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Computer glitch interrupts 911 service

December 23, 1998

A software glitch Monday morning briefly interrupted 911 service in Washington County beginning around 8 a.m.

"We didn't know there was a problem until a woman called on our seven-digit number and said she had gotten a busy signal when she dialed 911," said Ron Karn, chief of Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications.

Karn said 911 calls are normally routed through Cumberland and when there is trouble, they are automatically rerouted through Keyser, W.Va.

That automatic reroute didn't happen Monday, Karn said.

"We notified Bell Atlantic and they began physically rerouting calls through Keyser," Karn said.

Bell Atlantic spokesman Sandra Arnette said Tuesday the system was being worked on Monday and the company expected that 911 calls in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties would be affected.

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"We were expecting the automatic transfer of the 911 calls through Keyser - we weren't expecting that to fail," Arnette said.

Once alerted, Bell Atlantic operators began picking up all the 911 calls, averting delays in emergency responses.

"We were never completely down," Karn said of the hour-long disruption. "Right in the middle of this, a call came through on the regular 911 channels."

Marlo Barnhart

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