Citizens Will Wait Less, Use Texting, With Spokane 911 Changes

By Paige Browning

Spokane County’s 911 staff is about to grow, in order to speed up answering time.  Six call receivers will join the call center in the new year.
Spokane County 911 answers 95% [95-percent] of calls in 20 seconds or less.  911 director Lorlee Mizell says their goal is to answer 98% [98-percent] of calls in that time.
 
“We need more call takers during what’s called a power shift, which basically staggers those calls takers from nine in the morning up through the early evening hours so our biggest peak periods are covered.”
 
911 currently has 45 call takers on staff.  Mizell will hire six more, and promote a supervisor, in February.  County 911 also hopes to adopt a next generation 911 system that would have capabilities for text, pictures, and video.  Mizell says the program would cost $1.2 million [one-point two million dollars], which comes out of a state excise tax created in February of 2012.
 
“The biggest thing is the hearing impaired and speech impaired that really need to be able to communicate from their smart phones.  Right now the technology they have to communicate with us is old.”
 
Mizell says King County will be ready for texting in 2013, and she is applying for it now with hopes to have the system in place in August, 2013.
 
Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio
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