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911 Staffing Shortages Create Avoidable Health Crises
News, Personal Safety

911 Staffing Shortages Create Avoidable Health Crises


911 staffing shortages are nothing new.

For the past two years, dispatch centers across the country have been leaving callers on hold for several minutes and — worse yet — leaving thousands of calls unanswered.

There are various reasons for the shortages, but the stress and immense responsibility of being a 911 dispatcher are major factors. 

Not to mention, the massive waves of employees leaving their jobs in search of greater opportunities — popularly known as the “Great Resignation” — are also having an impact on the emergency response industry.

Whatever the reasons may be, this issue can have life-threatening consequences for emergency victims, as it did in these sobering true stories…


Mother Waits 5 Minutes to Get Help for Her 4-Year-Old 

In February of 2021, Maryland resident Kirsten Neumann was helping her four-year-old daughter Vivian through her cancer recovery.

Vivian was a year into remission and participating in a clinical trial to treat her specific condition. 

One day, as part of the trial, she received a shot. But the next day, she started running a fever.

Neumann gave her some Tylenol in hopes of relieving her symptoms, but tragically, things went downhill fast. 

Vivian began choking and turning blue from the lack of oxygen. Then, she started having a seizure.

Naturally, Neumann rushed to call 911, but was met with the worst response a mother in need could ask for:

“I’m sorry, we’re experiencing a high call volume. Please hold.”

Then, elevator music.

Hoping it was a fluke, she hung up and tried again, only to get the same response. 

Luckily, her babysitter was there to dial a third time while she attended to Vivian. Five minutes later, help was finally on its way.

On the way to the hospital, first responders were able to administer medicine and stop Vivian’s seizure. 

But by that time, twenty minutes had already passed.


Woman Forced to Negotiate With Intruder While on Hold With 911

One night in October of 2021, a St. Louis resident endured a terrifying situation.

Hearing someone trying to break into her home, she immediately called 911. But instead of a human on the other end, a recorded voice answered.

She was placed on hold.

Like in many other parts of the nation, emergency calls often bottleneck in St. Louis thanks to the staffing shortages, resulting in longer-than-usual wait times.

Hoping that any second a dispatcher would pick up and send help, she stayed on the phone as the intruder attempted to enter through a glass door.

But no one would pick up for several minutes.

In the meantime, she was forced to improvise and handle the situation on her own.

Luckily, the intruder seemed “out of it,” and she was able to talk him out of breaking into her home. After eight long minutes, a dispatcher finally answered her call and sent the police over.

The officers resolved the emergency quickly upon arrival, but they discovered that the intruder was carrying a knife in the process.

That being said, it’s easy to imagine that if the intruder was in a clearer mental state and the victim wasn’t able to talk her way out of it, this situation would’ve played out very differently.


The Fallout

These are just two examples of the hundreds of life-threatening health crises happening as a result of 911 staffing shortages.

Although there seems to be no coverage of any deaths in the US due to this issue, the unthinkable has already happened in Canada.

In late August 2021, a Parksville man had a medical emergency during a family gathering and fell to the floor with crippling chest pain. 

His loved ones administered first aid and called 911, but were placed on hold for a staggering thirty minutes before the ambulance arrived.

Tragically, the wait was much too long. Fifteen minutes in, the man passed away…

This crisis undoubtedly left a terrible scar on his loved ones’ lives, and our hearts go out to each and every one of them.

It’s terrifying to think that when you reach out for help in your darkest hour, your call may be answered by a recorded voice.

But the good news is, these crises are entirely avoidable…


Avoid the Worst-Case Scenario With Best-in-Class Response Times

The 911 service is constantly bogged down by too little funding, out-of-date technology, and the need to speak on the phone with every emergency victim.

In a time where operator turnover is so high, and dispatch centers are struggling to fill seats, having an emergency service you can rely on is crucial.

That’s where the Rescu app comes in.

Rescu is the future of emergency response, allowing users to dispatch first responders to their location with just two taps on their smartphone. 

No waiting for a dispatcher to answer, no recorded voices, and no need to speak on the phone at all.

This streamlined system is possible because when users set up their account, they add their physical address, relevant medical information, and emergency contacts.

When they send an alert, the app automatically notifies Rescu headquarters, which sends this information to the nearest emergency response team. The app also sends a message to all listed emergency contacts, informing them that the user is in a crisis.

Even better, with the GPS-enabled Rescu Prime service, users have the added ability to dispatch help to their exact location anywhere in the United States.

But, most importantly…

Rescu’s UL-certified private dispatch center operates completely independently of the 911 system, boasting a fully-staffed team ready to respond to emergencies twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

When you and your family trust Rescu, you’ll never have to worry about being placed on hold again.

Download today for 24/7 peace of mind in your pocket.

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