Kansas City's 911 hold times are double national standard, getting worse

If you make an emergency call for help in Kansas City, be prepared to wait.KCTV5 News has taken a closer look ...

Posted: Feb 18, 2018 11:55 AM
Updated: Feb 18, 2018 11:55 AM

If you make an emergency call for help in Kansas City, be prepared to wait.

KCTV5 News has taken a closer look at all the records for 911 for past three years, and it's eye-opening.

Twenty-three seconds is the average amount of time people waited just to connect with a real person to say they have an emergency and help. This is for car crashes, fires and crimes where people who need medical help. The day after Christmas, someone waited more than 19 minutes just sitting on hold.

Almost every call in Kansas City gets put on hold, and you wait.

KCTV5 has done numerous reports from people who question if waiting for help became a critical tipping point for their loved ones.

"I always wondered if maybe they could have saved him, but I'll never know, and it's too late now," Teresa Tschirhart said.

"You expect 911 to help you and not be put on hold," Tony Shaw said.

Others simply shared their frustration that this isn't how 911 should work saying they expect help and not a recording.

The national standard is 90-percent of all emergency calls should be answered in 10 seconds or less. However, that's not the case in Kansas City. It hasn't been for years, and it's getting worse.

In 2015, the average hold was 14 seconds. In2016, it grew to 16 seconds. Last year's average was 23 seconds.

Wait times have more than doubled what national standards outline as acceptable.

KCTV5 has covered the real-life reaction to these wait times where people just give up and run for help or head to fire stations in a panic begging for help. We've been crunching data realizing averages can hide big problems.

Every month, KCTV5 analyzes the extreme hold times in this city, it is growing, too.

In 2015, the longest wait time, on any given day, was more than four minutes. In 2016, that number grew, and last year it crossed in the five-minute mark. However, even those averages don't fully show what can happen if you call 911 in a busy moment on a rough day.

The day after Christmas, someone sat on hold for 19 minutes and 28 seconds. The police department originally requested more than $1 million to hire 21 call takers to fix the problem. But, the new proposed budget only includes extra money for eight new positions.

KCTV5 requested data for all the other police departments in our area including Overland Park, Kansas City, KS, the Cass County Sheriff's Office and Lee's Summit. No other police department had a hold time problem like Kansas City, MO. The other departments were within national safety standards.

If you call for help, be prepared to wait and don't hang up thinking you can call back and get someone. You will just move to the back of the line.

A local citizen's group is concerned with the number of new call takers positions. They have written Gov. Eric Greitens begging for more intervention and help.

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