Horry County 911 plans to start messaging system next month

Horry 911 Messaging System

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Starting Nov. 1, Horry County 911 callers might hear a pre-recorded message before actually speaking with a dispatcher.

Its purpose is to let people know they’ve reached 911 and not to hang up.

The county is adding the messaging system because dispatchers are seeing a lot of callers hang up and call back when they’re not immediately answered.

Renee Hardwick, Horry County’s director of 911, said if dispatchers don’t connect with the person after they hang up, dispatchers are supposed to call them, which takes up time and resources.

“It will help us to communicate with the community," Hardwick said. "After all, everybody just wants to understand what’s happening and all, so we think it will help our department in reducing the number of callbacks we have to do and let everyone know what’s going on.”

Hardwick said Charleston County is also using this system. So far, it’s reduced abandoned calls by 50% for them.

The messaging service is also be added due to staff shortages. Hardwick said they’ve recently hired eight workers and once they’re trained, it will help with calls.

Records show about 70% of the time, a dispatcher answers calls in ten seconds or less, Hardwick added.

She said if they can achieve a 50% reduction in abandoned calls like Charleston County has with its messaging service, it will help the overworked crew.

“The pros are obviously it will reduce the workload for our already overworked folks and communicate with the citizens," she said. "The con is people are going to be getting a recording coming on the line after it rings, so many questions. We don’t like recordings, I don’t like recordings when I call businesses but I also don’t like it when I am waiting on something to happen and no one communicates with me and we are hoping people understand that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Hardwick said this system will apply to both the 911 and the non-emergency number at 843-248-1520. She added people need to remember to use 911 for true emergencies.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.