Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police are making a simple change that they believe will save time, and maybe lives, when 911 gets overloaded with calls, says the Charlotte Observer. Beginning Friday, 911 callers who wait more than 25 seconds for an answer will hear a recording that begins: “Please do not hang up. This is the 911 emergency line.” The goal is to cut down on hang-ups, which slow emergency response. Danny Lovett, director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Communications Division, knows some people will be put off when they learn they might dial 911 and get a recording. The message will go to fewer than 1 percent of callers — about 780 a month.
The 911 center gets about 78,000 calls a month and answers 93 percent of them in six seconds or fewer. That means they’re answered on the first ring. A dispatcher quickly determines whether the emergency is for police, fire or Medic. About 7 percent of 911 callers — roughly 5,600 a month –hang up before they get an operator. Lovett suspects callers wait between 30 and 40 seconds, which is five or six rings, before hanging up. He understands why it happens: 25 seconds can seem like an eternity in an emergency and people often think they dialed the wrong number.