Dallas 911 dispatchers and call takers received a big holiday gift Thursday — a big recreation and relaxation upgrade for their break areas.
It comes as a reward for a tremendous turnaround at the call center after years of serious failures.
Now there are game tables, big comfortable chairs and couches in a lounge area and all new furniture and equipment in the break room.
Call taker Jerrica Key inspected the upgraded break room Thursday.
“It’s welcoming. The tables are new. The chairs are new. Although the Christmas tree is temporary, it’s new. The popcorn stand over there is new. I like it,” she said.
It’s $35,000 worth of improvements that the city budget did not provide for but the nonprofit group “Dwell with Dignity” did.
“We are thrilled to give them this gift, a beautiful space where they can reunite, where they can have a moment of peace and dignity,” said Dwell With Dignity Executive Director Ashley Sharpe.
The list of past failures at Dallas 911 goes back years. Some have been deadly.
But now, calls are answered on average in just four seconds compared with exceptional delays last year or some calls not answered at all during busy periods.
The key is 911 operator staffing which almost doubled in the past year. From a low of 60 operators in May 2021, the current staff is 113 with several more in training.
“They truly are, just like our police officers, firefighters and paramedics, they truly are life savers,” Assistant Dallas City Manager Jon Fortune said.
Dallas 911 administrator Robert Uribe was hired from Austin two years ago to help execute improvements.
“If you don’t have enough staff, they have to take calls back to back to back. If you do that, you’re burning out the employee,” Uribe said.
Key said she joined the staff a year and a half ago.
“It definitely good to take a break every now and then. The break room there, we need it,” she said.
The new features will help keep operators fresh in their stressful job.
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