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BPD dispatch prepared for natural disaster

FILE -- Dispatchers answer 911 calls at the Kern County communication center in Bakersfield, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2017.(KBAK/KBFX photo)

Communication is a vital part of human civilization.

Some would say it is the only aspect of life which separates us from animals.

During natural disasters that integral part of society is often stripped away, as many conventional forms of communication do not work.

Power outages make the internet obsolete.

Wind and other elements can damage cell towers.

If cell towers aren't damaged the massive number of calls to loved ones and first responders can overwhelm the circuits preventing many of the calls from going through.

Dispatch centers deal with a similar dilemma as the cell towers; too many calls and not enough lines to patch the calls through.

One of the biggest limits for the Bakersfield Police dispatch center is depending on when a natural disaster occurs, there could as few as six dispatchers manning the phones.

Even on the busiest shift there are only 12 dispatchers.

The other major hurdle is there are only so many phones at the dispatch center.

"However we do have emergency operations at the police department where we do have extra phones set up for emergencies and we can man those lines with dispatchers or officers," said Bakersfield Police Sgt. Ryan Kroeker.

But what is the plan if cell service goes down and no one in Bakersfield can make calls to dispatch?

To put it simply Kroeker said BPD "flips a switch" and sends all of those calls to other cell towers in the area in hopes that Kern County's towers are working and dispatch at the Sheriff's office can receive those calls and then dispatch Bakersfield resources.

But if cell service is down in Bakersfield how would BPD communicate with KCSO?

The answer to that is radios.

BPD has access to several radio channels which multiple agencies including KCSO and CHP can use to communicate and help each other when needed.

In fact BPD has one radio channel capable of reaching beyond Kern County and can call for help in Tulare county.

So in the event of a major disaster BPD has several back-up plans to make sure if communication fails, they can still get help to those who need it.

Back-up plans you can have in your home ready to go in case of an emergency is a topic which will be covered in Eyewitness News' "Get Ready Kern" special airing Sept. 30.

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