Local 911 response is stellar

Dispatchers took nearly all emergency calls in a few rings, review finds.

May 10, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Verdugo Fire Communications Center, which serves 12 area cities, answered 99.1% of incoming emergency calls last year within 10 seconds, far exceeding statewide standards, officials said.

The findings came as part of a review by the California 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Office of the center’s state-funded operations and equipment. The state requires 90% of emergency calls be answered within 10 seconds.

“Our people are the types who don’t like to hear the phones ringing,” said Don Wise, executive director of the Verdugo Fire Communications Center.


Verdugo dispatchers answered more than 96% of incoming emergency calls in six seconds or less, according to the Glendale Fire Department.

Only three incoming emergency calls rang more than a minute, but no calls exceeded two minutes, according to the department.

The state completed 62 operational reviews of dispatch centers in 2009, according to the emergency communications office report. Another 144 are planned for this year.

The Verdugo Fire Communications Center dispatch answers emergency calls for Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, Montebello, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

Four dispatchers and a supervisor work the night and day shifts, Wise said.

Verdugo’s focus on intense training, and the dispatchers’ increased awareness of response times, has allowed it to repeatedly exceed the state standard, he said.

“Our folks are trained to answer the call on the first ring because 10 seconds can seem like a lifetime,” Wise said.

More than 300 people applied for a vacant fire communications operator position at the center, Wise said. Testing will be next week and training lasts for six months.

The high-stress job requires that a dispatcher be an exceptional multitasker, he said.

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