Tulsa 911 Center Making Major Improvements
TULSA COUNTY, Oklahoma - After years of frustrations and lots of public complaints Tulsa's 911 Center is making significant improvements.
The 911 center now has 64 trained dispatchers, and 8 more waiting to be trained. That will be a 30 percent increase from a few years ago when they only had 55. The Tulsa's 911 center is the first line of defense for those who need it the most.
"There's an intrinsic significance in our jobs, it’s like the work is its own reward because you're serving our community," said Marcus Bush an Emergency 911 Operator.
Communications Director Terry O'Malley says 911 is supposed to answer 90 percent of the calls within 10 seconds during the busiest times of the day. A few years ago, only about 67% were being answered in 10 seconds.
"We had people who were waiting 60 seconds, 90 seconds over 120 seconds, which is two minutes for a 911 call," said O’Malley
O'Malley says there was not enough funding to staff the center and there was not enough attention given to hiring the right people.
"We were hiring people that wanted to try it out and 50 percent of those, academy students would fail or leave. You couldn't get many people to stay longer than a year," said O’Malley
In response to that and other issues, O'Malley says the hiring process has changed dramatically.
"We've got a dedicated resource who's out there looking for people and screening them," said O’Malley
Applicants are now going through a two-layer interview process, references are being checked, and people are being paid nearly $16 an hour, about $5 more than in 2013. All to make sure the people on both ends of the line are being cared for properly.