Friday, April 04, 2014
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Lightning destroys much of Logan County 911 system

Emergency backup plans work flawlessly

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[April 04, 2014]  According to a call Thursday afternoon from Dan Fulscher, Logan County Emergency Management Agency director, the heavy storms that passed through Lincoln on Thursday morning resulted in a lightning strike that virtually destroyed the 911 communications center at the Logan County Safety Complex.

Fulscher said the EMA staff was well prepared for such an emergency and put the backup 911 system into action. Those who may be calling 911 will notice virtually no change in the response time or the services they would normally expect to receive from the agency.

Fulscher said the lightning caused considerable damage to the software at the Emergency Operations Center, but thanks to the firewall installations, the computers themselves were not destroyed.

Telephone transmissions to 911 are working with both landline phones and cellphones, but the radio communications from the 911 centers are not.

In implementing the emergency plans, a temporary command has been set up at the Lincoln Rural Fire Department. The mobile communications vehicle is being used at a location near the downtown area, and calls are being taken and transferred with Lincoln Rural equipment.

Fulscher said the EMA staff recently conducted a training for such an emergency, and the plans they had in place to serve Logan County are working very well. He said calls are being handled in a timely fashion with only a 15- to 20-second delay as information is transferred between the mobile unit and the emergency command center.

Fulscher said the damage to the 911 center and related equipment is significant. He currently has people working on the various programs, and as they dig into the issues, they are continuing to find more damage. Right now, Fulscher said he can't say for sure how long it will take to get everything repaired. It could be days or it could go into a couple of weeks.

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With the emergency backup plan in place, Fulscher said the number of staff being used has increased considerably. Currently three of the personnel are working in the mobile unit and another three to four manning the command center at Lincoln Rural. Normally there are two to three dispatchers on hand during a regular shift.

One of the biggest changes staff members are encountering is how they are recording calls. With no working software, all calls are being taken and recorded by hand. In addition, the call log, which is normally done via computer, is being done by hand.

Fuslcher said it was a bad situation for all the EMA staff, but it was being handled very well, and he's very well pleased with how the EMA and 911 personnel have transitioned into this emergency backup mode.

He concluded that for the public, 911 is still intact and working, and the community can expect the same excellent service from 911 and emergency services that they are accustomed to in Logan County.


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