to carve turkeys and animal complaint calls.