Power outage in Skiatook

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car2back

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The entire Town of Skiatook was without power for the last 2 hours, including the Comm center where the backup generator failed to operate correctly. We had no radio aside from 2 walkies, no 911, no OLETS or CAD; and the phone lines were over-whelmed by citizens calling to report their power out: myself and an officer took approximately 600 calls about the power. we had to reroute 911 to Collinsville & Osage County and have them transfer calls to my personal cell phone b/c of the inability to get though on the non-emergency lines. At one point, I couldn't even make a call out to notify the electrical dept on the landlines b/c the city phone circuit was overloaded. Until a generator was powered up at the Fire Dept repeater site, we were having to dispatch EMS over the Police Dept freq (155.250) b/c the mobiles in the fire trucks & medics have no ability to communicate on 154.325 around the repeater.

Power is restored, after a smoldering raccoon was removed from some apparatus at the power sub-station. Someone is here servicing the generator to figure out why it didn't work. At this point, I am more worried about intra-operability here than inter-operability.
 
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peterjmag

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Wow that is not cool at all. Sounds pretty scary! I wonder if your town is really as safe as it should be as far communications go?

P.J.
 

KD5WLX

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I have some questions - beyond the obvious "why didn't the generator start?"

1. Why are the citizens calling 911 or the PD/FD instead of calling AEP or whoever provides their power. The emergency services don't have anything to do with power delivery - all they can do is babysit a downed line if it's still hot.

2. The EC and one of the assistants for Tulsa Cty live in Skiatook, as do a number of other amateur radio operators. They can't respond in seconds (but 30 minutes is probably reasonable). Why wasn't ARES activated, and why wasn't the ham community notified?

3. Why wasn't this on the news? When 911 goes down in Tulsa, they send the fire trucks (and the hams) to the QuikTrip stores, then start broadcasting that on the radio stations. Isn't Skiatook part of the Tulsa metro?

4. What ever happened to mutual aid frequencies? I realize you can't work through the repeater if the repeater isn't there, but every radio should have at least either one simplex freq (tac/fireground/etc.) plus one simplex M/A freq. In a case like this, no one is going to care if you dispatch on the M/A freq. Nor would they care if you put a ham in each rig and dispatched on a ham repeater. It doesn't have to be a Skiatook repeater, which likely went down, too. There are several repeaters that have very good coverage into the Skiatook area that weren't affected by the power outage.
 

car2back

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All very good questions. I am planning on attending the next town council meet to see how some of the concerns are addressed.

1. the Town of Skiatook provides and services the electric in the city limits. that's a whole rant in it's self. it seems like the power goes out on average 3 times a month do to decrepit equipment and the lack of maintenance in the last 10 years. the police dept is listed as the after hours number for the electric, water, and street depts. and is responsible for dispatching them after hours.

2. as far as I know, there is no Standard Operating Procedure for activation of the Tulsa EMA EOC or RACES. I have worked there a little over 2 months and don't even know where to begin in the process or who's approval I'd need to get before hand. We even have an active member of the Tulsa Emergency Management that works for us as a police officer.

3. I know somewhere in the middle of the cluster last night, KOTV and KJRH called to ask about the power outage. I was too busy to watch the 10 O'clock news so I have no clue if it was even mentioned at all.

4. Like I said before there's no SOP for this kind of situation. I did finally get the EMS and Fire trucks to switch over to our PD side which is simplex so we could communicate until the repeater for Fire was back up. I hope to get some kind of pre-planning done this month should a situation like this occur again. Hopefully this can serve as a wake up call to those who run the town showing them that should a real disaster or emergency occur we are screwed. But then again, with the Board of Trustees track record I wouldn't be surprised if they completely ignore the whole situation.

oh, and the battery was dead on the generator. the service crew had it running before I left at 23:00, but of course the power was already restored by then.
 
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CommShrek

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KD5WLX said:
I have some questions - beyond the obvious "why didn't the generator start?"

