Marshall County 911 Center back open after being struck by lightning

Right now, the Marshall County 911 system is back up and running, after being damaged by a lightning strike.

The lightning caused thousands of dollars in damage, but dispatchers never missed a beat while handling emergency calls during this week's storms.

Posted: Feb 21, 2019 5:25 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2019 7:49 PM

Right now, the Marshall County 911 system is back up and running, after being damaged by a lightning strike.

The lightning caused thousands of dollars in damage, but dispatchers never missed a beat while handling emergency calls during this week's storms.

Currently, the Marshall County 911 center's entire radio equipment is being fixed. This is just one of many places in the center that is being looked at after the storm damaged the very technology they use to help people in a time of need.

The director said he's just glad he was able to improvise.

"We sitting there talking and all of a sudden we heard a loud sound, and a bright light went off in the dispatch center," said Executive Director of the Marshall County 911 Center Johnny Hart.

Tuesday evening, lightning struck somewhere near the Marshall County 911 Center and Arab Fire Department. In that moment, the director was in a panic.

"My fear was that a call comes in, and we don't answer it. So, when that happened, my first thought was, 'How did it affect our equipment?'" said Hart.

The lightning took out the 911 center's radios, some computer systems and its cameras, but Hart said he and his team of dispatchers were still able to get through the night and help the people who were calling in.

"Went to the chalkboard, were taking notes, keeping up with where the people were at, making contact," said Hart.

Instead of using electronics, he said they just wrote information down using pen and paper. Now, two days later, they're almost fully operational. There have been vendors in and out since the strike, replacing everything.

People in the area say they're happy they never lost a call due to the storm.

"I wouldn't know what I'd do, because 911 is always your go-to in an emergency situation. Most people turn there, because they don't know where else to turn," said Alan Musso, who lives in Arab.

Musso says he's thankful for first responders who stay calm during a crisis.

"There's people that freak out in a situation that involves an emergency," said Musso

Johnny Hart says he hopes the center will be fully up to speed by the weekend. He couldn't give us an exact dollar figure on the damage it caused, but he did say it's in the thousands.

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