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Friday, February 16, 2007


I woke up Wednesday morning to a lot of snow, and the state police scanner explaining to their car, on the scene of an accident, that they would have to transport an injured driver to the hospital, because the 911 center in Wellsboro could not dispatch an ambulance, due to malfunctions.
From what I was able to piece together, both the incoming 911 calls and the ability of the 911 center to dispatch fire, police and ambulance service in Potter County were down. I don't know how long this situation existed but it certainly reminded me that residents of Potter County are vulnerable, with the complex microwave system that connects us to the Tioga County 911 center in Wellsboro.
Newspapers, in the last couple of weeks, reported that portions of McKean and Potter Counties were without phone and 911 service for several hours. It reminds me of a situation, some years ago, that I tried to call 911 and found that the call was being directed to Verizon's answering service in Pittsburgh, getting only a recorded message.
As you know, when 911 was initiated in Potter County, all of the local emergency numbers were disconnected. What does one do if you call 911 and it doesn't work? Are there local numbers to reach firemen, or ambulance personnel? Are there alternate numbers to reach the 911 center by landline or cell phone? I know the county has a back up center at one of the radio towers, that can be manned when its found that the system is down, but what happens to a fire, ambulance, or police call if nobody has yet discovered the system is down?
It is obvious that we cannot expect the 911 system to be 100 percent infallable, but, residents should be supplied with alternate numbers to call the Tioga center, local police, fire, and ambulance, and procedure to follow if the 911 system is down.
Lets not wait until someone dies, to plug this gap in our homeland security!!