Lack of a telephone number in a nationwide 911 data base was an error, but it showed how the Barry Central Dispatch 911 backup plan is activated to insure a call for help is delivered to the right dispatchers.
The Barry County system, as do all 911 centers, has a default position if anything goes awry. Barry’s back up is Calhoun County Dispatch.
When a homeowner in Yankee Springs Township called 911 Tuesday, Jan. 23 to report a fire, the system did not find the telephone number in the data base for Barry County. That set off the backup system, automatically switching to Calhoun County 911. Calhoun dispatchers recognized it as an Allegan County call since the Barry County homeowner has a Wayland address. Allegan dispatch immediately bounced the call to Barry County dispatchers.
It sounds complicated, but just takes seconds.
“It shows the system is resilient, it works the way it was designed to work,” said Interim Director Stephanie Lehman. “It’s literally a chain reaction. It’s a challenge; but it is not unique. When it happens, our dispatchers get a handoff from the other with all the information they have.”
Lehman said it happened in the switch over to an all-digital system. Barry County is one of the first in the State of Michigan with the system and others will face the same challenges as they adopt the latest technology.
The missing telephone number has to be entered into the nationwide data base by the carrier, Spectrum Cable, which they have done. The possibility of similar problems may exist for Spectrum Cable customers in Yankee Springs and Thornapple townships.
The cable customers and the company have been notified. “They’re aware of it. We’re working with Indigital, the digital system providers, and Spectrum Cable to prevent further problems,” Lehman said.