MOUNT VERNON — The 9-1-1 communications equipment wiped out by a lightning strike on June 27 has been replaced, and was fully operational and online as of 7:47 a.m. Monday, according to Knox County 9-1-1/EMA Director Brian Hess.
Because of the heavy damage at the county dispatch center at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, where all county fire and EMS and KCSO calls are dispatched, all fire and EMS traffic had to be moved to the city dispatch center at the Mount Vernon Police Department for the past month and a half. KCSO dispatching remained unaffected at the county center.
“Over the past few weeks, the dispatchers assigned to the city location are to be commended for the level of efficiency they were able to maintain with the increased workload,” Hess said.
Hess called the impact on overtime cost “minimal” due to schedule changes and dispatchers volunteering to work different shifts.
“That allowed me to alleviate a lot of the mandated overtime,” Hess said.
VASU Communications worked on the repairs after the Knox County 9-1-1 Board approved the replacement and upgrade of all the damaged equipment at last month’s 9-1-1 Board meeting. Hess said the final bill has not yet been received, but the bottom line for the project should be known soon. An insurance payment, covering part of the cost, was received last week.
The old system was wired with copper according to Hess. The upgrades have made the system a fiber optic one. Fiber optic conduit is made of glass which does not conduct electricity. Hess said this should make the new equipment much less susceptible to lightning damage in the KCSO building which is grounded.