Beach dispatcher vacancies lead to longer wait times, thousands in overtime costs
Virginia Beach, Va. - Just as the Virginia Beach 911 Call Center is nationally recognized for how well it trains its dispatchers, NewsChannel 3 has obtained months of Virginia Beach 911 call center records and that show calls in queue are common at the call center.
While records show queue times are between two and 38 seconds on the low end, documents show some calls have been in queue for five, seven and even nine minutes.
NewsChannel 3 spoke with Beach 911 manager Lori Stiles last month, after a Virginia Beach mother was put on hold twice after a car accident.
Stiles said the department is understaffed by nearly two dozen dispatchers.
“Right now, we do adjustments. We also do overtime. Our staff works overtime to fill some of those gaps,” Stiles said.
The call center’s overtime, NewsChannel 3 has learned, totaled more than $644,000 for calendar year 2012.
The numbers indicate the understaffed 911 center is overworking the call takers they do have.
“That is one of the things [we] are focusing on, getting more call takers in these seats,” Stiles said.
Stiles said high turnover and finding passionate dispatchers are to blame for the vacancies.
Funding for salaries, she said, is not.