When 911 Goes Down, Then What?
SAN ANGELO, TX -- In the last 30 days you’ve probably received more than one nixle from the Tom Green County Sheriff's Office or the San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) alerting the community that 911 emergency service has been interrupted.
A local number is included with the nixle that can be called for emergencies in the interim. Thursday's nixle read; "Tom Green County Sheriff: Verizon experiencing issues with 911 calls. To report an emergency outside city limits please call 325-655-8111."
Under normal conditions, SAPD receives all 911 calls and then dispatches to the appropriate department.
For example, the Sheriff’s department responds to county emergencies.
Notifications regarding interruptions of 911 can be a bit unsettling, but in fact there are procedures in place that ensure that help is available when needed.
It hasn’t been determined yet why there was an interruption of service on Thursday, but according to Mason Wheeler, 911 Billing and Geographic Information Specialist at the Concho Valley Council of Governments (CVCOG) “it’s not usual to find that a fiber optic cable cut was the cause of the disruption.”
Mason went on to say that, “each time an outage occurs, the report is ultimately referred to Verizon Headquarters in New York [supplier of the fiber optic cable] so that timeliness of repairs can be monitored at the highest level. “
Meanwhile, Mason commented there are “layers upon layers of back-up systems that ensure an emergency will be handled.”
“In fact, Mason continued, “outages happen more frequently than people are aware of it because the back-up process works so effectively. .”
For example, 911 calls from our area can be rerouted to any Service Point of Entry within 13 counties.
However, according to Tom Green County Sheriff Dave Jones, “We publicize a local administration number to call during an emergency so that we can directly collect all the information required to service that call, rather than risking information that might be lost in a transfer.”
“Our response time is much better when we take the information directly.”
If or when another outage occurs, local law enforcement agencies that are charged with the mission to Protect and Serve should be able to fulfill that commitment.