BPA Featured Article

How Active Call Monitoring Addresses Harvey Flooding and Other Emergencies

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC
August 31, 2017

Dealing with emergencies is always a challenge. When such situations are long-lasting, widespread, multi-faceted, and ever-changing that makes them even harder to address. This is succinctly sums up the environment emergency response teams are facing in light of Hurricane Harvey.

“We have multiple aircraft, multiple small boats, states, multiple counties, city and multiple federal resources all in the water, all in the air at the same time, and their rescues are nonstop,” U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Michael Attanasio recently told PBS.

And the situation is changing every minute, he added. For example, he said, as a helicopter or other emergency vehicle is en route, emergency services may receive a call from someone else in the area that is in urgent need of assistance.

“Say that there’s a shelter or say there’s a specific home taking water, rising floodwater,” Attanasio said. “We will immediately dispatch a helicopter, and we will try to prioritize those as best we can to the most urgent case. But as our helicopter is en route, that helicopter may then encounter another person in distress that we may not have realized was in distress, that they weren’t able to make an emergency call.”

Active call monitoring is one tool emergency service organizations can employ to help people who are able to call for help get the treatment they deserve. And it can assist emergency services in understanding where their help is most urgently needed and what they need to bring to help.

This tool is typically employed to allow for more personalized call center agent coaching. But it can also be used to identify callers who need need priority treatment – whether they are a retailer’s best customers or an emergency services caller in a dire situation.

When emergencies occur, particularly ones impacting a large number of people, this kind of solution can be especially important. Just consider that over the weekend one 911 operator alone had 250 callers on hold.

In a situation like this, it’s no surprise that there are more calls than capacity. But active call monitoring can help prioritize incoming requests.

“It just seems there’s no end in sight to the tragedies that our community is facing,” said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo, who told PBS that his department has responded to more than 60,000 calls for service and rescued more than 2,000 individuals.

MaryJane Mudd of the American Red Cross added: “It’s just growing and growing and growing…. I have lived here 25 years, and I have never seen anything like it.”

Edited by Erik Linask