Systems go down at Lycoming County 911 Center; staff praised for recovery efforts

A power failure resulting in system failures at the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety’s 911 Center left employees scrambling to make repairs at the beginning of the month, John Yingling, department director, reported Thursday.

The center’s uninterruptible power supply was undeniably interrupted when its batteries failed during a power outtage around 4 p.m. Aug. 6, he said.

“It came down to team effort of the county’s maintenance department, county IS (information services) and the staff of Public Safety,” Yingling said. “It was not just one individual group of people, it was a true county team effort.”

The power supply is meant to keep systems running during an outtage until the back-up generator kicks on. When its batteries failed, it “sent spikes” throughout the system, said Karl Demi, director of information services.

“The UPS (uninterruptible power supply) lost its mind,” he said. “Because of the nasty way the system went down, there was a lot of corruption to the systems.”

County officials notified the community about the system failure via social media the day it occurred, said Matt McDermott, chief of administration.

The center could receive phone calls, but the dispatch system was down for about an hour before county employees were able to get systems back online, he said. It took much longer to ensure everything was back in order — several employees worked late into that evening, Demi said.

“The next day, it failed again,” he said, adding that the incident also was rectified quickly. “We had more than 10 servers knocked out by these failures. To get that many systems back up and running in an hour and a half is amazing.”

“It took several days before we actually had everything restored — batteries replaced, modules replaced, and had a degree of confidence after load-testing,” Yingling said.

To recognize members of the information services, maintenance and public safety departments who went above and beyond to get the 911 Center back up and running, the commissioners awarded eight hours free time off from work. Demi, Yingling and Ken George, director of maintenance, were awarded Job Well Done pins.

Sandra Holdren, 911 coordinator, nominated the staff members and their department heads for the awards, stating:

“All of these people were essential to the 911 Center during this incident and I cannot even come close to thanking them enough. We all worked as a team. There were no departments, and it was pretty awesome to see.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Appointed William Henry to the county Water and Sewer Authority board to replace Michael Miller, whose term expires Dec. 31, 2021.

• Re-appointed Robert Moore to a four-year term on the county Board of Assessment Appeals with a term expiration of Dec. 31, 2021.

• Approved multiple contracts with service providers for the Juvenile Probation Office, as well as a grant agreement for $242,417 which pays about 32 percent of the salaries and benefits for juvenile probation staff.

• Approved the following personnel actions: reclassified Scott W. Konkle to fully qualified, increasing his paygrade to $34 per hour as a communications specialist and project manager for public safety, effective Sunday; hired Danielle Rohler as a full-time replacement addressing coordinator and GIS specialist at $37,642 annually, effective Sunday; hired Erika N. Young as a full-time replacement clerk III at $14 per hour, effective Sunday; reclassified Ashley J. Thurston to fully qualified at $42,836 annually as a domestic relations officer, effective Oct. 21; hired Cody L. Lepley as a full-time replacement domestic relations investigator at $22 per hour, effective Sept. 10; and hired Benjamin H. Laurenson as a part-time replacement deputy sheriff at $18 per hour, not to exceed 1,000 hours annually, effective Sept. 4.

Commissioners Jack McKernan and Tony Mussare were present, Commissioner Rick Mirabito was absent. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Executive Plaza.