Vermilion County fixing emergency equipment problems

Vermilion County fixing emergency equipment problems

DANVILLE — Vermilion County officials are fixing the equipment malfunctions that left the city and the county without 911 capabilities for a short time during the power outage caused by last weekend's storm.

Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said that when the power went out early Sunday afternoon, something failed to switch the 911 system over to the generator that runs the public safety building at 2 E. South St., Danville. The building houses the Vermilion County sheriff's department, county jail, Danville Police Department and the 911 center.

Thomason said the failure did not cause any disruption of police service out on the streets, although there were anxious moments among police officials and others handling the situation until the system was successfully switched over to a backup power generator.

Command officers with the Danville police and sheriff's department were in the call center where they were ready to relay any emergency calls to squad cars by cellphone, Thomason said. Officers were also able to communicate with each other using their cellphones.

Thomason said part of the problem was faulty relay switches.

Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said county officials had manufacturers of the generators and the switches on site earlier this week, examining the system. He said a more than 40-year-old voltage regulator was part of the issue, too, and led to parts of the jail losing power later in the day Sunday.

Hartshorn said that did not pose any serious problems with the functioning of the jail but could have if the power outage, which was mostly over by late morning Monday, had gone on longer.

Hartshorn said replacing the voltage regulator means changing other parts of the system as well, so there are a lot of decisions being made about what equipment needs to be replaced. Danville and Vermilion County share in the cost of operating the public safety building.

Thomason and Hartshorn both said that there were no emergencies when the 911 system was down. But they do not know whether there were any 911 calls that didn't go through during the outage, Hartshorn said.

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