Albany 911 Center blacked out when generator fails - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany 911 Center blacked out when generator fails

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Albany 9-1-1 calls are being answered as normal now after a hectic night at the 9-1-1 center caused by a power outage.

The center's backup generator failed, and dispatchers were left in the dark with no computers.

A Water Gas And Light underground cable at sub station three failed about 11 PM last night, plunging much of downtown Albany into darkness.  Including the courthouse, where the 12 year old 125 kilowatt generator should crank up automatically when the electricity fails.  But the generator did not operate properly, and soon the entire courthouse went dark, including the 9-1-1 center. 

Albany 9-1-1 Communications Facilitator Charlotte Floyd said "This is what the dispatchers saw. Absolutely nothing.  Screens went blank.  Lights went out.  We had absolutely no power." 

But the 9-1-1 center has a backup plan for such situations.    Using flashlights, answering calls on cell phones, and contacting first responders with portable radios.

Floyd said "So from 11 o-clock to 2 o-clock we just managed the best we could. I'd like to say our team did an excellent job in there. They stayed calm and handled just as it came to them."

During the power outage workers put their emergency plan into action and were able to answer calls and make sure emergency response wasn't disrupted.

Meanwhile facilities managers were struggling to get that generator going.  Mechanics have been working on it for weeks, and tested it thoroughly just Monday.

Dougherty County Facilities Management Department Director Dwayne Greene said "Every step that we possibly could to make sure that generator would work and the switch gear would work.  And we're still having issues with it."

They got the generator working and power back to the building by 2 AM.  Then I-T directors had to start up all the computer systems again safely...with the 9-1-1 center getting priority.

Replacing that emergency generator has been in the plans, checking out the best equipment for their needs. 

Greene said "That's kind of the reason why I am moving cautiously with it, instead of moving quickly and choosing the wrong, selecting the wrong equipment." 

A mechanical engineer to help with that selection of a new generator is being brought on board, to make sure that emergency calls are always answered, power or not.

Officials say they hope to have a new generator in place in the next 4 to 6 months.

W.G.& L. officials say between 700 to 800 customers lost electricity while they repaired that underground cable.  All had their power restored by 3 AM.

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