LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Crisis call centers across the country are dealing with a recent influx of calls, but they are also grappling with staffing shortages. abc27 checked in with one center in Lancaster County to find out how they are balancing those challenges.

The rollout of the 988 Suicide and Crisis lifeline in July is largely driving the higher call volume, and for Lancaster County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the number one priority is answering the phones.

Taking those calls is a full time job, one Kate Marshall has been doing for 25 years.

“I came right out of college,” Marshall said.

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She has seen a lot over the last two decades, and many calls have stayed with her.

“People that I’ve talked to that we’ve kind of rescued maybe, to get them to a hospital when they needed to,” she recalled.

Lately, she has been seeing more calls.

“It seems like, that the calls come in quicker,” Marshall said.

This comes after the 988 hotline rolled out in mid-July, creating a quick and easy to remember number for people to connect with mental health resources.

“We’ve also seen an increase in adolescents calling in through 988,” director of crisis intervention services Rebecca Sangrey said.

Sangrey said the call center is seeing about 100 more calls every month. That is on top of calls to their local crisis intervention number.

“We get about 2,000 calls a month,” she said.

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Another challenge is that fewer people are available to answer. Sangrey said nearly a third of the center’s full-time positions are open. Right now, they are able to handle almost all calls.

“We in August had a 97 percent answer rate,” Sangrey said.

However, those staffing issues limit other services.

“We’d love to be able to go out and do mobile outreaches and more of that, but we have to have the staff to answer the phones,” Sangrey said.

This all comes as more people than ever are looking for resources.

“There’s a large population that we’ve really discovered since COVID,” Marshall said.

Still, Marshall said they are ready to help.

“Crisis intervention is here for people,” Marshall said. “Just to be here and just someone to talk to.”

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Sangrey said while Lancaster BHDS has a very high answer rate, if they *miss a call, it gets routed to another call center in Pennsylvania, so people can still be helped by someone in the same state.