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Does Ramsey County’s Emergency Center need help?

Posted in Uncategorized July 7th, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

Quick, what is the number you call for an emergency?

911 - of course!

But in the latest article in the Twin Cities say that the emergency center for Ramsey County may need help.

Call volumes during the month of July in Minnesota tend to be 25 percent higher than in December. Lately, the county’s Emergency Communications Center is ailing and some people are questioning if the dispatchers can keep up. You see, in the first six months after the merger of the St. Paul, Maplewood and Ramsey County sheriff’s 911 operations last year, the ECC exceeded national standards for speed in answering 911 calls. The standard of answering at least 90 percent of 911 calls is 10 seconds. Scott Williams, who is director of Ramsey County emergency communications and oversees the combined center, said that the center will continue trying to keep up the same service.

But with insufficient staffing, inadequate training and equipment glitches all seem to have compromised service. Some of the problems included emergency responders were sent to wrong addresses, tornado sirens did not sound or were delayed and key details about emergency calls were not passed on to first responders.

Everyday there are at least 105 call takers and dispatchers at the center but 114 people are needed to fully staff the center. The center plans to hire nine more call takers sometime in September.

Was merging the call centers a wise decision? Critics say that St. Paul has benefited more than the suburbs. However, plans to analyze how the center performs begin today for the next month.

Until then, don’t forget what they say in an emergency situation – keep calm and call 911 and hope they get it right.

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