Jonesboro E911 expands to absorb large call volume

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - If you're in an accident, burglarized, or any other type of crisis, 9-1-1 is the number you might call. This past year the Jonesboro Emergency 9-1-1 Call Center received more than 250-thousand calls. And with approval for this year's budget, the center is now adding two new additions so they can manage the load. Not as dispatchers, but call takers.

"They would be trained to recognize the priority of the call, is this something that needs to be taken care of right away? They'll actually set that priority in the CAD system," said Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley. This acts as a filter system between non-emergency and emergency calls that required dispatch. Currently, dispatchers handled both duties. So in order to keep up with the pace, traffic growth and population, the center is now taking steps to evolve more into that of a larger city.

"In the bigger centers around the country, they've always separated call takers from dispatchers. We are just getting that point in growth that it's time to separate here in Jonesboro," said Presley.

He says it is a huge step for the center. "This is going to be great. We've been looking to do this for quite a few years now. I think this is going to be beneficial to Craighead County as well as Jonesboro," said Presley.

He says one positive may include improvements to your insurance service office rating. "The more personnel you have answering the phones and dispatching, the better ratings you're going to get. Not only that, but there's the safety factor," said Presley.

He also added there are benefits for the center involving dispatcher "burn out."

"Dispatchers work weekends, holidays, year round. We've had a large turnover rate over the past few years due to stress. This is going to help with the stress level," said Presley.

Presley says he hopes to have the two position filled by the beginning of February.

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