The Unwired Medic

Teaching EMS providers & other public safety pros about using mobile tech to improve their practice, patient care, continuing education, scene safety, general entertainment, & productivity.

Due to heavy call volume…


I am sitting on hold with AT&T Customer Service right now and I hear this introductory voice message that says, “Thank you for calling AT&T. Due to heavy call volume, your wait times may be longer than 10 minutes to speak to an agent.”

Stock Image courtesy of len-k-a at

So, I think to myself, 1.) If this is the case, you need more staff if you want to keep your customers happy; 2.) What if that happened to someone calling 9-1-1?

I can see it now… “Thank you for calling 9-1-1. Due to heavy call volume, you may have to wait longer than 10 minutes to speak to a 9-1-1 dispatcher.”

Of course, now I speak to the agent (AT&T) and she cannot resolve why I am calling, so she must transfer me to a specialist who has the ability to resolve my problem, and I have to hold for an unknown amount of time. Naturally, it seems like it is taking a half-hour, but really it is less than 5 minutes. Of course, this is analogous to 9-1-1. The dispatchers are quite helpful and may be able to even resolve some basic problems right on the phone, but really, they will end up “transferring the call” to the EMS crew, who can then arrive to complete resolution of the issue. To the caller, this can seem like it is taking forever, but we know that when stressed, time perception is distorted, and it is really only seconds to minutes before the ambulance arrives.

What if you really had to wait 10 minutes for a dispatcher to take your 9-1-1 call, due to heavy call volume. And what if we had to wait another unknown time period before we made contact with the field crews?


  1. You may have just changed EMS forever…”transfer the call to the crew…” brilliant!

  2. This happens to us (EMS) sometimes on MVCs or psychs or other PD required calls when we ask for an ETA our dispatcher will tell us that its crew swap and PD can’t give us an ETA.

    If that were EMS there wouldnt be an excuse. No matter what a crew would get held over to cover that call.

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