New 911 Back-Up Approved

A new back-up 911 centre is coming online.

The emergency call centre has council approval and will cost $2.3-million.

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick says the recent flooding that stretched emergency services in the city shows why the redundant lines are needed.

He says the majority of calls coming into the 911 centre are actually to the non-emergency 258-6111 number.

"The flood was a perfect example of that where 90% of those calls were calls, 'What do I do? My basement's flooded. I'm in an accident.'" says Frederick. "That sort of thing."

Frederick says the current system has two non-emergency back-up lines, but that number will expand to 18 in the new call centre. He adds the call centre will only be staffed in emergency situations.

He adds the new 911 back-up isn't a reactionary measure to this week's flooding.

"Been in the hopper for actually a couple of years."

Frederick stresses the separation between the main 911 site and the back-up centre is important in emergency situations.

"A good backup site is a site that's not on the same grid as your current operation, so if hydro goes out at headquarters, we can still operate independently without any interruption," says Frederick.

"You want to have two sites that are separate from each other, so that if one goes down you can flip the switch so to speak and start operating seamlessly from the new location."

Frederick says while the back-up call centre costs a lot of money — the hope is it goes largely unused.

"Odd thing is is that you create this thing and you hope that you never need it, right? Because, that's a disaster."

Frederick points to last year's flooding event as another example of the 911 system being stressed with nearly 887 calls in a six hour period.

with files from Zander Broeckel