Osage Beach 911 Looking for Solution to Call Center Problems

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OSAGE BEACH - The Osage Beach 911 center was back up and operating Friday. A system crash turned into an emergency practice exercise for the Osage Beach Police Department Wednesday. The 911-dispatch center crashed when a backup battery failed around 8 a.m. that morning.

An IT consultant was already on hand at the department conducting maintenance on another part of the system. The department prepared to take the system down and redirect calls to a mobile unit when the back up batteries failed taking the system off-line.

Osage Beach dispatchers used the Camden County Sheriff's emergency dispatch bus for the first time while the department worked to get the system running again. The Sheriff's department purchased the bus for emergency situations, like a non-working dispatch center. Dispatchers had the opportunity to practice in the bus until the system was back online Wednesday evening.

Communications Specialist Kwabena Asante said the failed system replicated what could happen if a tornado or other major event displaced the emergency center. He said practicing in the mobile unit was valuable.

"I had two dispatchers here that were working and they gained valuable experience that you could only get in a catastrophic situation," he said.

The department plans to update and replace the battery backup system. Asante said emergency funds from the department budget would cover the replacement system. It could cost around $20,000.

Asante said the system crash served as a reminder in the importance of regularly servicing equipment.

"In the end with my staff, it became more of training exercise. Nobody on the outside of this building and the people we work with and the agencies we work with knew there was a problem and that's how it supposed to be," he said.

Asante said while the dispatch system remained down for about eight hours, the department handled the event seamlessly.