1. Why are the citizens calling 911 or the PD/FD instead of calling AEP or whoever provides their power. The emergency services don't have anything to do with power delivery - all they can do is babysit a downed line if it's still hot.

2. The EC and one of the assistants for Tulsa Cty live in Skiatook, as do a number of other amateur radio operators. They can't respond in seconds (but 30 minutes is probably reasonable). Why wasn't ARES activated, and why wasn't the ham community notified?

3. Why wasn't this on the news? When 911 goes down in Tulsa, they send the fire trucks (and the hams) to the QuikTrip stores, then start broadcasting that on the radio stations. Isn't Skiatook part of the Tulsa metro?

4. What ever happened to mutual aid frequencies? I realize you can't work through the repeater if the repeater isn't there, but every radio should have at least either one simplex freq (tac/fireground/etc.) plus one simplex M/A freq. In a case like this, no one is going to care if you dispatch on the M/A freq. Nor would they care if you put a ham in each rig and dispatched on a ham repeater. It doesn't have to be a Skiatook repeater, which likely went down, too. There are several repeaters that have very good coverage into the Skiatook area that weren't affected by the power outage.
I'm going to throw my comments out early in the game. My answers, thoughts, and own questions to the above 4 points:

1: Because that's what sheeple do. Never underestimate the power of sheeple, especially in large numbers.

2: Better tell everyone what an "EC" is because I can guarantee you that folks that aren't HAM's aren't going to know. Also, how often does the HAM radio community interact with the City of Skiatook? Is there any policy in place or guidelines on what to do in an event like this? I suspect the answers is in the negative on both of those points.

3: The news always seems more interested in doing stories on house fires in north Tulsa than stories about life outside of Tulsa. There are a TON of things that happen every day in little towns surrounding Tulsa that go unreported. Also, that's assuming someone at the various news desks even KNEW about the situation. Have you ever talked the news desk at the various TV channels? Try it sometime if you haven't, it's a very educational experience.

4: Even in a small rural community in southern Tulsa county, the folks there know enough to program simplex freq's into the radios next to repeater freq's. I guess there is no battery backup to the repeaters either? Battery backup WITHOUT a generator or the associated costs should see a place through a 2 hour long local emergency such as outlined above.

I'll wait to see what else is posted. Good thread though, at least there is a dialogue going on here.
 

KD5WLX

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phil_smith said:
All very good questions. I am planning on attending the next town council meet to see how some of the concerns are addressed.

1. the Town of Skiatook provides and services the electric in the city limits. that's a whole rant in it's self. it seems like the power goes out on average 3 times a month do to decrepit equipment and the lack of maintenance in the last 10 years. the police dept is listed as the after hours number for the electric, water, and street depts. and is responsible for dispatching them after hours.

j: That's just WRONG. But it does answer my (and CommShrek's) question.

2. as far as I know, there is no Standard Operating Procedure for activation of the Tulsa EMA EOC or RACES. I have worked there a little over 2 months and don't even know where to begin in the process or who's approval I'd need to get before hand. We even have an active member of the Tulsa Emergency Management that works for us as a police officer.

j: I wasn't speaking of RACES - that takes an "act of God" and is unnecessary in this case. ARES, on the other hand, can be activated with a phone call to anyone in the ham radio ARES "Emergency Coordinator" hierarchy. The District EC lives down by 'Shrek, but the County EC and the Assistant EC - TAEMA liaison both live in Skiatook. All it takes is one call to them, then one call to one of them to put an announcement on any working repeater, and all the hams that are nearby and can hear that repeater are on the way. In fact, if you call TAEMA, there's a couple of hams on their staff, and they can "skip" the call to the EC and let them do it - they'll put the call on the repeater first, because they're likely to get the ARES hierarchy moving faster that way, anyway. BTW, I know that TAEMA/PD - worked with him a couple weeks ago at the Fall Century bike ride. Send me a PM if you want, and I'll get you contact info to get you and these guys together (if you haven't already).

