Get Ready for Call Center Surge - A Toolkit for Local Health Departments

Call Center Surge

User’s Guide


The goal of this toolkit is to help you develop and, or enhance existing resources and partnerships to increase call center capacity and improve the effectiveness of phone-based emergency communications with the public.


  • Learn how to handle an increase in phone calls from the public
  • Recognize the need to integrate customer service principles to call center operations
  • Develop a plan for identifying staff and staffing call center operations

This web toolkit consists of five sections that will guide you through call center planning elements, considerations for activating and operating a call center, demobilization triggers, and discuss tools and content for training your call center operators.

Each section has background information on the topic, tools and samples, as well as links to helpful resources. In some sections there are questions to guide choices and planning steps.  The five sections can be reviewed sequentially or individually by specific topic.

Planning – provides background and information to help you beginning planning.  It includes how to pull together partners and advisors, as well as how to familiarize yourself with other call center operations.  This section has numerous web links, online planning tools, and other books/publications.

Preparing – gives an overview on determining the scope of the call center and types of calls to plan for as well as how to line up staffing and surge support.  Logistical and technological details are covered with information on call routing, call menu options and interactive voice response (IVR).  Some key points to consider for developing content and messaging are also included.

Activating and Operating – provides information on setting goals and objectives for your call center, organizing and operating within incident command, calling up and scheduling staff, and supporting staff during stressful calls while maintaining good customer service.

Demobilizing and Beyond – offers suggestions on triggers or conditions for determining demobilization, communicating information on the call center closure, and conducting after-action review and improvement planning.

Workforce Training – reviews training elements and content, including an activity on how to handle difficult calls as a call center operator.