Harris County

Harris County emergency dispatch response time for calls exceeds national average

Ninety-eight percent of the time Harris County dispatchers will pick up the phone in 10 seconds or less and be ready to help; the national average is 90%.

Harris County Sheriff's Department
Harris County emergency dispatch’s response time is above the national average.

For the last three years the Harris County emergency department has averaged 98% in service response. That means 98% of the time Harris County dispatchers will pick up the phone in 10 seconds or less and be ready to help. The national average is 90%.

In the last two weeks of August the emergency dispatch center answered more than 42,000 calls in 10 seconds or less. Harris County Sherriff's Department Lieutenant Lameka White says the faster calls are answered, the faster EMS and law enforcement can respond to those in need.

"When someone calls 911, this is one of the most critical times in their life," White said. "When you dial 911 you want someone to be at the other end of the phone call, you don’t want to have to wait and be on hold in a situation you may not know what to do."

From August 16 to August 31 the county's day shift answered 14,242 calls and maintained a service level of 98.7%. The night shift received 8,377 calls while averaging a service level of 99.7%. The evening shift experienced the highest call volume with nearly 20,000 calls in the two weeks, but the department maintained its high response average.

"It's a combination of a couple of things. First we have to give credit to those who are answering the calls. They give their very best. They are very diligent in answering the calls," White said. "Our supervisors are very observant; we have a dashboard that displays the calls that have been holding if they are holding."

Harris County's Emergency Dispatch center has 167 workers who all pitch in. White says supervisors also have dispatching experience, so they help answer calls as well. In addition, White takes a proactive scheduling approach to staffing.

"We assess if there's weather coming in, we make sure we have enough people staffed," White said. "Any type of circumstance or activity in Harris County that may result in an influx of phone calls we ensure that we have enough staff for it."

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