City of Atlanta working to hire more 911 operators to help with response times

ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor wants voters to approve a $400 million referendum to improve public safety.

That includes hiring more 911 operators.

It’s true the city needs to make improvements to public safety structures like their police and fire stations, but they also need more operators in order to make across the board improvements to the 911 system.

“This is not an easy job,” 911 Center Director Desiree Arnold told Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston.

The city is trying to recruit more 911 operators to help with their response time to emergency calls.

“We are hiring every day,” Arnold said.

During a tour of the 911 center, Huddleston counted 10 or 11 operators answering emergency calls.

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Some operators, who didn’t want to be identified, said they have a difficult time keeping up with the number of calls that come into the center.

“Right now, we’re at about 82%” Arnold said.

“What does that mean?” Huddleston asked Arnold.

“82% of our calls are answered in less than 10 seconds,” Arnold said.

Atlanta Mayor Andre dickens wants voters to help the center by supporting a public safety referendum on the primary ballot.

Some $15 million would be used to update computer servers, technology and other equipment.

But Dickens realizes it’s not just technology. The center needs more operators to improve wait times and maybe the $38,000 a year starting salary isn’t enough to get people to apply.

“We’re still doing an independent study to determine where we should be financially over in compensation over the next few weeks,” Dickens said. “Once that study is complete, we’ll take a careful look at the findings and act accordingly.”

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