FL: Another glitch hits 911 system in Orange

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Another glitch hits 911 system in Orange Jon Steinman

of The Sentinel Staff

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on February 09, 2000 .

Orange County's emergency operators -- the folks who answer 911 calls in unincorporated parts of Orange as well as in Edgewood, Oakland and Windermere -- were forced to use pads and pens early this week when computers went down for nearly an hour.

Such shutdowns do not affect 911 calls or slow emergency responses, officials said.

The glitch Monday was the eighth time the system has been down because of faulty software since its installation last October. The shutdowns have lasted from 15 minutes to as long as 16 hours on one occasion.

The temporary failure of the Computer Aided Dispatch system was the latest in a list of glitches at the 911 center. More critical problems occurred last fall, when some callers were getting busy signals and others were hanging up after calls weren't answered.

At the time, as few as three emergency operators were working at the 911 center. Now it is fully staffed with 13 operators.

The Sheriff's Office runs the 911 center off University Boulevard in east Orange County, answering all incoming calls. Some calls are transferred to paramedic dispatchers in the same office.

"The system was down on Monday for about 45 minutes," said Jean Moe, assistant director of communications for the Sheriff's Office. "But we reverted to a card system, which we've been using since 1971. It was a little thing. Every communications center has a backup system, and the cards worked fine. Our phones never went down. We never lost communications."

The cards are paper forms that operators fill out and give to dispatchers by hand. The CAD system was installed Oct. 28 at a cost of $4.2 million.

"I think it's a serious issue, but it's not as serious as having the 911 system down," Tom Hurlburt, county director of Public Safety, said of the temporary CAD system failure. He said the 911 system "works perfectly. But we still need to fix this."

Technicians for Tiburon, the California-based company that manufactured the system, have been working on glitches virtually since the system was installed.

Posted Feb 8 2000 11:05PM ) 2000 orlandosentinel.com link


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