Horry County 911 change leads to dramatic drop in abandoned calls

Grand Strand

Courtesy: Horry County Fire Rescue

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Short staffed, and faced with a rising population, Horry County 911 needed to find a way to cut down on the number of abandoned calls it was having to return.

“We were inundated with abandoned calls and you know, that is a normal thing,” said Renee Hardwick, the director of Horry County 911. “People do pocket dials or misdials and just hang up.”

Some of those abandoned calls are mistakes — people either dialed the wrong number, or don’t realize until a dispatcher picks up that they called the emergency line. In other instances, people hang up because the call wasn’t immediately answered, and then call back. 

When dispatchers dial the number back, it ties up resources and prevents them from picking up another call.

To help solve the problem, Horry County 911 added a message to both its emergency and non-emergency lines telling callers to stay on the line. Within a month of being implemented in November, the number of abandoned calls dropped by 57%.

“It makes a difference altogether, because we want to be available for those true emergencies that happen,” Hardwick said. 

There were 267 hangup calls in February, making up about 3.12% of Horry County 911’s of them for service. It was the fifth-most common call for service, making it more frequent than welfare checks and traffic stops for minor traffic violations. 

Due to staffing and how many calls 911 gets, Horry County was answering about 72% calls within 10 seconds, according to minutes from a November Horry County Public Safety Committee Meeting. Horry County 911’s goal is to answer 88% within 10 seconds.

Hardwick said the new recording kicks in immediately on the non-emergency number, and that the call is usually answered before it plays on the emergency line. 

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