ATLANTA (CBS46) — Understaffed and overwhelmed. That is how dispatchers are describing Atlanta's 9-1-1 call center.
The current staffing shortage is causing concern among workers and callers.
One mother told CBS46 that when she called 9-1-1, no one answered the call.
CBS46 Ciara Cummings found out that dozens of open positions have led to dispatch delays.
Ashley Billings says she witnessed a hit-and-run in southwest Atlanta last Tuesday. She claims a driver slammed into a car in front of her and narrowly missed kids at the crosswalk.
Billings says she wanted to show her 5-year-old how to be a Good Samaritan by calling 9-1-1 to report the incident.
Instead, her son wanted to know why the police were not answering the phone.
Atlanta police confirmed there was an influx of 9-1-1 calls that day and said there has been a major uptick of calls in 2021.
Data shows that dispatch answered calls with 10 seconds 82% of the time last year.
For this year, calls are being answered within 10 seconds about 77% of the time.
The Professional Association of City Employees, also known as PACE, says the 31 open positions within the 9-1-1 call center are not the only factor in the delays.
President Gina Pagnotta Murphy says employees are burnt out and it is impacting morale and communication.
She also said some former staff left because of pandemic problems like needing to teach their children at home.
Other staff claims that as the city grows, it creates more of a burden on the staff.
Also, too many calls lately have been non-emergencies and even pocket dials. Those tie up the lines.
The city is working on a plan to expand staff and cut 50,000 calls, which come from property alarms.
Workers and callers say the changes can't come soon enough.