Originally created 09/21/04

Phone upgrade shorted out Augusta's 911 service



An electrical short at the Augusta-Richmond County 911 Center forced officials to reroute calls from main 911 lines to administrative office lines Tuesday afternoon while they tried to upgrade the system, officials said.

Phil Wasson, director of the 911 center, said that sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m., while workers were performing an upgrade to the telephone system at the center, something shorted out causing the main 911 lines to go out of service for about 5 minutes.

Mr. Wasson said that officials ìbusied outî the main lines, causing calls to roll over to the center's administrative offices where dispatchers began to take emergency calls.

The public was still able to dial 911 and reach dispatchers, Mr. Wasson said during the mid-afternoon, although for a "short while," calls to 911 resulted an error tone and a message that the number had been disconnected.

He said later in the afternoon that the problems had been resolved, and that the error tones were generated when 911 was called from inside the center as officials performed tests while repairs were underway.Mr. Wasson said he had heard of no reports that anyone outside the center received the error tone.

"As far as we know, we haven't missed any calls," Mr. Wasson said, adding that his agency notified the Richmond County Sheriffís Office, the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department and Rural/Metro EMS of the problem.

He said five main 911 lines were restored later in the afternoon, and said that the upgrade was part of a plan to be compliant with the next generation of cellular telephones that would, depending on the phone vendor, allow dispatchers to use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to geographically locate emergency callers.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, this function, called Phase II of wireless Enhanced 911, is to be completed nationwide by the end of 2005.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.