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County Calls for Verizon 911 Probe

By Potomac Local July 5, 2012 9:30 am

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Emergency call centers in Prince William County are working again after a disruption in 911 service following Friday’s storm.

The storm knocked out 911 and cell service for much of the day Saturday. But it’s the lack of 911 service that has Prince William County officials calling for an investigation into what went wrong.

Verizon, the company responsible for providing 911 service in the, on Sunday blamed the failure on one of it’s facilities in Arlington. But in a press release Tuesday the company states it’s hard to identify just one weakest link in the chain that led to the failure.

“Verizon recognizes the critical public safety nature of 911 services, and we regret that some customers may have been without access to 911 this past weekend,” said Verizon Vice President of Engineering Mike Daigle. “Our 911 network is designed so that there is no one single point of failure anywhere in the network that can interrupt 911 service. Unfortunately, the nature and severity of this particular storm damaged multiple Verizon facilities inside and outside of offices in the affected area, and that’s what led to the weekend’s 911 issues.”

The failures were described as catastrophic, with public officials urging those with emergencies who could not get through to 911 to flag down first responders, to go to the nearest public safety center, or directly to a hospital.

Officials said this is the second time in as many years the 911 system failed. During a snow storm last year, officials said the emergency phone system went down.

“While we appreciate the efforts Verizon made to get the system back up and running, all efforts should be made to ensure that the critical 911 system does not fail in the future,” said Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey A. Stewart. “We expect Verizon to conduct a full investigation into how the 911 service failed and offer solutions to better secure the system. It is imperative that residents of Prince William County and the entire Washington Metro area never have to face such emergencies without the critical 911 service that can be the difference between life and death for those in need.”

Stewart said he hopes other counties in the area will join with Prince William in calling for an investigation into the failure. Fairfax County officials have also called for an investigation into the 911 failure.

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