[IWAR] US 911 failure

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Sun Jan 25 1998 - 09:32:24 PST

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    911 emergency system failure in Bay Area
       Knight Ridder Newspapers
       The 911 emergency telephone system in Alameda County, Calif., and parts
       of Contra Costa County, Calif., went down for two hours around 6:30 p.m.
       Saturday night, leaving callers to the distress line with a busy signal.
       Emergency service officials hoped residents in need used the
       seven-digit, nonemergency lines that were broadcast on television and
       radio shortly after the crisis began, but didn't know whether residents
       were stranded without emergency services.
       Area hospitals reported no troubles because of the 911 outage. No
       patients arrived at emergency rooms, unable to reach police.
       But the crisis worried some officials who provide emergency services.
       ``Does it make any citizen or public safety official nervous? yeah,''
       said Stewart Gary, fire chief in Livermore and Pleasanton. ``Modern
       society depends on the 911 system. But acts of God happen to
       The problem caused by a failure of a Pacific Bell switching station in
       Orinda was fixed at 8:25 p.m., according to a phone company spokesman.
       Oakland officials said the 911 failure could have been worse.
       ``Fortunately in Oakland we didn't have any fires,'' said Don Parker,
       assistant chief of the Oakland Fire Department. ``But Saturday night is
       a kind of a busy time for us.''
       Parker said some callers with medical crises probably could not get
       ``People just have to use the old-fashioned way of getting ahold of
       emergency services, by using (area codes) 510 or 415 or whatever it
       is,'' said a California Highway Patrol dispatcher.
       Officials from several police and fire departments throughout Alameda
       and Contra Costa counties said they notified the media with alternate
       phone numbers as soon as the system failed.
       Oakland police dispatcher Carolyn Cahors said few calls came in to the
       Oakland Police Department on Saturday evening. She wasn't sure if the
       night was simply slow or if calls weren't getting through.
       ``I'm not sure if as many people are calling as normal,'' Cahors said
       around 8:45 p.m. ``We have quite a few calls standing for service. It
       just hasn't been a real wild night yet-- hopefully it won't be.''
       But Cahors and other dispatchers said they were worried that callers
       were unable to reach emergency services. Several dispatchers said some
       calls were getting through despite the 911 failure.
       ``I think there is alternative to 911 and that's the seven-digit
       number,'' said Brenda Bruner, acting supervisor for the Alameda County
       Sheriff's Department. ``I don't think we're losing any calls because of
       The Livermore Police Department had one caller indicate that her
       attempts to reach police through the 911 line were thwarted.
       ``We have not had that many problems so far, that we're aware of,'' said
       Toni Dick, the Livermore shift supervisor. ``We're just kind of a little
       part of all of this. The big part is in Oakland and Hayward.''
       In Contra Costa County, sheriff's dispatchers had trouble switching some
       911 calls to other agencies, such as the California Highway Patrol and
       the Crockett Carquinez Fire Department.
       Pacific Bell told dispatchers the problem was a breakdown in a telephone
       switching station in Orinda, said Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren
       ``As far as I know, as for people calling in, we didn't have a
       problem,'' said Dana Hunt, Contra Costa Sheriff's on-call watch
       (Staff writers Joan Morris and Greg Smiley contributed to this story.)
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