Portland City Council considers pilot program to shorten 9-1-1 wait times

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 1:07 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) -The Portland City Council is considering a pilot program designed to help shorten wait times for 9-1-1 calls.

According to Commissioner Mingus Mapps, the national standard for 9-1-1 calls is a 15-second wait time at most. In Portland, the current average is 69 seconds.

The call center in Portland that takes those calls said it is understaffed and even when they hire new workers, they do not have the resources to train them.

“This work cannot be contracted out. It requires a technical level of expertise and is not a skillset that can be learned quickly to provide a competent level of service,” said Annemarie Kevorkian-Mattie of the Bureau of Labor Relations. “In order to resolve long-term staffing needs, we must be forward thinking about how solutions can be put in place today to create a more efficient training pipeline.”

Officials also attribute an increase in 9-1-1 calls in Portland to the long wait times. Calls have increased by 25% in the last three years.

The pilot program being considered by City Council aims to address the long wait times by hiring more dispatchers for the rest of the fiscal year. It would also create a 3% pay bump for staffers who volunteer to train new dispatchers.

Funding for the program would come out of the current budget, so the program would not cost the City any extra money. The pilot program was proposed by Commissioner Maps at Wednesday’s City Council Meeting. It still needs approval from the Council before it can start.