Tuesday, March 21, 2023

911 call wait times are probably longer than you thought

If, like me, you just assumed that 911 calls were always answered immediately, then recent stats should roundly disabuse you of that. Turns out, at least in Toronto, wait times for 911 responses are steadily creeping up and up. Well, not even steadily actually, more like precipitously. In 2021, average wait times were 19 seconds; in 2022, they had risen to 33 seconds, nearly double. 

Still, not that long in the scheme of things, wouldn't you say, although I imagine that 33 seconds can feel like an eternity in an emergency situation. But those averages hide some even scarier stats. Individual days can have average wait times of 6½ minutes, and the longest individual time was as much as 10 minutes! Now, that WOULD feel like an eternity.

The problem is that the city of Toronto, with a population of nearly 3 million (or 6 million depending on where you draw the borders) can have as few as ten 911 operators at times. The police service say they are actively recruiting more operators for the service, presumably in anticipation of fallout from this report. 

I have never had to call 911 in all my sixty-odd years, and I certainly hope I never have to, after reading this.

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