Emergency Calls Lost During 911 Outage in Washington and Oregon

By Patricia Murphy

CenturyLink officials won’t say exactly what caused a two state outage of 911 emergency service Thursday. 911 lines were restored in Washington and Oregon after separate but unrelated problems according to CenturyLink.Officials acknowledge there were 911 calls placed that did not get through.

The outage was first reported about 1:30 a.m. in Sheridan Oregon. Around the same time a 911 outage was reported in Washington according to CenturyLink’s Kerry Zimmer: “I was affected here from my landline. I did get the triple do-do-do. And I was rerouted to a difference call center and it didn’t connect. But then I did get a call back from the 911 center.”

The state patrol’s Sgt. Jason Hicks says once the outage was apparent the state’s 911 centers began to talk to one and other. Messages went out via social media and other electronic notification regarding the outage and what numbers to call. But he recognizes that not everyone got the message.

Hicks says moving forward, this is an opportunity for emergency centers to look at their response to the outage and see what worked and what didn’t.
Hicks: “We’re talking multiple 911 centers that are going to have to get together and figure out what’s the best way to handle this if we ever get a failure like this again.”

The time of the incident may have worked in their favor, but Hicks says he remains concerned because we may never know what 911 calls did not get through during the outage.

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