Investigations begin into 9-1-1 outage

Federal and state officials have begun investigations into the cause of the outage that disrupted 9-1-1- emergency service on Thursday evening.

Clallam and Jefferson counties’ 9-1-1 system was back up and running Friday morning after the service was down in much of the nation, including Washington state, a regional emergency management official said.

The 9-1-1 outage was connected to a disruption in service provided by CenturyLink that was first reported at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday and that began afflicting 9-1-1 service in Washington state at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, said Karl Hatton.

Hatton is regional emergency communications director for Peninsula Communications in Clallam County and Jeffcom 9-1-1 in Jefferson County.

No further 9-1-1 problems were reported in Clallam and Jefferson counties through Friday.

“Everything is working as it’s supposed,” Hatton said early Friday evening.

About half of 9-1-1 service in the U.S. was affected by the disruption.

It also caused disruption in long distance calls in some areas.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage that began Thursday “completely unacceptable” because people who need help couldn’t use the emergency number.

“Its breadth and duration are particularly troubling,” he said.

The commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will investigate the cause and effect of the outage, he said Friday.

Regulators in Washington state also said they were opening an investigation into an outage of its statewide 9-1-1 service.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission regulatory services division director, Mark Vasconi, said the system appeared stable Friday but that the agency was monitoring it.

Hatton said 9-1-1 service on the North Olympic Peninsula was restored at 3:30 a.m., went down again at about 6:30 a.m., then was fully restored again at about 6:50 a.m.

CenturyLink tweeted at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday that “our network is experiencing a disruption affecting customer services.”

The company estimated at 9:30 p.m. Thursday that service would be restored by 1:30 a.m. Friday.

“We’re seeing positive progress with our service restoration efforts and our recovery plan is being accelerated as much as possible,” the company tweeted then.

At 7:46 a.m. Friday, CenturyLink tweeted, “We’re seeing positive progress with our service restoration efforts and our recovery plan is being accelerated as much as possible.”

The Monroe, Louisiana-based telecommunications giant is one of the largest in the United States. It offers communications and information technology services in dozens of states. Customers from New York to California reported outages.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Debra Peterson said the outage “is not related to hacking,” but she declined further comment.

In Idaho, Emergency Office Management Director Brad Richy said he didn’t receive any reports of 9-1-1 service failures, but some state agencies, including the state Department of Correction, lost service on internet-based phones.

Some businesses in Idaho also lost the ability to make credit card sales, and some ATM machines weren’t working in Idaho and Montana.

Due to sporadic 9-1-1 outages in Massachusetts, public safety officials recommended individuals looking for emergency help use the 10-digit telephone number of the fire or police departments they wanted to contact.

In Greeley, Colo., the Weld County Regional Communication Center on Friday said 9-1-1 calls were being dropped, but callers should keep trying and emergency dispatchers would try to call back.

The 9-1-1 dispatch centre and emergency management in western Missouri’s Johnson County were hit by the outage, county Emergency Management Director Troy Armstrong said Friday. He said the 9-1-1 lines were not affected, but the internet was down at the dispatch centre and phone services also were spotty.

Anyone in Clallam and Jefferson counties who calls 9-1-1 and receives a fast or busy signal or encounters difficulty getting through can text 9-1-1 and get through.

In Clallam County, they also can call 360-417-2459 and, for West End residents, 360-374-2223, Ext. 1.

In Jefferson County, call 360-344-9779, Ext. 0.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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