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Officials: Vacancies, non-emergency calls slowing down Tulsa 911 response time

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City Says More Operators Are Desperately Needed

TULSA, Okla. – Most people who call 911 need help immediately, which is why one woman became concerned when no one answered the call.

Amanda Duenner told KJRH that she had to call 911 twice in one week for two separate incidents. In the first case, she says she was able to get help from EMSA paramedics and the Tulsa Fire Department right away.

She had to call 911 again the next day but says no one answered the phone.

“I was on that call for approximately, I would say, close to three minutes,” Duenner said.

She says she hung up and tried to handle the situation herself.

Duenner contacted city officials about the wait time, and was told that the average wait time for a dispatcher during the time she called was about three minutes.

“Three minutes to answer a call is definitely a critical time between life and death for someone.” Duenner said.

Officials at the 911 Center agree.

“A 3-minute wait time is not what we want for Tulsa,” said Director Terry O’Malley.

O’Malley says dispatchers are overwhelmed by people calling 911 by accident and non-emergency calls. Also, she says there are 19 vacancies at the center, making it difficult for the remaining dispatchers to handle the 1,600 calls it receives a day.

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