MINNEAPOLIS – It is supposed to be there when you need it, but some believe the Minneapolis 911 Communication Center is not.

"People want to stand up and tell the truth," said Minneapolis dispatcher Michelle Swenson.

The Center's critics not only include its own dispatchers, but people calling for help.

"My mom just wants to know why she had to wait on the phone for my dad," said Karen Bailey.

Bailey's father, Raymond Callahan died of a heart attack earlier this month after she says her mother tried calling 911 at their north side home but no one picked up. She said it took several minutes for making contact with an operator.

Bailey along with her mother, as well as several Minneapolis 911 employees showed up at a public safety committee meeting Wednesday to hear 911 director Heather Hunt defend the call center.

"I've heard people say you cannot predict when an emergency will happen, what we do know for sure is many more emergencies happen between the hours of 9am and midnight than between midnight and 9am," she told the committee.

Hunt says they have more people answering calls during the busiest times and fewer during least busiest. She disagrees with employees who say sometimes there are only one or two operators answering calls.

"We always have a minimum of 9 people scheduled even in the wee hours of the night," she said.

But employees say that's not accurate.

"It's just not true our numbers are recorded everywhere. There is no way to fabricate our numbers. We regularly run with 8, which is five dispatchers and three operators," said Swenson.

And while the city claims the average wait time for callers is seven seconds, Karen Bailey wants to know why it took so long for her mother, but it was an answer she didn't get at Wednesday's hearing.

"They didn't show no respect to my mom," she said.

KARE 11 has requested the city to provide how many times a caller has waited 30 seconds or longer in the past month when calling 911. Despite knowing average wait times, city officials claim their computer system does not allow them to pull that kind of data.

Read or Share this story: