Victoria’s 911 call centre affected by staffing shortage

Victoria's 911 call centre affected by staffing shortage

WATCH: Calvin To takes you inside Victoria’s 911 call centre where officials say there is currently a staffing shortage.

Officials say there is a currently a shortage of 911 call takers across the country, including in Victoria.

According to data from Victoria police, more than 42,774 calls came into the communications hub in 2015. That number rose to more than 45,103 in 2016.

More than 92 per cent of calls were answered within 10 seconds or less.

One of the main reasons behind the lack of available call takers has to do with the stresses associated with the job, according to staff.

“I think when you first start and you’re picking up that 911 call, you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, that you need to get everything right the first time,” said Nikki Nelson, a shift supervisor. “People are phoning 911 not because it’s their best moment. They’re phoning 911 because, typically, it’s their worst moment. And you are the first line of response.”

For the hundreds of people who apply to be a 911 call taker, generally, only a few are selected.

Training is also extensive. It takes six months with a coach to become a call taker, and another six months to work as a dispatcher.

Nelson says it is a challenging but rewarding position.

“There’re days that are the toughest days of your life and they’re days that are the best days of your life. But ultimately, it’s a calling. And we’ve all come to this career because we want to help people. And somehow, at the end of the day, we’ve made that happen,” Nelson said.

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