911 emergency backup in Thurston County prevented lost calls during system failure

Staff writerApril 10, 2014 

Emergency workers in Thurston County activated a 911 emergency backup system soon after a statewide 911 failure about 1 a.m. Thursday, preventing a prolonged 911 interruption in Thurston County, an official said.

FILE PHOTO/STEVE BLOOM; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER — The Olympian Buy Photo

Emergency workers in Thurston County activated a 911 emergency backup system soon after a statewide 911 failure about 1 a.m. Thursday, preventing a prolonged 911 interruption in Thurston County, an official said.

"They are one of the premier dispatch centers in the region, and they are extremely quick in fixing issues like this when they come up," Lacey Deputy Fire Chief Gary Pearson said.

A Thurston County dispatcher said the emergency 911 backup system in Thurston County was up and running about 45 minutes after the statewide failure.

Not every 911 call center in the state has an emergency backup, officials said Thursday.

The statewide interruption for about 6 hours Thursday morning. The failure knocked out 911 emergency call service across Washington state.

Thurston County 911 Deputy Director Keith Flewelling said Thursday that Thurston County emergency dispatchers immediately knew there was a problem with the system around 1 a.m. Thursday, when 911 calls suddenly stopped - obviously an unusual development.

"Dispatchers are trained and prepared for emergency situations and acted appropriately," Flewelling said.

Thurston County dispatchers next communicated with 911 operators in other jurisdictions, and realized the problem was widespread, Flewelling said. Thurston County 911's director was summoned to the call center, and the emergency backup system, located at a undisclosed location, was activated, he said.

"As soon as a switch is thrown, it's active," Flewelling said.

The 911 backup system was able to forward calls to Thurston County's 911 call center, so that emergency dispatchers did not have to relocate, he said.

"That's the reason we were able to receive 911 calls throughout the outage," he added.

 

 

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; jpawloski@theolympian.com

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