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Police, fire make alternate plans to keep area safe

Published 8:29pm Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Though cellular and telephone service started coming back to life late Wednesday, local emergency and medical services were already bracing for a continued communications blackout.
All local 9-1-1 calls were re-routed through Talladega, according to Alexander City Police Chief Willie G. Robinson.
Robinson said a dispatcher was sent to the Talladega office to take care of local calls.
“Any 9-1-1 calls will be linked back to us, and we are going to make sure it is taken care of,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the officers’ SouthernLinc devices and in-car radios were not affected and still operational.
Alexander City Fire Deputy Chief Gary Poe said that throughout the day, fire personnel were posted at many locations throughout the city, ready to respond.
“We had vehicles scattered throughout the city today so if anyone had a problem, hopefully they could stumble across some help,” Poe said.
The main concerns were citizens not being able to contact anyone for help, as Fire Chief Kem Jones said one of her department’s main forms of communication – SouthernLinc push-to-talk devices – had not been affected.
Russell Medical Center, too, utilizes SouthernLinc phones in such situations.
“We have a SouthernLinc phone at the hospital through grant money that the state provides, so we have been in communication with EMA, police and fire throughout the day,“ said Misty Anderson, director of education and safety at RMC.
Mike McCaleb, senior director of facilities for RMC, said the hospital started preparing for the worst when they first heard news of the celluar problems.
“When we discovered the issue, we made sure we were able to self-sustain ourselves with medical gases, diesel – anything that would require us to make a call to the outside,” McCaleb said.
McCaleb said one concern was how to get in touch with doctors once they left the hospital. Anderson said the community worked together to help solve this problem.
“The SouthernLinc vendor and fire department have been very gracious to loan us phones to help overnight, in case we have to call any medical professionals back in,” Anderson said.

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