Code Red Notification alerts many to storm, but could they get help? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Code Red Notification alerts many to storm, but could they get help?

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Albany- Many of you got an important phone call Monday night. As a severe thunderstorm blew into Dougherty County, the Code Red system made its first warning calls.

But if you needed to call 911 to get help or report an emergency, you couldn't. The storm knocked out the 911 center. That's never happened before. Tuesday, we questioned why it failed.

Dr. Charles Gillespie said the phone call he got from Code Red was the only warning he had that severe weather was on its way toward his home.

"We can't hear the sirens out here in this area the closest siren is well over on Albertson," said Gillespie.

EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught calls the first test of the system a success.

"All 2,985 numbers were attempted of those 2,545 were contacted, 440 were not contacted and that was mostly if the phone was busy, no one ever picked up the phone, or an operator intercepted the call," said Vaught.

What failed was Albany and Dougherty County's 911 system. For the first time in 30 years, the city had what it calls a catastrophic failure, where 911 could only accept limited calls.

"We could still use our hand held radios but that was between us and public safety people not from the public calling into us," said Vaught.

Information technologists are still trying to figure out what caused the 911 center's back-ups to fail.

"We actually have a back up generator that's tested every week, we run it under full load each week, and we also have UPS's which are back up systems should we lose power within the 911 center, these work like giant batteries to be able to keep us up and running and we just had a catastrophic shutdown of that last night," said Vaught.

I.T. specialists speculate it may have been heat related along with the storm and say it's something that will be addressed to ensure there aren't problems in the future.

To receive the Code Red Alert you must sign up on the city or county's website at http://www.albany.ga.us/

After last night's storm more than 40 people registered for the alerts.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=CodeRed911Failure