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When 911 goes down, how do we get the help we need?

MADISON COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - East Idaho had two dispatch centers down due to technical issues this week.

One was is in Madison County and the other was in Bingham County. Local News 8 wanted to learn more about the plans in place to address situations like this.

The good news is that both dispatch centers are back online and operating as they should.

Sergeant Beckley, the Madison County Dispatch supervisor, said 911 is computer-based, so if the computers go down, hiccups will occur.

"We do have a lot of redundancies that we're able to rely on," Beckley said. "If we do have like a computer outage and things like that. But I wouldn't say it happens very often, but it isn't uncommon."

He added when they experience those hiccups, it can be a little jarring.

"It can get a little uncomfortable when you're most commonly used. Tools aren't functioning the way that they are normally, but we do have those times when things go down and we do practice and prepare for that kind of thing," Sergeant Beckley said.

The preparation starts once a dispatcher is hired, as they learn how to take emergency calls based on pen and paper.

"We learn how to take handwritten calls and things like that. We also have opportunities to run kind of failsafe some backup plans. We've recently done some testing where we have isolated repeaters on our radio systems and channels and things like that. So, that if an officer or someone can't get out on their radio, they know which channel to go to, and they have backup and redundancy channels that will fall back on, in case there's any type of an outage," Sergeant Beckley said.

Sergeant Beckley said they can hop on the radio with officers and communicate with them directly. Calls can still be rerouted to nearby counties, if needed.

"We work very well in this area with our partners through southeast Idaho. We have agreements and things with neighboring agencies. So that if there were any outages or things like that, we do have our own internal, redundancies and backups and things like that. But if there were to ever get to the point where we needed a partner agency to assist us, that's something that could be very easily done," Sergeant Beckley said.

When asked if the system goes down would they still be able to give the help we need. Sergeant Beckley said "Absolutely."

"We have multiple, layers of redundancies. So we have multiple radios and repeaters and things like that. And we also have multiple internet connections and things that we can fall back on," Sergeant Beckley said.

He says if the system ever goes down and we see a post on social media, it's to show transparency with the public, but if we ever need to dial those three digits, we will always be able to get the help we need.

Article Topic Follows: Rexburg

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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