Firefighters watch from above when 911 lines go down

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – What happens when 911 goes down?

Dozens of Kansas counties had to learn the hard way after emergency lines went down for a couple of hours yesterday.

In Sedgwick County when the phones went down, Wichita fire crews went up.

“Overall, the majority of the firefighters, if not all of them, have never experienced anything like that,” said Battalion Chief Jose Ocadiz.

With a battalion crew roaming the ground, Battalion Chief Ocadiz said they took things to another level.

“We were basically out on fire watch above, throughout the city, covering the city for any types of columns or smoke.”

There were two crews on roofs in Wichita, one out east at the Holiday Inn and another in downtown Wichita keeping an eye on the city while phones were being restored.

“It was really for the grassfires to keep a visual on that and again that was able to add additional security and watch for any kind of house fire that could possibly come in also.”

Adjustments were also made by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office which came up with its own emergency line.

“We had a sergeant who was acting as a dispatcher to ensure that the deputies were safe still or if other folks needed to be dispatched,” said Sheriff Jeff Easter.

Though the county put out on social media the administration line that was temporarily the lifeline to dispatchers, Sheriff Easter says that system could be improved so more people can be aware.

“I could tell you I did not get anything on my phone and so I am sure that is something that the dispatch center is probably talking about if this ever happens again,” Easter said. “How would we handle this?”

Sheriff Easter said this was the longest he has seen the lines go down and adds that fortunately, they were still able to communicate through radio to one another.

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