A new report from the city’s auditor general points to the need for more staff at Toronto’s 911 call center to deal with longer wait times.
The 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is the first point of contact for people calling 911 for emergency assistance from fire, ambulance and police services. It is operated by the Toronto Police.
Last year, the call center fell short of its service level standard of answering 90% of calls within 15 seconds. In fact, he achieved this goal in just 10 days last year.
The report says 13,260 callers waited in line for longer than a minute in 2021. 424 waited longer than four minutes.
Among the more than two dozen recommendations made in the report is ensuring that more staff are in place, especially during peak periods.
Between 2018 and 2021, approximately 1.8 million average annual service calls were made. The audit revealed that 57% of 911 calls were not for emergency assistance.
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Samantha Goldsilver says she found herself in a terrifying situation last month when her 13-year-old daughter suddenly collapsed while they were out shopping.
“A voice answered ’emergency 911′, and I started screaming that my daughter had just collapsed,” she recalled. “Then there were words continuing on the other side, then I realized it was a machine.”
In the end, she says, a volunteer paramedic organization in the area came to her daughter’s aid first.
“Someone I was telling this story to recently said, ‘You teach your kids, as long as they can talk, that if something happens, you call 911.’ It’s sort of cooked in the sense that it’s something you can rely on.
The auditor general’s report is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the police services board on June 22.
In a statement to Global News, the Toronto Police Service said it was “committed to continuing to work with the City of Toronto, emergency services and community partners to align with these recommendations.”
With regard to communication services, he indicated that a number of initiatives are underway to address some of the issues raised in the report. They include additional recruit classes, as well as extending the probationary period from 12 to 18 months to provide more support and training. A reflection on well-being at work is also underway.
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