Outage Affects 9-1-1 Service in 8 Minnesota Counties
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | Comments

An outage on a communication provider’s network caused some disruptions to 9-1-1 services in eight Minnesota Counties January 11.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Networks (DPS-ECN) said that people in Dodge, Freeborn, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties experienced issues when attempting to call 9-1-1 between 12:56 and 8:08 p.m. January 11. Callers could speak to a dispatcher and hear the dispatcher speak, but the dispatcher could not hear the caller.

To work around this issue, public-safety answering points (PSAPs) used caller information from their display screens to contact each caller using their administrative lines. In addition, PSAPs encouraged people who needed help to use their 10-digit, 24-hour, non-emergency numbers until service was restored. Text-to-9-1-1 service was also operational at that time.

CenturyLink, now called Lumen Technologies, is the state’s 9-1-1 service provider. Representatives told the DPS-ECN that a bad card that supports a large national fiber in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was to blame for the issue and not a fiber line cut as was initially thought. Engineers rebooted the equipment, which resolved the issue and fully restored service. Lumen Technologies is still investigating and will provide a reason for outage (RFO) in three-to-five business days as required by its contract with DPS-ECN, the department said.

DPS-ECN said that no calls went unanswered and that the state’s emergency communications network was still working.

“9-1-1 is still a number Minnesotans can trust and should always be the first thing you try, but there are alternatives you can use in an emergency during a disruption,” said DPS-ECN Director Dana Wahlberg. “We encourage people to save the non-emergency numbers for PSAPs located in the counties where they live, work and frequently visit.”

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