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Tracking time to answer 911 calls in Marion County

Posted at 9:46 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 21:46:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — When you need help, seconds matter. And when people call 911, they expect to speak to a dispatcher quickly.

But, in Tiffany Coker's case she waited for 1 minute and 38 second before hanging up, calling back a second time and waiting for 16 more seconds before hanging up again.

A dispatcher eventually called her back.

RELATED STORY | Mom expresses concern over 911 system in Marion County

Call 6 Investigates requested the call log records from last year and this year, month-by-month, to see just how big of a problem this is, if at all. We found in 2019 the average wait time for someone to speak to a dispatcher was about 19 seconds.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office told Call 6 Investigates each year June and July are always the two busiest months for the 911 center.

During the time frame Coker called on June 14, there were multiple active incidents throughout Marion County that might have caused the long wait time including a hit-and-run crash with injuries, a reckless driver, a disturbance, an unconscious person and more.

To compare this day to last year, the 911 center received 2,400 calls as opposed to 2,003 calls in 2019.

The sheriff's office said a few years ago staffing was a big issue and why people were waiting so long to have their call answered. They believe the 911 center has seen so much turnover because dispatchers in Marion County are paid significantly lower than surrounding counties. But they want to remind people do not hang up. They answer calls in the order they are received and hanging up just slows down their ability to answer incoming calls.