911 chairman: ‘We need to make sure that system works’

Board asks for answers on increased wait times for emergency callers
911 chairman: ‘We need to make sure that system works’
John Dejung, Dane County Public Safety Communications director

The board that oversees the Dane County 911 Center is asking for answers regarding increased wait times for emergency callers.

This comes after a News 3 investigation revealed that more than 4,100 calls over the last year took longer than 40 seconds to answer and that the center has not come close to meeting the national standard for answering 90 percent of all 911 calls within 10 seconds or less.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to direct everyone to call 911, we need to make sure that system works,” said Maple Bluff Fire Chief Josh Ripp, who is the new chairman of the 911 Center Board. “We have to make sure (calls) get answered in a reasonable and acceptable amount of time.”

Dane County 911 Center Director John Dejung presented his monthly report to the board on Wednesday without any mention of the times it has taken for 911 communicators to answer emergency calls. Ripp said Dejung’s monthly reports usually don’t include that information, but after seeing the News 3 investigation, he believes a change is necessary. He directed Dejung to appear at the board’s June meeting with figures and answers for why callers are waiting so long for help.

“The fact that the quantity of calls are that large does catch me off guard,” he said. “Somebody sitting at home watching the story was trying to figure out, ‘What’s my backup plan if I can’t call 911?’

“We need to make sure we get the confidence back in the people calling 911.”

Ripp said he was confident that immediate staffing changes would be made at the 911 Center to address some of the call wait times. A message to Dejung for specifics was not returned at the time of publication.

The 911 Center Board meets next on June 18.