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, officials said.
Phil Wasson, the center's director, said that sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m., while workers were upgrading the center's telephone system, something shorted out, causing the main 911 lines to go out of service for about five minutes.
Mr. Wasson said officials "busied out" the main lines, causing calls to roll over to the center's administrative offices, where dispatchers began to take emergency calls.
He said officials discovered the problem when all the lights near buttons on dispatchers' consoles lit up, which he said signifies a problem in the system.
Mr. Wasson said officials went to a switch to make the main 911 lines busy, then rerouted calls to the administrative lines.
He said he was not sure how long it was between the time the problem happened and when the calls were rerouted, and said there was a potential for someone to get a busy signal during that short period, though he said had not received reports of any callers who couldn't get through.
Mr. Wasson said his agency notified the Richmond County Sheriff's 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 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 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.
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