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Authorities: 911 switch no cause for alarm
Power interruption triggered backup plan
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Forsyth County News

A power interruption Thursday afternoon at the Forsyth County 911 Center led authorities to use a backup procedure for fielding emergency calls through Friday morning.

The Public Safety Complex, which houses the 911 center, experienced a power failure about 3:30 p.m. Thursday while strong storms swept through the area, county spokeswoman Jodi Gardner said.

“That resulted in brief, periodic brown outs,” Gardner said. “When that occurred, the county activated the procedures and plans we have in place for these types of situations.”

Incoming 911 calls were transferred to the center in neighboring Hall County, which then relayed the information back to Forsyth dispatchers through a dedicated radio channel.

Those employees worked from the mobile command center of local sheriff’s office to communicate with first responders.

Sheriff’s Capt. Tim House said employees of the agency were advised to set radios to a different channel.

“We have numerous radio backups,” House said, “and we do have contingencies in place.”

Public safety employees continued to communicate without the main system in place as county staff and vendors worked to correct the system.

Communications switched back to the primary radio on Friday, Gardner said, and the full transition to the 911 center occurred just before 11 a.m.

The exact source of the power failure has not been determined, though Gardner said the possibility of a lightning strike or power surge could have been a factor given the thunderstorms.

“We’re still evaluating the overall system,” she said. “I think we will have some components in the building that suffered damage that we’ll need to work to address, but operations are back to normal.”

The number of calls coming through during the backup system’s use was of a typical volume, Gardner said.

“There was a brief period when the system was down,” she said, “but we have not had anyone report that they were not able to get through.”