Emergency Services Put On Hold By Power Outage

June 28, 2017

By Alicia Young - Web Editor

We spend a lot of time in this space discussing power outages that occur because of rogue animals, lightning strikes and blizzards. However, the power can go out any day of the week, even if there are no curious animals poking around or massive storms brewing. All an outage needs to occur is a piece of faulty equipment, which is exactly what happened this past weekend in Hartford, CT.

According to the Hartford Courant, equipment issues led to a power outage at Hartford’s Public Safety Complex this past weekend. The outage occurred after a “perfect storm” of events that took place at about 10:30 p.m. Friday night, and it lasted until just before noon on Saturday. As a result, emergency dispatch personnel had to adopt a contingency plan for several hours, which involved relaying calls for service over radio.

Essentially, a technician from Frontier has to re-route all 911 calls to the dispatch center in East Hartford, according to Mike Bruce, the city's interim director of emergency services telecommunication. Two dispatchers were also sent to the center to handle all incoming Hartford calls. All calls were recorded by hand and then passed on through portable radios to patrol officers.

Obviously, this was not the most effective way to work which, when you’re dealing with emergency services, can mean life or death.

The real kicker is that all of this could have been avoided if the organization has appropriate power protection in place. According to the Hartford Courant, “The root of the problem was a ‘switch gear’ component in the building's electrical system. An Eversource transformer failure early Friday knocked out power to the block, causing the backup generators to turn on…Later in the day, when Eversource returned power to the area, the ‘switch gear’ was supposed to transfer power back to the municipal source from the generators. But the system didn't work, Bruce said, causing the building to run solely on backup batteries.”

Meanwhile, another system also failed because of a broken component. Therefore, the building’s backup batteries eventually failed, since they can only last for so long. As a result, the building was left in darkness and operators were left communicating crimes in an ineffective way.

All of this could have been avoided if the organization just had better power protection or an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) in place. Implementing powerful solutions, and maintaining them so that there are no broken bits, it essential to keep operations running even during an outage. This is especially important for companies where people’s lives are at stake, but can also be beneficial for average businesses that just want a little extra time to shut down their equipment properly during an outage.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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