(08/13/2001)
By Bob Weaver

"Please do not call 911 unless you really have an emergency," according to Calhoun Control Sunday night.

A tower with an attraction

Only one 911 emergency line is available at Calhoun Control, and 911 operators are requesting citizens to call ONLY for actual emergencies. They are also requesting calls NOT be placed to the non-emergency numbers at the center. Phone line access is limited, and the service situation was described as critical Sunday night.

Equipment at Calhoun's 911 Center at Mt. Zion was severely damaged Friday night when an electrical storm swept through the county. What appeared to be a direct lightning strike to the tower took out about a dozen different devices.

Miller Communications has placed some temporary radio equipment at the Mt. Zion center. Radio communications with the counties emergency services, fire departments, ambulance services and law enforcement agencies are limited. Dispatchers said the transmitter at Broomstick is down, and the Mt. Zion tower is broadcasting on a single channel EMS 155.205 frequency. The Mule Knob Tower near Minnora is broadcasting the Sheriff's 39.90 frequency, which is causing problems with coverage in northern Calhoun.

There are also problems with toning-out services, particularly with the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department. The Upper West Fork and Arnoldsburg VFD's appeared to be operational for paging services.

The electric strike destroyed much of the telephone system, both 911 and non-business lines, in addition to the 911 computer, voice recorder, computers, monitors, fax machine, TV's, VCR's and other equipment.

"About a dozen devices got hit," according to Walter

Much of the cost of damage is covered by insurance, and work is expected to continue tomorrow to get the system back to normal operation.

911 dispatcher Mike Little does not believe the old adage about lightning not striking twice in the same place. He has been on duty both times in the past three months when lightning has struck the 911 tower at the Mt. Zion center. "People are starting to stay away from me when it comes a storm," he said.


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