Ransomware attack may be affecting 911, emergency dispatch in Jasper Co.

A fire station in Jasper County.
A fire station in Jasper County.(WTOC)
Updated: Oct. 18, 2019 at 6:07 PM EDT
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JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Earlier this week it was confirmed Jasper County had a cyber attack on their countywide systems, including email and emergency response systems.

At that time, county officials said 911 and emergency dispatch services were not having any issues as a result of the cyberware attack. Now, that may not be the case.

Some Jasper county residents are worried their safety might be at risk.

Three weeks. That was the last time the Hardeeville fire department got a call through their dispatch application that speeds up their response time.

“September 25 was the last time we received a notification from one of our applications,” Hardeeville Fire Chief Steve Camp said.

On Tuesday, a Jasper County council chairman said 911 was not affected by the cybersecurity issues the county has been facing. The police and fire chiefs in Hardeeville say that’s not the case.

“We have noticed there have been certain calls that were not normal apparatus were sent that may cause delays in the appropriate apparatus getting sent.”

When a call is made to 911, the dispatcher would normally send the address through an application that forwards it to the responding agency. Now, with no system, dispatchers have to use their knowledge of the area or a physical map to try and send the correct response team

“Manually having to do I’m sure there’s, there’s a slight delay there so that may create a further delay as it goes down the road of the dispatch process.”

First responders say every second the county or city response teams are not responding to a call, someone’s life could be put at risk.

“To do that by hand, to take that extra time it could cost someone their life."

This is what has some people so upset. Without the computer systems, calls and data are being logged by pen and paper and transferred to a spreadsheet. As a result, some calls are not being recorded.

“We’re getting the information on paper. It’s not computerized.”

The chiefs say in the meantime, callers need to give dispatchers as much information as possible.

“Where their house is located, the color, what cars are in the driveway, it may help us get there just a little bit sooner.”

The county has told Hardeeville PD it will take another two weeks to get the system back up and the fire chief hopes they use this time as a lesson.

“Learn from this is to create a back-up plan.”

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