When The Lights, Go Down, In The City . . .

Posted on January 26, 2011 by - Also by this author

HAVOC CENTRAL: Extended power outages can wreak havoc on transportation companies.
It was shortly after 4 o’clock on a busy Friday afternoon when the lights flickered and then turned off. Momentarily, they came back on before failing again. This time they would remain off for the next three and a half hours.
As the office went dark, telephone conversations continued to take place as the battery back-up system provided continuous power to the phone system. The server remained up and running as did a handful of computers with their own battery back-up systems. A steady sound of beeps emitted through the office as the battery systems let us know they were working. 
Protocols were already in place for situations like this. We immediately grabbed a handheld two-way radio and announced to our employees that we were without power and operating on a single handheld radio station rather than the three consoles we use in the office. We also sent a “group text” to every employee in the company to advise them of the situation.
After more than an hour, the battery backups began beeping at a faster pace. This was an indication that they too were about to fail. At this point we rerouted incoming calls using Remote Call Forwarding to a cellular phone so that if the phone system did fail, we could still receive calls. The only problem was we could no longer access our computer system. We had no idea what was available on any given day or even who was still out in cars right now other than to ask each chauffeur to call in by radio and advise their current status and projected ending time.
Finally I received word that the power was back on and the server was back up and running and we were back in business. Or, so we thought. It seems that when the power came back on, it blew up the power supply of our phone system. Of course the part had to be ordered leaving us with just a single cell phone to answer all incoming calls.
It was one of those days that felt like “Murphy’s Limo” Service.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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