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Greene County dispatch received 77 calls in eight minutes after sonic boom, nearly 100 total

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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GREENE COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - You may have heard or felt a startling boom on Monday morning, but it was not an explosion or an earthquake. It was a fighter jet breaking the sound barrier.

The Greene County Emergency Management Office confirmed a sonic boom happened around 11:40 a.m. from a Boeing test flight for the new F-15EX Strike Eagle. Many viewers as far as Branson said they felt the blast.

“After the sonic boom was heard and felt, in some cases, a lot of folks who didn’t know what it was called 911,” said Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications Department Director Kris Inman.

Inman said dispatch received 77 calls within an eight minute time frame. He said around 100 total calls came in not long after the initial blast.

”[It is] extraordinarily rare for us to get that many calls that quickly,” Inman said. “Now we’ll get, you know, 20 to 25 calls very quickly in the event of an accident in a busy intersection. But for us to get that many calls in that short time is virtually unprecedented.”

The Office of Emergency Management said there have been reports of large booms around the area for the last week or two. The office reached out to Boeing to learn more.

”The assumption even back then was that it was a sonic boom, but with no real knowledge of where it may have come from,” said Larry Woods, the Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management. “But now that we kind of have a source to trace it back to, we did reach out to them to see if we can get some additional information.”

High quantities of 911 calls like Monday can strain dispatchers.

”That is a lot of calls, and with the staff that we have, we cannot answer that many calls very quickly,” Inman said. “What we will do is certainly answer those as quickly as we can do, and follow up with any calls that we are able to answer. That’s a lot of calls and it quickly can overwhelm the best staff, best trained 911 centers.”

With the possibility of more sonic booms in the future, Inman said informing the public is a crucial step moving forward.

”I think when folks are aware of what they hear, it’s going to make a big difference,” he said.

But Inman also said he does not want to discourage people from calling 911 should they feel any uncertainty or danger.

”We want to be very, very cautious and make sure that people understand if they feel like they need a police officer or a firefighter or an ambulance, they need to call 911,” he said. “We never want to dissuade people from calling 911. The last thing that you want to do in an emergency situation is take too long to try and determine if you should call us. If you have any doubts you probably should.”

Inman said similar issues happened several years ago, but instead of a sonic boom, the loud sound came from a facility that crushed cars.

“There was an Iron Works here in town, kind of a car crushing operation,” he said. “And it would create a tremendous noise, a lot of vibration, and we got a lot of 911 calls with that. We were finally able to kind of educate people. People became aware of what it was. I think there was some cooperation with the iron marks to help mitigate it a bit as well. But that’s the key is for people to understand what it is that they’re hearing.”

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