Recovery

Lewis County, Wash., 911 Center Reviews Response in Aftermath of 911 Outage

The outage was caused by a faulty network management card from a third-party equipment vendor that caused invalid traffic replication.

by The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash. / January 8, 2019

(TNS) - A 911 outage that plagued Lewis County, Wash., — and communities across the country — with spotty communication to 911 services on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 was caused by a “faulty network management card,” according to CenturyLink, the communications giant under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission for the incident.

“The outage was caused by a faulty network management card from a third-party equipment vendor that caused invalid traffic replication. … Steps are being taken to help prevent the issue from reoccurring,” reads a statement from the company.

The outage caused a frenzied situation in Lewis County, as emergency agencies requested anyone in need of emergency service contact the nonemergency line at 360-740-1105. The 911 line was fully restored the evening of Dec. 28.

Lewis County Emergency Management Director Steve Mansfield said, in the aftermath, conference calls have involved state emergency services, and they’ve talked about local and statewide responses to such unpredictable emergencies.

A local action plan went into effect when the outage struck, Mansfield said, which involved alerting as many residents as possible through the county emergency alert system — a system he encouraged everyone to sign up for on the county website.

“Sign up on this thing, because this is one of the most powerful tools we have to get hold of you during times of disaster or emergency,” he said at the time.

The situation helped to highlight some weak points that could be bettered when faced with another inevitable emergency. For instance, Mansfield said, a notice went out early reading that 911 services were back online.

“Of course we found some holes in that, and if — and when — we have another one of these, I think we’ll be able to do a better job,” he said.

Some users of the emergency system were upset by the alerts interrupting their sleep. However, Mansfield said the prospect of saving a life with the alert system negates the complaints.

“Can’t make everyone happy on these things. We can just try and do a better job next time,” he said.

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