Although the second phase of the 911 Center audit released Thursday statistically disproves concerns dispatchers are mishandling calls, employee opinions suggest otherwise.
Of the almost 1,950 calls to the 911 Center monitored by the Public Safety Communications Center, Matrix Consulting Group, the auditor of the Dane County 911 Center, said all but 0.065 percent — three calls — were not called back, according to Travis Miller, vice president of Matrix.
Also, of the randomly monitored calls, quality assurance staff said there were 64 instances in which the 911communicator was not “firm” quickly enough during the phone call, Miller added.
On a national level, failure to call back a hang-up call is 0.1 percent, Miller said. He assured the Dane County Board of Supervisors the center is achieving more than standard.
Miller alleged that in a high pressure situation, callers who dial the 911 Center’s non-emergency line often panic if their call is not immediately answered, and hang up.
He said between the third and fourth ring, a “please do not hang up or you will lose your place on line” message should be repeated to assure callers their call will be answered shortly.
“If you call 911 and hang up, you’re a disconnected call,” Miller said, adding the call could be considered a hang-up call even if the caller redials. “Instead of sucking up one communicator’s time, you are sucking up two communicators’ time.”
The handling of calls placed to the 911 Center were brought into question after the mishandling of a call from UW junior Brittany Zimmermann’s cell phone on April 2, 2008, the day she was killed.
According to the 911 Center employee survey included in the second phase of the audit, 63 percent of employees do not think the current process of answering emergency calls is efficient and effective.
Additionally, an overwhelming 82 percent of employees think 911 Center policies and procedures are unclear and irrelevant to their jobs, while 80 percent said they do not think policies and procedures are up-to-date.
“One of the things that’s important to recognize is that the center … is part of continuous improvement,” Miller said.
However, he strongly recommended the 911 Center enhance its directive management procedures, calling the adjustment the most critical recommendation Matrix is making.
Miller noted the current process the Center Board, advisory committees and the PSCC use to implement changes in delivery protocols does not ensure the highest level of service to Dane County residents.
He added the 911 Center is a multi-jurisdictional center and since its job is to ensure the safety of citizens, the process in which policies are changed needs to be uniform.
In the audit, Matrix recommends developing a “formal process for considering, evaluating and implementing changes in its operating policies.”
Miller suggested introducing all new changes in policy once a month.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said in a statement she agreed consolidating the numerous protocols is a recommendation that needs to be prioritized.
In an opposing statement, Falk’s challenger Nancy Mistele said although the PSCC employees are working as adequately as they can to ensure the safety of the county, Falk has not implemented the appropriate tools to successfully manage the center.