Customers of Qwest unable to make 911 callsDickinson and Belfield residents who are customers of Qwest, a telecommunications company, were not able to call 911 Monday morning, according to Qwest. They also were not able to make long distance calls.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson and Belfield residents who are customers of Qwest, a telecommunications company, were not able to call 911 Monday morning, according to Qwest. They also were not able to make long distance calls.
Kent Blickensderfer, state vice president for Qwest, said the issues started around 10 a.m. and the services were restored in just over an hour.
There were 3,157 Qwest customers affected by the loss in service, he said.
It is unclear if anyone tried to dial 911 during the hour it was unavailable. However, Brent Pringle, Stark County interim emergency manger, said he is not aware that any Qwest customers tried.
Pringle said dispatch at the Law Enforcement Center in Dickinson receives an average of 15 911 calls a day, though it fluctuates.
“When 911 doesn’t work, you can always call your local emergency numbers,” Blickensderfer said, adding customers could dial local numbers Monday.
Blickensderfer said the problem was likely caused by human error. He said what usually causes interruptions is cut cables or cut fiber optics.
“It’s pretty rare, actually that 911 goes down, but it will happen, depending on what services were affected,” Blickensderfer said. “The Qwest network is pretty reliable.”
He said when services are compromised the company can reroute their customers through other phone company’s networks. He is unsure whether this had to be done Monday.
Pringle said emergency management did not have issues with other phone companies during Qwest’s service outage.
He said Emergency Management has a plan in place in case their systems ever go down.
“In a situation like that, what we do is we get a hold of some people who can help out such as State Radio, if we can transfer all the calls to State Radio and that’s in Bismarck,” Pringle said. “In a perfect scenario we can set it up so that that calls transfer into State Radio and they can get a hold of us via radio or cell phone … and they would let us know what’s going on.”