NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Call times at the New Orleans 911 center are now meeting national standards.
"We're serious about public safety. We're serious about call answering times at 911," said city Homeland Security Director Aaron Miller.
That means they're answering 95 percent of all 911 calls within 15 seconds.
"That's important to adhere to because it provides citizens with lower insurance rates, and it also allows us to gauge our success across similar cities who use the same metric," Miller said.
The call takers were not meeting those national standards earlier this year. That's when a consolidation of 911 employees became official, essentially placing the Orleans Parish Communications District over the employees instead of the city. Twenty-four employees decided to resign, fearing they'd no longer be eligible for city retirement benefits.
"But, we made sure that every employee who came over had the same benefits that they had with the city, plus had salary increases," Miller said.
With the consolidation, the 911 employees are being cross-trained to handle any type of call, whether it's NOPD, fire or EMS related.
"So, before we had the police dispatcher and call takers, the fire dispatcher and call taker, and the EMS. While those individuals maintain strong knowledge in what their primary function is, having them cross-trained allows them to support where it's necessary," Miller said.
The 145 call takers and dispatchers working in the 911 call center are all being cross-trained.
"We have individuals who are now answering calls for multiple services and able to dispatch for multiple services," Miller said.
Miller believes it's already helping to cut down on the time it takes to answer 911 calls.
The 911 call center is still working to meet a second national standard, which says that 99 percent of all calls should be answered within 40 seconds. They hope with additional training, they can reach that goal.