A man who witnessed a robbery was shot at an Atlanta-area restaurant. When he called 911 for help, he was placed on hold more than once and never spoke with a dispatcher.
As the man stepped outside for a break during his shift at the Atlanta-area establishment, he inadvertently saw two men attempting to break into a car.
Startled, the thieves began to flee but not before one of them turned and shot the man.
He called the emergency number for help, but he was not prepared for what would come of his cries for help.
Fox 5 Atlanta reported that when the man called, he was immediately met with a recorded request to hold.
Frustrated and wounded, he attempted to call the emergency number several more times and kept receiving the same message to hold the line.
Eventually, one of the man’s co-workers knew an off-duty police officer, and he summoned help using his police radio.
Fortunately, the man was shot in the arm and not in a fatal area of the body. However, his co-workers tired of waiting on emergency services and drove him to the hospital.
The goal for emergency calls made to Atlanta dispatch centers is 10 seconds. Evidently, the city has been falling short of that metric.
Atlanta City Council member Michael J Bond addressed the issue of poor response times in a recent meeting and was told by the Atlanta Police Department Assistant Chief that there is a shortage of dispatch workers.
“There is a shortage [of dispatchers], but we’ve hired a large number of people this year to fill some of those vacancies,” Assistant Chief Todd Coyt said.
The shortage of dispatchers is similar in many major metro cities across the country. The average pay for dispatchers in 2017 was just over $41,000 per year. However, many who work those jobs believe they deserve more, primarily as the pandemic has caused mandatory overtime and increased stress.
With COVID-19 concerns and general emergencies, dispatcher shortages can mean the difference between life and death.