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Landmark survey reveals 9-1-1 profession under unprecedented stress

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The study, capturing the perspectives of administrators, supervisors, dispatchers, and call-takers, paints a sobering picture of an industry under immense pressure.

Photo via Carbyne

NEW YORK - Carbyne, the global leader in cloud-native emergency call management, in partnership with NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, today announced the groundbreaking findings of their inaugural Pulse of 9-1-1 State of the Industry Survey. This first-of-its-kind survey unveils compelling insights into the critical challenges faced by the 9-1-1 call center staff.

The study, capturing the perspectives of administrators, supervisors, dispatchers, and call-takers, paints a sobering picture of an industry under immense pressure. It reveals a seasoned, overstressed workforce grappling with surging call volumes, complex compounded emergencies, outdated technologies, and insufficient support.

Results from the survey are being presented on July 25, 2023, at a national online conference, pulling together a wide range of industry experts and government leaders to discuss possible solutions to the growing challenges of 9-1-1 emergency response.

“This is an extremely insightful report on the current state of 9-1-1,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA: The 9-1-1 Association. “I believe it will be a springboard for important discussions and, more importantly, actions to improve 9-1-1.”

Key findings from the Pulse of 9-1-1 Survey include:

  • Staffing: A staggering 82% of centers reported being understaffed and struggling with hiring and retention, with responders citing stress and low pay as the top obstacles to attracting and sustaining staff. The data also shows a growing shortfall in younger workers to replace those who are retiring or burning out early. Women are predominant in a range of roles across the industry.
  • Technology: The data shows a substantial number of respondents are unfamiliar with emerging technologies and their potential to help solve problems such as staff shortages and call surges.83% ofparticipants say their centers experience high call volumes on multiple days each week. Fewer than half can gain accurate location information from mobile callers, and fewer than 20% are able to accept video calls.
  • Mental Health and Wellness: 74% of respondents revealed that their 9-1-1 centers are plagued by staff burnout, with mental health warning signs such as anxiety, fatigue, and low energy levels. And while over 90% of 9-1-1 employers provide wellness support services, only 18% of call takers make use of them.
  • Training: Less than half of the respondents felt adequately equipped to handle any incident. Around 38% felt ill-prepared to deal with an active shooter situation, 25% felt they lacked training for mental health calls, and 18% were uncomfortable managing civil disturbances or bias-related events.
  • DEI: While a majority (56%) of respondents felt their workplaces were mostly or entirely inclusive, 42% observed a lack of diversity within their leadership ranks. A quarter of participants reported that their center’s demographics do not accurately reflect the communities they serve, and nearly 40% do not reside within the jurisdiction they serve.

“For more than 50 years, the 9-1-1 community has done a remarkable job of serving the public, answering millions of calls a year, and dispatching aid where it is needed,” Fontes said. “However, the 9-1-1 landscape is changing dramatically, and 9-1-1 centers must adapt.”

“Technology has the power to transform the 9-1-1 industry by mitigating the challenges our emergency telecommunicators face and giving them respite,” said Amir Elichai, Carbyne CEO. “It enables us to enhance emergency response, improve accuracy, and optimize workflows. By harnessing the potential of advanced call-handling platforms, we can bridge gaps in communication, provide real-time situational awareness, and deliver faster, more effective assistance to those in need. Let’s embrace technology as a powerful tool in our quest to revolutionize emergency services and ensure safer, more resilient communities.”

In May, NENA and Carbyne surveyed a random sample of Emergency Communications Center personnel across North America, receiving 841 responses from communities and ECCs of all sizes, one of the largest-ever sample sizes of its kind. The respondents included dispatchers and telecommunicators, managers and shift supervisors, Assistant Directors and Directors, as well as Deputy and Sheriff titles.

About NENA: The 9-1-1 Association

NENA: The 9-1-1 Association empowers its members and the greater 9-1-1 community to provide the best possible emergency response through standards development, training, thought leadership, outreach, and advocacy. Our vision is a public made safer by 9-1-1 services delivered by highly trained emergency-communications professionals and powered by the latest technologies. Learn more at nena.org.

About Carbyne

Carbyne, headquartered in New York, is a leading global provider of cloud-native emergency communications center solutions. Carbyne is one of the largest rich-data providers for emergency response centers, delivering over 250M data points per year, all in a unified platform. Our technologies enable emergency communication centers and select enterprises to connect with callers as well as connected devices via highly secure communication channels without needing to download a consumer app. With a mission to redefine emergency collaboration and connect the dots between people, enterprises, and governments, Carbyne provides a unified cloud-native solution that provides live actionable data that can lead to more efficient and transparent operations and ultimately save lives. With Carbyne, every person counts. Learn more at carbyne.com

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