3. I know somewhere in the middle of the cluster last night, KOTV and KJRH called to ask about the power outage. I was too busy to watch the 10 O'clock news so I have no clue if it was even mentioned at all.

j: TV isn't what I was thinking (but do them, too). TV with a crawl, and radio with a 15 second announcement every commercial break. Something to the effect of: "due to the power outage in Skiatook, 911 is down in that area. Persons needing emergency assistance should go to the nearest convenience store, or the PD or FD station. Radio operators are standing by at those locations to relay their call. In fact, if you activate ARES, the newsies are likely to pick it up anyway, since they monitor the ham freqs in their scanners.

4. Like I said before there's no SOP for this kind of situation. I did finally get the EMS and Fire trucks to switch over to our PD side which is simplex so we could communicate until the repeater for Fire was back up. I hope to get some kind of pre-planning done this month should a situation like this occur again. Hopefully this can serve as a wake up call to those who run the town showing them that should a real disaster or emergency occur we are screwed. But then again, with the Board of Trustees track record I wouldn't be surprised if they completely ignore the whole situation.

j: That sounds like an SOP/radio programming problem. Either you program alternate memories with the repeater, then the same freq but as simplex on the output, or you use some designated simplex freqs. It's possible (probably, actually) that the simplex freqs (the M/A ones, at least) are already in the radios - just that there's no SOP to go to them. Unless they're radio buffs as well, the firefighters may not know the difference until someone explains it to them - which means "now's your chance!"

oh, and the battery was dead on the generator. the service crew had it running before I left at 23:00, but of course the power was already restored by then.
j: Sure - and who does the preventive maintenance on this thing? No excuse for that for a critical comm system. The battery may be dead in MY generator, but I do this for "fun".
 

car2back

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KD5WLX said:
j: Sure - and who does the preventive maintenance on this thing? No excuse for that for a critical comm system. The battery may be dead in MY generator, but I do this for "fun".
no one I think :roll: I am gonna do my best to get things changed for the better.
 

BCFD25

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My only question: how much do you think your cell phone bill is going to be and surely the City will reimburse you? Right?
 

Medic32

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heres my question for phil. how bad was your migrane when it was all said and done?
 

CommShrek

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phil_smith said:
no one I think :roll: I am gonna do my best to get things changed for the better.
I don't want to shoot you down but I'm going to say it now: I've been in your shoes before and the problems begin when you get the idea in your head that you are going to change things.

If you really want to change things, start looking for another job now.

You're too new to your current job, you're still on probation, etc, etc. The best thing to do is lay low, collect your check, and enjoy your days off. If not, you'll soon have many more days off to enjoy. :)
 

Thayne

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I fought those problems with generators for 20 years. They had a new 100KW onan installed, and when I checked it the fuel transfer pump was powered from the grid rather than the generator, but they paid the bill anyway. They wondered why it stopped after running about 8 hours during a power failure.
Then when the budget got tight, they took me off that job and got a service contract with the same company to do it all. That lasted 3 years and then they noticed it was costing more than I did even with benefits.
They asked me do take it over again but by then I realized it was easier doing fire alarms and networking than working on generators so it told them no. They threatened to can me but didn't because I was doing such a good job on the fire alarms. Working for the man sucks :)
 

car2back

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BCFD25 said:
My only question: how much do you think your cell phone bill is going to be and surely the City will reimburse you? Right?
I had maybe 5 calls on it that were work related at the time, and I don't really care to rock the boat about that. I am just glad I had it or we would have really been screwed!


Duston, lets just say I wished I was 21 years of age when I got home :lol:

Shrek, you're right about being a noob, I am gonna have to be passive with my suggestions, but atleast I have a supervisor that respects and acknowledges the fact I do have a little bit to offer when it comes to emergency communications and listens to my input. In the mean time, I am headed in tonight for a little OT on my day off so lets all keep our fingers crossed that the power stays on :D
 
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