CRESA functioning normally after widespread 911 outages

Nationwide CenturyLink outages result in inability to call 911

CLARK COUNTY — Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) is again functioning under normal conditions following widespread 911 outages last night and early this morning.

After CenturyLink phone and internet customers began experiencing outages yesterday afternoon, loss of 911 contact soon followed. The state of Washington issued an emergency alert through mobile carriers around 11:30 p.m. yesterday, with CRESA sending their emergency alert moments before.

CRESA provided an alternate phone number for emergency calls, and emergency alerts were posted on social media platforms and repeatedly sent out via mobile carriers.

Issues began to arise after that.

“People were confused about the message,” said Kris DeVore, the 911 operations division manager for CRESA. “People were confused that they had to acknowledge the message for it to stop initiating transmission.”

This is an issue that depends largely on what mobile carrier, phone type and alert settings someone has, DeVore said.

If a person does not have their emergency alerts turned on, they will not receive them; the same is true of messages like Amber Alerts.

Numbers are not yet available on how many calls were taken through the alternate phone line or how many were adversely affected by the CenturyLink outages, but CRESA confirms they were inundated with hundreds of 911 emergency calls in just an hour’s time, shortly after the initial outages, DeVore said.

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, tweeted out earlier today through the FCC’s Twitter page saying, “When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help.”

CenturyLink has responded to the situation, also via Twitter, with recent information stating, “While our network is experiencing service disruptions, where CenturyLink is the 911 service provider 911 calls are completing.”

 

 

CRESA provided additional resources for when outages like this occur, including the 311 non-emergency line and the ability to text 911 for emergencies, but DeVore made clear they do not expect further outages to be commonplace.

When they do occur, CRESA wants to provide clear information, so large influxes in calls do not occur, DeVore said.   

“We don’t want to create that additional work for ourselves,” she said. “We want to pass along information so folks don’t inundate the system. There’s room to learn and grow and change our messaging for understanding for the general population.”

DeVore said the best thing to do in the event of a 911 outage is to be patient with the automated alerts, read thoroughly for understanding and make use of all the resources at hand, including social media and calling the admin line at the 911 Center.

CenturyLink’s western headquarters was unavailable for comment at this time.

This story will be updated if and when more information becomes available.

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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