For 40 minutes Monday night, anyone attempting to reach 9-1-1 dispatchers heard just about the worse thing possible – no one picking up the phone.
Service was back and working shortly thereafter at a back-up center, but a permanent fix was still being sought as of Wednesday.
Crime Check and 9-1-1 phone lines went down about 6:40 p.m. Monday. After two backup systems also failed, operators traveled to the secondary communications site about nine miles away north of Spokane.
While it’s impossible to know how many calls didn’t get through in the 40 minutes the system was down, 9-1-1 operators reportedly receive about 30 calls an hour.
On Tuesday, Spokane County officials sent out a press release stating that phone technicians with CenturyLink had been working on the problem.
“Unfortunately, the wrong part was shipped (Tuesday), and CenturyLink is waiting for the necessary part to arrive to finish repairs (Wednesday),” stated Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, county spokeswoman. “For now, the public should be assured that 9-1-1 and Crime Check are fully staffed and are working at the backup center for emergency communications.”
The main communications center is located at 1620 N. Rebecca St. and handles all the emergency calls across the county for police and fire service of the jurisdictions therein.
There have been no reports that emergency responders were late to any possible incidents during the time of the outage.