The combined 911 system for emergency calls in North Platte and Lincoln County failed overnight on Sept. 14 for more than two hours, North Platte Police Chief Steve Reeves said.

Reeves said calls were handled by the 911 operators in Dawson and Buffalo counties, which is an automatic procedure of the Lincoln County system fails.

The failure occurred around 2:30 a.m., in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Power was restored around 4:40 a.m.

Reeves called it “a catastrophic power failure.” Police radios went down. Emergency responders could not be paged. The regular phone line into the office went down. Five 911 calls came in during the outage.

Reeves told the Bulletin that the UPS — the Uninterruptible Power Supply — was in fact interrupted due to a power surge. Although the surge wasn’t strong enough to trip the electrical breakers, it was enough to trigger the UPS to take over. The UPS uses batteries to supply power in the event of an electrical outage, but the UPS batteries failed.

Reeves said once he got to the building he was able to diagnose the issue and bypass the UPS so the equipment started working again.

He said the UPS is a 1998 model and he is looking for a permanent replacement from a contractor in Omaha, in consultation with Snell Services of North Platte.

“This is the second such power failure in the past six months,” he said.

In response to a question from City Councilman Ed Rieker at the council meeting Tuesday, Reeves confirmed that just one piece of equipment that failed, not the entire set of 911 equipment.

The 911 center serves police, fire, rescue and the sheriff’s office, receiving calls and dispatching officers, fire and rescue teams.

“All radio systems were inoperable in our coverage area,” Reeves said in the initial press release. “In the event of such a failure, all 911 calls are answered by Dawson County and Buffalo County Communications and no 911 calls went unanswered.”  

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