FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Fort Worth Police Department has been experiencing issues with their call center.
Residents have been reporting long delays and in some cases, even unanswered calls.READ MORE: Texas Officer Dies After Crash With 18-Wheeler While Responding To Emergency
Jamie Haswell said she experienced them firsthand last Wednesday night.
“This little one here went to bed and shortly after that I heard a strange sound from her room,” she said. “I went in there to check on her and found her unresponsive, not breathing.”
Haswell said she began CPR on her 2-year-old daughter, Mila, and called 911, but couldn’t get someone on the other line.
“It just went to a recording,” she said. “I continued what I was doing, but when no one answered after what felt like an eternity I just ran into the street and screamed for help.”
She said several neighbors came out and also tried to call 911.
“Nobody when they called got a person to answer the phone,” she said.
She took Mila to the hospital herself with the help of a neighbor. It turns out Mila was having a type of seizure that is pretty common when a child is running a fever, but Haswell stresses the situation could have been much worse.
“I spoke with the chief of the police department and chief of the fire department last night and they both vocalized their concerns about the issue,” she said.
Fort Worth police say pandemic related problems have slowed the hiring process for new call takers and made it more complicated. On top of this, other employees have left during a time where the population continues to grow rapidly.
“I work in the medical field and I know that when it comes to care like that, places will do anything like extra nurses, extra doctors,” Haswell said. “ I don’t know what kind of emergency funding goes into that, but I think that when there was a shortage notice it should’ve been addressed. Not to this point.”
To remedy the staffing issues, the Fort Worth Police Department has taken several steps to fix the immediate staffing issues as we implement long-term solutions to prevent our call center from ever being in this position again.
Some of these steps include:
· Streamlining the call-taking process to lessen the time that a call-taker is required to be on the phone with a caller.READ MORE: Padel Players Try Out For US National Team In Dallas
· Implementing modified work schedules in the call center to increase the staffing that is available at all times.
· Temporarily mandating overtime shifts for all call center employees to also increase available staffing as we work towards training new employees.
· Continuing to focus on our hiring campaign to identify viable call taking candidates and bring them on board as quickly as possible.
· Assigning additional background officers to expedite the hiring process for new call takers.
· Bringing new leadership into the call center with fresh, inventive ideas and insight.
· Soliciting input from our call center employees on bettering their work environment.
· Conducting a salary study to make sure Fort Worth remains competitive in pay with other regional call centers.
· Recruiting retired call takers to work on a part-time basis to immediately increase staffing levels.
· Assignment of injured or light-duty police employees to the call center.
· Allowing sworn and non-sworn police employees to staff the call center as needed.
· Coordinating with other local 911 call centers on ideas and methods to increase the hiring, retention, and efficiency of call-takers.
“The Fort Worth Police Department is committed to the safety and well-being of our citizens. We continue to work diligently on addressing the staffing issues in our 911 call center to ensure that the citizens of Fort Worth receive the service that they deserve,” the department said.
“It is now our number one priority in the city to make sure that when you call 911 can you get a live person,” Councilman Chris Nettles said.
“I’m thankful that those steps are being taken and I hope they’re taken to heart,” Haswell said. “ I don’t know how to follow up with that, but right now I’m glad it’s being recognized.”MORE NEWS: Over 250 Guns Surrendered To DeSoto Police During Saturday Event
On top of this, Fort Worth Police say they’re also coordinating with other local call centers trying to get more ideas and methods from them to fix the issues.