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Memphis opens new state-of-the-art 911 call center

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis city leaders are proud to say 95 percent of 911 calls are now answered within 20 seconds, meeting the national standard and showing huge improvement from years past.

But now, they're also showing off a new facility they think will keep making a difference.

Memphis police respond to almost a million 911 calls every year. Those are just the calls they're dispatched to -- About 2 million 911 calls come in.

"We are the biggest. We are the busiest, and I think we have the most challenges in West Tennessee," said Director Mike Rallings with the Memphis Police Department.

In the past two years, they've gotten 911 answering times down from about a minute to eight seconds.

Now, city leaders are excited to open a new 911 call center in Memphis.

"They've done a remarkable job," said Mayor Jim Strickland.

911 calls are currently answered at 201 Poplar.

That location will stay open so they have back-up if anything happens, but this new facility on Flicker Street will become the main center.

"Most of our dispatchers are stuck here for eight to twelve hours depending on the shift," said Emergency Communications Administrator Michael Spencer.

So they've given call takers a more spacious area with technology that allows the desks and monitors to go up or down, so they can sit or stand.

The comfort levels even go to them being able to control their own air and heat right at their desks.

While the 44 call takers and dispatchers are working, they'll also be able to see real time statistics of their work.

Their monitors show how many people are waiting to answer calls, are on calls and current wait times.

"We use that every day to kind of know how we're doing up to the second," said Spencer.

Making sure the latest progress they've seen in helping save lives is just the beginning.

Workers will start moving in on Monday.

Eventually, dispatchers with the fire department will also be in the facility.

This was funded by the 911 District, which comes from 911 fees on phone bills. The project didn’t use any city funding.