Good Planning Keeps Missoula 911 Dispatch Center Running During Tech Failure
A lot of people ridicule government for being redundant, but sometimes redundancy can be a lifesaver. On Wednesday, July 29, Missoula’s 911 dispatch center suffered a technical failure, but Office of Emergency Services Director Adriane Beck says the unexpected outage wasn’t unplanned for.
"At approximately 6:45, the 911 center experienced a catastrophic failure of a circuit that ultimately took out power to the center," Beck said. "When this outage occurred we implemented out back up plan. We have an alternate 911 center. Not to get super technical but when a call comes in to 911, they are ringing in two locations."
One of those locations is in the basement of the Missoula County Courthouse where dispatchers usually show up for work, in an emergency, like Wednesday’s incident, they will have to drive out to the Missoula International Airport where the back-up phone system is located. There’s even a plan for how to handle calls that come in while dispatchers are moving to the second location.
"At our alternate center, the difference is that nobody is there to pick up the phone," Beck said. "So when we experienced the outage here, the phone lines were still ringing at the alternate center. And so part of our back up plan is to transfer those calls to the Missoula City Police desk for the time that it takes the 911 dispatchers to get to the alternate center."
According to Beck, despite all of the transfers and difficulties on Wednesday, no 911 calls were missed.