Emily Rice Published

911 Outages Left 13 Percent Of W.Va. Residents Without Emergency Services For Up To 10 Hours

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On Wednesday, the E911 Council, the umbrella agency that operates 911 centers in the state, filed a complaint against Frontier Communications with the Public Service Commission (PSC).

According to the complaint within the past 24 months, several Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) within the state have experienced lengthy outages of 911 service.

The most recent outage was from Nov. 28 through Nov. 30 where Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Doddridge, Ritchie, Harrison, Taylor and Mingo County residents were unable to call 911 for up to 10 hours.

The Executive Director of the E911 Council, Dean Meadows, said normally during outages calls can be rerouted, but Frontier Communications failed to reroute the calls.

“Because that plan failed, that put 235,000 residents in West Virginia without the ability to call 911,” Meadows said. “So that’s 13 percent of the population for between six to 10 hours could not call 911 in an emergency situation.”

Meadows also pointed out that the outages occurred during hazardous weather conditions in northern West Virginia, endangering those traveling on the state’s interstates.

Meadows said the E911 Council filed the complaint to prevent future outages.

“What’s happened in the past few years is 911 centers have been given a false sense of security, that there’s redundancy and diversity within their centers that if there’s a fiber cut, or vandalism to to the fiber somehow that their centers will still be covered through this redundancy, but we’re finding out, unfortunately, that’s not the case, the redundancy is not there,” Meadows said.

The PSC said it cannot comment on pending investigations.