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AI to assist 911 operators fielding repetitive stressful calls to prevent burnout amid understaffing problem
Photo by Marlon Correa/The Washington Post via Getty Images

AI to assist 911 operators fielding repetitive stressful calls to prevent burnout amid understaffing problem

Artificial intelligence technology is already being integrated within 911 emergency call centers to assist operators struggling with burnout amid an understaffing problem.

A study published by the National Emergency Number Association found that 82% of 911 call centers in the United States are understaffed, and 75% of operators reported feeling burned out.

Walden University reported that approximately 240 million emergency calls are made in the country yearly, which averages roughly 600,000 daily.

North Central Texas Emergency Communications District, which oversees 40 emergency call centers in Texas, told Fox News Digital that it is integrating artificial intelligence to assist operators and monitor mental health.

NCT911 Director Christy Williams told the outlet, "People are at the forefront of 911, and our 911 telecommunicators, the people who answer the calls, are such valuable assets, but we're putting them in a bad situation on a daily basis. They are communicating with people in the worst moments of their lives, and they are in situations that don't end well and are very traumatic."

"As a 911 telecommunicator, you might spend 45 minutes on a suicide call, hang up, and immediately that phone rings and you have to pick it up and say, ‘911 where's your emergency' and start working all over again. And over time, this can really create some severe mental health issue," Williams added.

In partnership with Amazon's subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, NCT911 is testing an AI system that will monitor operators' calls and keep track of stressful conversations.

Williams hopes the technology will flag tragic calls and alert supervisors when an operator may need to take a break. The AI system will listen for specific keywords or detect the tone of the caller's voice to detect higher levels of stress.

Williams told Fox News Digital that she believes the technology could streamline work and be a game changer for protecting the mental health of operators.

"People reach burnout or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder based on what they're faced with every day. So we are working with AWS and looking to find solutions to track calls and the telecommunicators that answer them so that … a supervisor would know that 'hey, this individual has had five bad calls today or this week,'" Williams said.

AI could also be implemented to resolve any potential language barriers. Carbyne, a software company, can automatically translate Spanish to English for 911 operators, cutting down time previously needed to transfer calls to a translator.

A report published earlier this year by Fast Company noted that AI-powered technology could also be used to analyze previously transcribed situations to provide the operator with potential responses to their current call.

Similarly, Glenview Public Safety Dispatch Center in Glenview, Illinois, rolled out a new artificial intelligence that assists with training 911 operators.

AI's ability to quickly analyze large data sets would allow emergency call centers to perform thorough quality control. Currently, most 911 call centers only review roughly 2% of conversations.

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