Rockford, Ill. (WTVO) — Last week the Rockford Fire Department released its 2020 statistics but it fell short on some of its goals.
One of the biggest disparities comes in the time it takes dispatchers to answer 911 calls.
“The goal is to have the calls answered within 10 or 15 seconds,” said Todd Stockburger, the Rockford 911 Division Administrator.
In the month of May, the Rockford Fire Department made that goal on 75% of calls which is below their goal of 90%.
911 Division Administrator Todd Stockburger, says fully staffed Rockford should have four operators but due to COVID-19 they had to take extra safety precautions with social distancing.
There’s been as few as two 911 operators during a shift.
“There are varying reasons why the calls are not answered as quickly as we would want them answered and perhaps the COVID pandemic has increased the call answering time a little bit maybe one of the biggest reasons for the increased time is we have less personnel answering the telephones,” Stockburger says.
911 operators have to ask additional questions related to COVID-19, which have slowed the process down a bit. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office 911 coordinator Jeanine Kaplan says these questions are critical to ensure the safety of first responders and patients.
“So while somebody might be on a call getting further information including COVID related questions to protect the emergency response as well as the patients we have other people that are dispatching the appropriate personnel at the same time if not faster,” Kaplan said.
Stockburger says the department is always working on making improvements but getting accurate information is always at the forefront.
“We have to ask those questions and get really good picture of what’s going on and the only way to do that is over the phone with lots and lots of questions,” Stockburger says,
The department is working on eventually bringing in a fourth 911 operator so they can finally work at full capacity.