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Dispatchers Work out of Trailer after Lightning Strikes PSAP

Date: 2012-04-07
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It’s not the first time lightning has struck here, but this time, when a powerful bolt hit a radio tower at the Stewart County (TN) Sheriff's Office on April 5th, it shut down the 9-1-1 dispatch center.

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"It exploded more or less," EMA Director Clint Mathis said, in a story by Adam Ghassemi posted at Nashville’s newschannel5 website.  Mathis said despite the tower's grounding and surge protection the lightning was just too much. "When you take a direct hit that's a lot of energy to transfer. It just couldn't handle it."

The surge was so powerful it shook the building frying nearly everything electronic inside.  9-1-1 calls were forwarded to nearby Houston County, where the calls were relayed back to Stewart County via radio and cell phone. After several hours, a temporary call center for Stewart County was set up in the PSAP parking lot inside a Homeland Security trailer borrowed from Montgomery County.

Dispatch systems were working normally except for the computer-aided mapping connection to the 9-1-1 system, which would normally let them see exactly where someone is calling from.

- People, Places & Things/ (via, 4/6/12)




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