A top Oregon Public Utilities Commission technician said the six hour problem with Lincom earlier this week was caused by freak multiple failures of routing equipment, all based in Eugene. What failed were the devices that gather up all the 9-1-1 calls within Lincom’s service area, funnel them to one spot in Eugene, and then fire them down a data line to Lincom’s headquarters in Newport. The problem was not with Lincom; it was in what are called “OC” cards which are like big data control devices. Three of them failed nearly simultaneously which makes technicians surmise that one failed and took the other two down with it.
PUC technician Irv Emmons told NewsLincolnCounty.com that the Siletz area was out for only maybe ten or 15 minutes and then their 9-1-1 access to Lincom was restored. But the outage was three to five hours in other parts of Lincoln County although Lincom’s business lines were doubling as 9-1-1 emergency call numbers. Lincom Manager Tami Atkinson said they believe they serviced all real emergency 9-1-1 calls with the exception of one woman with a nose bleed, but she got through in another way, and she’s doing fine.
9-1-1 service to Toledo and Lincoln City was not affected by the problem.
Meanwhile Emmons said Century LInk continues working toward creating a 9-1-1 access loop that will ensure that if Newport and south county loses their system link to the valley, it’ll have connection through Lincoln City’s link via their Sheridan switch in Yamhill County and then back to the valley. The reverse would work as well. Emmons said the connection is a top priority with Century Link, but he’s not been told when that connection might be completed.
Meanwhile discussions continue between Lincoln County 9-1-1 managers and Willamette Valley Communications Center (WVCC) with an eye to having WVCC take over Lincoln County 9-1-1 dispatching for all areas except Lincoln City and Toledo. WVCC , based in Salem, already provides police and fire vehicle computer services and corresponding records management for both Toledo and Lincoln City. The motivation for Lincom to reach out to WVCC to assume dispatching services is money. Lincom has been spending down their reserves over the last two years, and by the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, 2012, Lincom will not have enough revenues to keep going, that according to Lincom Board member and Lincoln County Commissioner Don Lindly. Lindly says the Lincom Board has held out hope that a consolidated county-wide 9-1-1 dispatch system might be eventually created, but neither Lincoln City nor Toledo have showed much interest. In both cases, their dispatchers do other duties in their respective emergency services offices. And there remains, in their eyes, a very big problem with not having back-up dispatch capabilities in the event a major disaster cuts Lincoln County off from the Willamette Valley, the source of all 9-1-1 call routings. Several years ago Lincoln City was isolated for days with no 9-1-1 service following a very strong Pacific storm that blew 100 mph+ winds along the coast. City Manager David Hawker said “That memory of all the stress and chaos remains very clear in our minds. Lincoln City needs 9-1-1 redundancy.”