ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) — On Monday, around 3 p.m. 911 systems in 8 Southeast, Minnesota counties were down.
Dodge, Freeborn, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, and Winona Counties were impacted. A mass alert was sent out to residents in those areas.
The system issue lasted almost four hours.
“They [dispatchers] couldn’t hear the individuals. And the individuals sounded like they could hear them,” said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, “So then they re-routed their calls. Which is a common back up thing for our dispatch to do.”
He said after a while, transferred calls were not working properly either.
“So now our only option left is to do, is to go back the old fashion way of the seven digit number,” Torgerson said.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said CenturyLink is the state’s 911 service provider. “Their preliminary investigation found that a large fiber line was cut near Green Bay and it is affecting a number of telecommunication services,” said Amber Schindeldecke, the public information officer.
Torgerson said this isn’t the first time the issue has happened within Olmsted County.
“We’ve had very short outages to outages that have lasted several hours,” he said.
The Sheriff also wants people to be aware dispatchers are unable to locate where a person is, or their caller ID during the outage.
“They’re going to have to ask you, who you are, and where you are? Because when you have the normal 911, all that information flashes up,” So be aware of your surroundings. So, before you make that call, make sure you know where you are, or do your best to figure out where you are,” he said.
As emergency calls continued to come in, even when people had to dial extra numbers, public safety anticipated everyone was still helped as soon as possible.
“We just hope and pray that we don’t miss someone that really needs our help,” he said.
He also said when this problem happens the state and tech services do their best to resolve the problem.
“911 is the highest priority on their list to get these phone lines up and running. So they will drop everything to diagnose what the problem is,” Torgerson said.