AI used to monitor 911 calls to alert operators when they may be overly traumatized

"We want the artificial intelligence to be able to tag any calls that we think might be jeopardizing the mental health of a telecommunicator."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
As 911 call centers across the nation continue to deal with understaffing, many have taken steps to ensure operators do not suffer burnout, both from the volume of calls they receive and the often traumatic subject matter they deal with on a daily basis.

One of the innovative solutions being tested is the use of artificial intelligence to monitor calls and detect when an operator has reached a point where their mental health is at risk. 

As Fox News reports, the program uses machine learning to listen for keywords typically associated with traumatic incidents and alerts an operator's supervisor when they have dealt with a certain number of potentially upsetting calls. Their supervisor would then know that they need a break, and approve one accordingly.

Among those using the technology is the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District, which oversees over 40 emergency call centers across the Dallas area.

"The people who answer the calls ... 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," Director Christy Williams told the outlet, explaining that NCT911 recently partnered with Amazon Web Services to implement the program for a trial period. 

"We want the artificial intelligence to be able to tag any calls that we think might be jeopardizing the mental health of a telecommunicator," she added. "The system would then tally how many stressful calls an operator has had by the end of their shift, or even mid-shift, and flag a supervisor if the operator needs to be taken off the floor and unwind in a quiet room."

Williams lamented the fact that beyond burnout, many operators eventually come to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. With AI helping keep tabs on their mental health, that could potentially be prevented.

According to the National Emergency Number Association, around 80 percent of 911 call centers are understaffed, with nearly three-quarters of the few employees they do have stating that they felt burnt out.
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