Metro 911 dispatchers push technology and patience to combat overloading

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The sound of gunshots outside Bar Louie in the Gulch made customers run frantically calling for help. However, witnesses told News 2 that they had difficulty connecting to 911 dispatchers.

“It didn’t go through,” said Tim Davis, who was at the restaurant when the shooting occurred. “We had bars. We had wifi. All that.”

News 2 inquired and found that an increase in 911 calls forced the dispatch phone lines to back up.

“We do this a lot,” said Stephen Martini, director of the Metro Emergency Communications Center. “That probably happens several times – three, four, five times a week in Metro Nashville.”

Martini says 911 call volume increased four times the average after the Bar Louie shooting. Almost 50 calls were made within three and a half minutes.

“Some of the people who called had information about the patient and the suspects involved,” Martini said. “Some people were in the area hearing the gunshots and calling. And others called, the doorbell rang a couple of times and they broke up, and we had to call these people back. “

According to the ECC guideline, dispatchers must return disconnected calls or callers who hang up. Martini says Friday night was spent at least five to six minutes calling people back.

“If someone calls and rings five or ten times and is disconnected before speaking to anyone, all of our callers will be notified that the call was made,” Martini said.

Fortunately, the congestion of phone calls didn’t delay response time in an emergency. Martini says the emergency services were dispatched after 53 seconds of the call.

Martini advises callers to call 911, even if the answer takes a little longer.

“Let the phone ring because you will be answered,” Martini said.

The department is now exploring technologies like geofencing, which can filter calls from the same location, preventing delays for other callers who need help.

“If another call comes in ten miles away, the system says that that call is probably not connected to these others. It prioritizes that call higher in the queue, ”Martini said.

The department also offers the HubNashville app, which enables people to report non-emerging crimes, take photos, and submit. These reports go directly to the dispatchers and are monitored around the clock. You can download the app to your smartphone from the App Store.

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