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County's 911 service goes down

August 31, 2000

County's 911 service goes down



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


A severed fiber optic cable disrupted 911 emergency dispatch service in Washington County for five hours Thursday.

As a result, people trying to reach Washington County's Emergency Services Center by dialing 911 got silence instead of a dispatcher.

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The 911 lines went down around 1:13 p.m. and 911 service was restored at 6 p.m. Thursday, said Roy Lescalleet, CAD administrator for the 911 Center.

Allegany County's 911 emergency dispatch service also was affected and long-distance service for some MCI customers was disabled, according to Verizon Communications, which operates the lines.

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The disruptions began when a garbage truck snagged a fiber-optic cable between Cumberland and Flintstone around 12:30 p.m., Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said.

The cables in the Cumberland, Md., area control select phones services, Lescalleet said.

Washington County 911 calls were affected because they are routed to Cumberland before they reach Washington County's Emergency Service Center in Hagerstown, Lescalleet said.

Washington County dispatchers typically receive at least 20 calls per hour.

After being alerted to the problem, Washington County officials put in place a backup plan, which involved notifying the public via the newspaper, radio and television, to call authorities directly instead of dialing 911.

The public was asked to place emergency calls to Hagerstown City Police, Maryland State Police and Washington County Sheriff's Department. Fire and ambulance calls were to be made to a nonemergency number.

Area police said they had no problem handling the extra calls.

Arnette said the downed wires were "major trunking cables."

Severed or downed cables are not uncommon and the Washington County 911 center has faced similar problems in the past, said Lescalleet.

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