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News : New Bill Mandates Lifesaving Backup Systems for 911 Call Centers
Raleigh, July 15, 2014 -- Last year alone 911 centers in our state answered 6.9 million calls, many from people in serious need. But out of the state's 127 centers, only 26 have alternate plans in place in case a system failure keeps them from responding to those calls. Now, a new law just signed by the Governor aims to protect the public through a system of statewide backup plans.
When an emergency happens, a simple call to 911 may be the difference between life and death.
"I mean just one minute of not having a 911 call answered could be serious," said NC 911 Board Executive Director Richard Taylor.
Just last year, power failures, cut phone lines, natural disasters and other unexpected circumstances, caused 21 outages at call centers across the state.
"And that's when we had over 60 hours with no 911 service. Fortunately there no lives lost," Taylor said.
But there was loss of property, a scary thought that's now led to change and legislation.
"Regardless of the situation, if for any reason their call center is not able to accept a 911 call, that the 911 call that should be answered by that center will be answered by another 911 center and it will be responded to," Taylor added.
For the last decade, the call center here in Wake County has had a pretty extensive backup plan set in place. This new law will now require other centers across the state to follow suit.
"I think the public is the ultimate winner as well they should be. 911 is the gateway between the public and public safety, and anything that can be done to remove obstructions from that gateway is a positive move," said Raleigh-Wake County Emergency Communications Center Director Barry Furey.
Taylor says that North Carolina is one of, if not the first state, to sign a backup plan into law. A move the bill's sponsors say is long overdue.
"When calls were not being answered we had to have some kind of process to make sure the calls are being answered, which is why we created a backup system," said bill sponsor Davie County Senator Andrew Brock.
There are a number of avenues centers can use as a backup including a virtual plan, another physical facility, or a nearby county answering their calls. Taylor says centers will receive money to implement a backup systems from the state 911 Board.
Centers must be compliant with this system by July 1st of 2016.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014