Rat causes glitch in Las vegas 911

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Thursday, September 14, 2000 Copyright ) Las Vegas Review-Journal

EMERGENCY RESPONSE NETWORK: LV police officials explain 911 glitch Dispatchers in Henderson and North Las Vegas handle calls for about 2 hours By RYAN OLIVER REVIEW-JOURNAL

A rat and a backup battery switch that failed to activate are being blamed for crippling Las Vegas police's new $12 million police dispatch center and disrupting 911 service throughout the valley Tuesday night.

Engineers from the switch's manufacturer are on their way to Las Vegas to determine what went wrong, Las Vegas police said.

Between 6:45 and 8:28 p.m., much of the valley's emergency response capabilities lay in the hands of two Las Vegas officers holed up in the North Las Vegas emergency dispatch center and operators at the Henderson Police Department.

North Las Vegas police Lt. Art Redcay said some of the 911 calls intended for the Metro-Com dispatch center were rerouted by Sprint to North Las Vegas and fielded by the two Las Vegas officers.

The officers determined the appropriate police substation or division to contact based on the type of emergency and its location. Once contacted, a dispatcher at the substation or division would then radio or call by cellular phone one of its officers to respond.

Redcay estimated the two officers handled about 10 to 20 emergency calls and 150 nonemergency calls.

"They got one call after another," he said.

An additional 500 calls were handled by Henderson emergency dispatchers, who received the diverted calls and relayed the information back to Las Vegas police.

Redcay noted it was only two weeks ago that North Las Vegas' dispatch center went down briefly, and emergency calls had to be routed through Metro-Com.

"They helped us out, and now it was our turn," he said.

Metro-Com's troubles began when a rat was electrocuted in a Nevada Power Co. substation, according to spokeswoman Sonya Headen. The rodent's death resulted in a power surge that momentarily blacked out the dispatch center, 4591 W. Russell Road, and about 800 other customers in the area.

A switch at Metro-Com failed to activate the large backup battery when the power went out, Capt. Marc Maston said.

Metro-Com's computer network subsequently shut down and had to be rebooted to even receive telephone calls, because phone lines and the network are integrated at the hi-tech dispatch center.

The backup system had been tested several times before the dispatch center went online in August and never failed, he said. The old dispatch center also had a similarly designed backup system that did not encounter problems, Maston said.

"We were really puzzled when this happened," he said.

Engineers from the device's manufacturer are expected to arrive and make repairs, he said. "They think they know what the problem is."

Maston declined to identify the company.

Technicians were preparing to activate the city's backup dispatch center at the North Las Vegas airport when service was restored to Metro-Com.

"It just happened we were able to get this center up before we got the other one online," he said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 14, 2000


Rats seem to be in the news a lot lately.:)

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 14, 2000.

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