Emergency communications interrupted in Lauderdale County

By  | 

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - All emergency communications in Lauderdale County fell silent for more than an hour Friday.

The communications system is critical for dispatching police officers, deputies and firefighters. E-911 Director Jared Stanley says the problem came around noon when an underground power supply was dug up by Meridian Public Works near the Training Facility on Sandflat Rd.

Officials say it happened while erosion work was being done near one of the communication towers.

Stanley says the line feeds a tower that carries emergency radio traffic from Central Dispatch to personnel.

The outage affected Meridian Police Department, the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department and the Meridian Fire Department.

“We do maintain several backup radio systems. But none of them were operational. In the meantime we do have telephones for our officers and we just telephone dispatch,” Stanley explains. “Any calls that we receive, because 911 lines were still operating, we would just get in contact with officers via phones. We dispatched them that way instead of over the radio.”

Stanley says there should have been a generator that kicked in, but it didn't happen.

“We are going to be working with our local vendor ComSouth, who maintains all of our systems here in the 911 dispatch center, to find out from them why our handheld radios didn’t work. These are things we thought didn’t rely on a repeater tower, which did fail, that we thought should not have. We will work with them on a solution where we can have some level of back-up, even if we lose a primary system like the radio tower,” Stanley says.

ComSouth provides the radio network for E-911 in Lauderdale County. Stanley says operations should be normal by Friday night.