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ONE IN 10 CALLS UNANSWERED LACK OF DISPATCHERS GETS SOME OF BLAME.



Byline: Harrison Sheppard Staff Writer

One in 10 people who called the LAPD's 911 emergency system this year did not reach a live operator, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 figures released Wednesday by the police union.

Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  Police Protective League officials said the statistic statistic,
n a value or number that describes a series of quantitative observations or measures; a value calculated from a sample.


statistic

a numerical value calculated from a number of observations in order to summarize them.
 indicates people are hanging up out of frustration or calls are being mishandled - problems the union blames on understaffing and poor working conditions, including a 17 percent job-vacancy rate for emergency operators.

``911 is supposed to be for a life-threatening emergency,'' said union President Mitzi Grasso. ``While not all of these are life-threatening calls, those that are deserve to be able to talk to a live human being.''

But Police Department officials and other experts in emergency communications said Los Angeles' figure does not necessarily reflect a failure of the system. Instead, they said so-called ``dropped calls'' can often be due to more routine reasons such as callers who hang up because they didn't intend to dial 911 or wireless phones that lost their signal.

``We know from experience and documented surveys that a vast number of calls placed to the 911 system are from people who, for whatever reason, when they hear the phone ring once or twice, they hang up before the operator answers,'' said LAPD 1. LAPD - Link Access Procedure on the D channel.
2. LAPD - Los Angeles Police Department.
 spokesman Lt. Horace Frank. ``That counts as a dropped call Dropped call is the common term for a wireless mobile phone call that is terminated unexpectedly as a result of technical reasons. Areas where users experience a large number of dropped calls are commonly referred to as dead zones. .''

Chief Bernard C. Parks Bernard Parks (born December 7, 1943 in Beaumont, Texas) is a member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing the 8th District in South Los Angeles and former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Parks attended Los Angeles City College, received his B.S.
 said the PPL's characterization A rather long and fancy word for analyzing a system or process and measuring its "characteristics." For example, a Web characterization would yield the number of current sites on the Web, types of sites, annual growth, etc.  is inaccurate because of the large number of hang-ups.

``You have no idea what service they wanted. You have no idea whether they called back and received service,'' Parks told KCAL-TV (Channel 9).

He said completion of a second communication center in the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley

Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills.
 will fix the problem.

When people call 911, their telephone number and address automatically appear on the operator's screen. When a dropped call occurs, the operator is required to call the person back and find out whether they have a true emergency, Frank said.

The LAPD's emergency communications center An Emergency Communications Center, or ECC, is the nerve center of an area's emergency services. Resources in the field communicate, often via radio, mobile data terminal, or mobile phone, to dispatchers who then effectively manage the emergency resources for the area.  received 671,944 calls between Jan. 1 and May 30, Frank said. Of those, 60,944, or 9 percent, were dropped.

While the union said the number of dropped calls was slightly lower, it gave a rate of dropped calls that was was roughly the same - between 9 percent and 10 percent.

Grasso - whose group represents sworn officers, not civilian 911 operators - said morale among emergency operators is low and that 85 of the 500 positions are unfilled.

``It's a very high-pressure position,'' she said. ``They don't get a lot of support.''

The city is advertising for 911 emergency operators and offering to pay them $3,485 to $4,102 a month, plus an additional 5.5 percent for working at night or early-morning shifts, according to the city's Web site.

Frank acknowledged that 911 personnel have a high rate of turnover, but said it has been a decade-long and nationwide problem. The attrition rate Noun 1. attrition rate - the rate of shrinkage in size or number
rate of attrition

rate - a magnitude or frequency relative to a time unit; "they traveled at a rate of 55 miles per hour"; "the rate of change was faster than expected"


 in Los Angeles matches the national average since 1994 of 50 percent, he added.

One of the problems affecting morale is generally agreed to be the current working conditions of the operators. The current citywide dispatch center is in a windowless basement four stories below City Hall East.

The city plans to open two new dispatch centers with more advanced technology and better working conditions, but they won't open for at least two years. One will be in the Valley, the other downtown.

Other cities have a better rate of dropped calls. In Chicago, for example, the Chicago Emergency Communications Center, built in 1995, boasts of having the ``fastest call connection time in the world.''

That results in almost no dropped calls, according to center spokesman Larry Langford Larry P. Langford is the mayor-elect for the city of Birmingham, Alabama (USA). He is currently serving on the Jefferson County, Alabama Commission and previously served as commission president. .

``When you call 911 in Chicago, generally speaking, 99 percent of the time you don't hear the phone ring,'' Langford said.

The Chicago center handles about 17,500 calls a day, including about 30 percent of those from cell phones, he said.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Dispatcher Software that determines what pending tasks should be done next and assigns the available resources to accomplish it. It may execute other programs or generate a list for human operators to follow. See scheduler.  Eleanor Medina handles 911 calls at the Los Angeles dispatch center.

(2) When 911 dispatchers take a break, their chairs are empty because there are no operators to pick up their emergency calls.

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jul 19, 2001
Words:693
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