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Chesterfield resident questions 911 service after multiple unanswered calls

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WTVR) — A Chesterfield resident said they tried to report a downed power line three times Sunday, and it took several minutes before their call was answered.

According to the caller – who wished to remain anonymous – the first call went one minute before they decided to hang up. The next call went 43 seconds before they hung up again. Their third call was finally answered after a minute of ringing.

CBS 6 went to the Chesterfield call center for answers.

“What if this had been a heart attack or a fire? “How do you respond to the criticism that it took too long to answer the phone?” CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George asked Chesterfield Emergency Communications Director Richard Troshak.

“A preliminary investigation showed [Sunday] we had an unusually high call volume,” Troshak said.

“The average call volume per hour is about 70 phone calls – we had 150 phone calls [around noon Sunday] 50 of which were in a 15 minute time period,” Troshak added.

The apparent influx of activity was related to two  emergencies in heavily populated areas.

Troshak did not suggest that Sunday’s delay in answering calls was an indication that his department needs more staffing or new technology.

“We answer our 911 calls, on average, in under ten seconds,” Troshak said.

Troshak reminded callers that they should never hang up, even if the phone rings for over a minute.

“If you hang up the phone and then call back you are putting yourself in queue behind other callers,”he added.