What has been the staffing history over the past several years (authorized versus actual) for the 2 vacant call taking positions within the 911 center that were eliminated from the proposed budget?

FY 2017 Budget Question: What has been the staffing history over the past several years (authorized versus actual) for the 2 vacant call taking positions within the 911 center that were eliminated from the proposed budget?

Page updated on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:08 AM

Staffing History:
The following table summarizes staffing levels for call-taking positions (defined as job specifications Public Safety Communication Officers I, II, and III) by quarter in FY 2015 and FY 2016 to date. As the result of the proposed budget reduction, authorized call-taking FTEs would decrease to 33 effective July 1, 2016.

Date
Authorized
FTEs
Filled
Active
In-Training
Vacant
Notes
Q1 2015
(July 2014)
35
33
23
10
2

Q2 2015
(Oct 2014)

35
31
31
0
4
4 call-taker positions were held vacant intentionally to achieve the FY 2016 budget reduction option. This reduction was ultimately not taken.

Q3 2015
(Jan 2015)

35
35
31
4
0
Q4 2015
(March 2015)
35
30
26
4
5
Q1 2016
(July 2015)
35
28
21
7
7

Q2 2016
(Oct 2015)

35
31
28
3
4
The 4 vacant call-taker positions were held vacant to achieve the FY 2017 budget reduction option.

Q3 2016
(Jan 2016)

35
33
28
5
2
Of the 4 positions considered as a FY 2017 budget reduction, 2 are slated to be eliminated and are being held vacant.

March 2016

35
32
26
6
3
Of the 4 positions considered as a FY 2017 budget reduction, 2 are slated to be eliminated and are being held vacant.


The department has low turnover compared to other 9-1-1 centers in the region, but still has a turnover rate of approximately 7-8 FTE per year. When a new call-taker is hired, he or she needs 4-6 months of training to become certified, so there is a lag between hiring and when a call-taker can actively handle calls. Thus, actual filled positions does not equate to number of people able and certified to respond to and process calls.

Call-volume:
The date below details actual call volume data for FY 2014 and FY 2015:

Data Item
FY 2014
FY 2015
Call Growth
FY 14-15
Emergency 9-1-1
Calls for Service Received
70,508
77,367
6,859

Non-Emergency Calls Received

243,900
251,328
7,428

Total Call Volume

314,408
328,695
14,287


Call volume increased from FY 2014 to FY 2015 by 4.54%. It is not clear what element of this increase was related to the installation of new call taking IT systems, and what element was related to an actual increase in emergency call level. The Department of Emergency Communications (DEC) anticipates that redevelopment in local communities (such as Potomac Yard, Eisenhower, Pickett, and King) will further increase call volume. The implementation of new technology, such as text to 9-1-1, may continue to be a driver in increasing demand for emergency communications services. Since over 75% of calls are non-emergency calls, the City Manager has asked that DEC, the Call.Click.Connect and Communications staff review non-emergency call data and practices to see what non-emergency contacts can get routed to the City through other channels.

Other Metrics to Determine Appropriate Staffing:

Other metrics that help determine the appropriate staffing levels in a 9-1-1 center beyond call volumes are minimum staffing levels (currently 8 call-takers per 12-hour shift), leave relief factors, and required response times to maintain officer safety and certifications. While having the 2 vacant call center positions restored will be preferable, given historical staffing levels it is acceptable to function without these 2 vacant positions being budgeted. Standards and guidelines that the department adheres to include:

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1221-21: Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communication Systems. This standard specifies required response times depending on type of call, among other operational procedures.

  • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Effective Practices Guide/Project RETAINS Compiled Report. This guide helps determine what level of certified personnel is needed on the watch floor to answer and dispatch 911 calls at a response rate time that is required and acceptable to the agencies and the community served. These guidelines consider factors such as annual retention/turnover, training and certification release times, leave factors, and minimal staffing levels based on call volumes. 

  • National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Staffing Guidelines Report. This is another report that helps determine appropriate staffing levels given influencing factors.

Top