ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Anchorage 911 dispatchers received an unprecedented number of calls on Tuesday, as a powerful windstorm that evening struck Southcentral Alaska and knocked out power to homes across the region.
APD spokesperson Marlene Lammers says dispatchers received 1,368 911 calls in a 24-hour period Tuesday, compared to a usual 450 to 600 calls per day -- two to three times standard call volume, and more than the department has ever seen before.
Adding in 961 more calls that came in Wednesday, residents placed a total of 2,329 calls in the 48-hour period before and after winds estimated as high as 100 mph by the National Weather Service lashed areas from the Anchorage Hillside to Seward.
Lammers praised dispatchers’ performance on Tuesday night, despite 911 calls that weren’t necessarily life-and-death emergency situations.
“The call-takers and dispatchers did an outstanding job despite the circumstances,” Lammers wrote in a Friday statement. “Some of the calls phoned in by citizens during this storm did not meet these criteria.”
Some 291 calls were placed in a half-hour period near the weather service’s forecasted midnight peak of winds from 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., shattering the previous half-hour record of 58 calls. The rest of the evening also saw high call numbers, with 236 calls from 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., 121 from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and 138 from 11:30 p.m. to midnight.
The 911 system experienced its highest average delay before a call was answered from 10:30 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, at 118 seconds. The single longest delay to answer a call -- 233 seconds -- came during the previous half-hour.
Lammers says 371 of the calls placed Tuesday were abandoned by the callers for an abandoned-call rate of 27 percent, versus an average rate of 15 percent.