Abandoned 911 calls; a big problem for Communications Center

Published: Apr. 12, 2016 at 7:05 PM CDT
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Dispatchers at the Lincoln Emergency Communications Center call themselves the "first" first responders.

Julie Righter Dove, Communications Coordinator, said "If we don't take the call right, get all the right people responding, we're the ones between you and help."

Righter Dove said the last year has presented some challenges. "We went through a time where we were trying to hire a lot of people. We have been very successful over the last year in doing that. We have another class we are taking applications for in May." She hopes to hire at least 3 more people.

There are some major technology projects going on at the Communications Center. Righter Dove said, "We have a new phone system that is coming in. It's part of a partnership with 14 other 911 systems within the southeast region of Nebraska." She said the new system will allow the center to bring in text to 911.

Righter Dove said, "We would always prefer to be able to talk to you, but if you are in a position where the only means of communicating safely is a text, we'll be able to accept those before the end of the year."

The 911 radio system was awarded to Motorola. Righter Dove said they have been working since the end of March when the City Council approved the contract. Righter Dove said, "We've already received delivery on some of the equipment. We have a lot of work to do, but it's exciting to have it moving forward."

Another challenge the Communications Center is seeing is abandoned 911 calls. Righter Dove said, "People realized they called, but they hang up. It's better to just stay on the line. It's okay to make a misdial, but it's better for us if you stay on the line and say I'm sorry, I didn't mean to call you."

She said the number of abandoned calls are an even bigger issue than the number of non-emergency calls that happen, although she said it does happen.

Senior Public Safety Dispatcher, Shasta Starkey, said "I feel like there is some education that needs to be put out there that we do have a non-emergency line. We are a full service center." The non-emergency line is 402-441-6000.

Starkey said, "Obviously if there is some sort of disturbance when somebody could possibly harm you, those are clearly emergency situations. Now if you come out to your vehicle and find it was broken into, to me that would be a non-emergency type of situation."

The week of April 10th-April 16th if National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. It's a time to honor those who dedicate their lives to public safety.