911 System off line - 11/26/00
JAMES CITY COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT
At 10:50 p.m. on Sunday, (11/26/00) the 911 system in James City County went off line. Central Dispatch personnel contacted Verizon Telephone Systems almost immediately to request a repair. Dispatch then notified the on duty Fire and Police Commanders of the problem. The PIO (Tal Luton) was called a few minutes past 11 p.m. The symptoms of the outage experienced by the 911 dispatches are explained as follows:
- The phone lines rang constantly in Central Dispatch; none of the indicator lights that would normally signal an incoming call would light up. Pushing the buttons on the phone system to pick up a call did nothing. All of the incoming lines into the 911 center were off line. A test was conducted from a working phone line in another office in the EOC building where the 911 center is located, when dialing 911 all the caller could hear was an unanswered ring.
District Chief’s Tal Luton and Carole Martin (911 Center Manager) as well as Deputy Fire Chief Howlett responded to the 911 center to effect a plan to notify the public of the situation.
The following actions were implemented.
- Verizon was notified to re-route James City 911 calls to the York County 911 center. This is part of a cooperative plan between York and James City that has been in effect for some time now. This procedure took almost 60 minutes to implement. The person that programs the 911 Computer Aided Dispatch System for both York and James City counties was contacted, and by 12:30 a.m. had programmed the York County System so they could input the 911 call information from James City into their computer at the York County 911 Center, and then it would display instantly on James City County 911 CAD screens. York County also was able to contact the James City County Emergency Communications Center (911 Center) using the 566-4315 number in Emergency Management.
- The County Communication Office was contacted and asked to create and place a screen on the county access channel on Cox cable that directed County citizens with emergency calls to dial 566-4315 number direct.
- An Alpha page was sent to the Tidewater Media Council Hotline to notify the video press of the situation. Channel 10 and 13 responded by placing a scroll bar that periodically was displayed at the bottom of the television screen telling the public that our 911 system was off line, and for citizens to call 566-4315. This action continued until the 911 system went back online.
- A 911 call taker was assigned to the Emergency Management Office to take calls.
- All Police Officers on patrol were notified of the situation.
- All County Fire Stations were notified of the situation, and a night watch was instituted. The Fire Department shift personnel assigned at least one person to stay awake and take any emergency calls that might come into the station either by telephone or from citizens that might drive to a fire station.
Two 911 calls came in while the system was off line prior to the rerouting of calls to York County. We were able to contact the folks that called in using the 911 printer in the back of dispatch. The 911 printer records information about each caller who dials 911 with the caller’s name, address, and return telephone number. Dispatchers monitored that printer during the outage.
A citizen did call fire station 3 direct to report a medical emergency at 125 D Lafayette Blvd. in the Longhill Road area of the County. This citizen called station 3 direct because she knows the number, and did not call or try to call 911 first. York County did receive one 911 call from an Alarm Company verifying the availability of the 911 circuit.
Verizon responded and arrived at 02:20 a.m. The 911 system was brought back online at 4 a.m., however it was 4:50 a.m. before calls could be redirected from York back to our system. According to the Verizon Tech, two fuses were blown in the phone room due to a problem with one of the consoles. The fuses were replaced, and the system restored. At this time they are still investigating why the fuses blew.
Additional information can be obtained by calling Tal Luton at my office number listed below, or by calling my personal cell phone at 757-870-6586.
We would like to thank York County and the York County Department of Fire and Life Safety for their efforts to assist us in maintaining the 911 system.