LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Imagine being in an emergency situation, calling 9-1-1, and not getting an immediate answer.

This is when panic tends to set in, you hang up, and try again.

Well, the Little Rock Police 9-1-1 Center is asking for your patience to make the police response quicker.

“There are always a higher number of calls in the summer months,” said Laura Martin, Director of 9-1-1 Communication Center.

In the middle of the call center, there is a board which monitors all emergency calls.

It tracks how many active call-takers are on staff each shift, how many call-takers are busy, how many calls are waiting to be answered, and how long each call has been waiting.

“We've probably increased in a call volume by almost a half million calls,” said Martin.

In 2005, Little Rock dispatch received an average of 187,000 calls a year. Then they jumped to another 100,000 calls more, the next year, in 2006.

These numbers are not even close to today, with dispatch receiving more than 600,000 calls in 2015.

“Everybody around witnessing the incident will call 9-1-1 until they see a first responder on scene,” said Martin.
Adding to the delay, right now, dispatch is 18 members short of an ideal staff.

They are struggling mainly with employee retention.

“A lot of times our call-takers may work 12 hours shifts, where they are normally scheduled for 8 hours to make up for the deficit.

Here’s an example of what happens when you call 9-1-1, taken from the chain reaction from the initial call from the early Monday morning homicide at the E-Z Mart in west Little Rock:

The first call was at 4:09 a.m., the phone rang for 3 seconds before someone picked up.
That call lasted 1 minute and 3 seconds, then dispatchers told police, before they even began the response process.

“If it's a non-emergency, don't call 9-1-1, if a tree is down or it’s a wreck with no injuries,” said Lt. Steve McClanahan, Little Rock Police.

Dispatch recommends when you call, do not hang up if you don't get an immediate answer.

You lose your place in the wait line, and go back to the bottom.

Another thing slowing down police response time is how large the Northwest precinct is from University to the intersection of Cantrell and Chenal.

However, they are getting some help next year, as LRPD are opening up the new Panky substation near I-430 and Cantrell.

To apply to be a call-taker at the LRPD call center, click here: