Surge in calls slows emergency pickup time

Emergency and non-emergency calls to San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management are up 140 percent in the first three months of this year compared with a 2007 to 2010 average, the San Francisco Office of the Controller reported Thursday.

The report also says the number of calls is up more than 10 percent over the first three months of last year.

The volume of calls began rising in Sept. 2011, according to the report. Emergency managers are unsure what is driving the increase but they are looking for an answer because it would help emergency personnel respond appropriately, the report says.

The report said the number of calls is affecting medical response times in The City. More than 90 percent of emergency medical calls were answered within 10 seconds in 2010, before the increase in calls.

Only 77 percent of calls were answered in 10 seconds last year, according to the report.

The report says The City’s┬ácall center may be getting more repeat calls as people are waiting for an ambulance or police. Or the call center may be getting calls from more people because the number of cell phones in use is up.

Or people are getting tired of waiting and call again.

The report asked whether there are more incidents or whether the increase in calls is due to other reasons. Celeste Berg, a performance analyst with the Office of the Controller said:

“It’s an unsolved mystery.”