Forsyth County officials applauded staff efforts to work through a recent outage of the main 911 system.
During a Monday meeting, members of the E-911 Advisory Board reviewed the response to a power failure Thursday at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex that caused a several-hour outage of the main emergency calling system.
Pat Giordano, E-911 director, said the center responded to the outage by transferring incoming calls to neighboring Hall County, as is done periodically as a test.
“We sent three dispatchers to Hall,” Giordano said. “They sat tethered with the Hall County dispatchers and when the calls came in … one of our people radioed in from Hall County on a dedicated channel we have on their system back to us at the mobile command center. It works quite well.”
Though the contingency plan had been tested, Thursday’s outage was the first time staff went through the process out of necessity.
Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside Hospital-Forsyth, was pleased to hear that a seamless transition to the backup plan took place.
“It certainly should make the community rest better at night to know that these things that we all plan and have in place actually work,” Jackson said.
Commissioner Brain Tam emphasized the importance of the sheriff’s mobile command center in communications during the response.
The refurbished vehicle was purchased in 2010 with drug seizure funds.
The mobile center provided a backup method for 911 communications, but the group discussed keeping many emergency options open, including ham radio and multi-agency or jurisdiction channels.
Giordano said a potential building to house sheriff’s operations has a place marked for a full 911 backup, which wouldn’t require transferring calls to Hall.
She also updated the group on a previous issue with sending out alert tones to firefighters, which had been locking up the radio.
Fire Division Chief Kevin Wallace said the county worked with service provider Motorola to eliminate the need for an older radio required to separately send tones to portable radios.
“What used to take about two, two-and-a-half minutes to get a call out now takes about three seconds,” Wallace said. “So it’s a huge, huge improvement.”