Saturday, July 26, 2008

Verizon-Maintained 911 Service Failures in Northern Virginia

Ben Hubbard writes in The Washington Post:

A 14-year-old boy had passed out in a Prince William County swimming pool and was sinking to the bottom of the deep end. A nearby swimmer yelled for help, and a lifeguard dived in to save him. Two people grabbed phones and called 911. Then called again. And again.

The boy was still breathing when lifeguards pulled him out of the pool, but he appeared dazed and couldn't speak, witnesses said. Several minutes had passed, but there was still no answer at the county's public safety communications center.

The county's 911 system experienced an emergency of its own, fire officials told county leaders last week. In the past two months, they said, the 911 system had four periods when service was disrupted and callers were unable to get through. The number has now grown to five with the July 11 pool incident, which fire officials said they were not aware of until it was brought to their attention.

The disruptions in service, between May 28 and July 12, occurred after Verizon, which maintains the county's 911 equipment, upgraded the system May 28, Fire Chief Kevin J. McGee told the Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday. Each disruption sprang from a different technical issue, he said. McGee could not say how long each disruption lasted, saying the problems are still being investigated.

More here.


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