Albuquerque 911 System Goes Down : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, June 23, 2000

911 System Goes Down

By Jeff Jones Journal Staff Writer For about ten minutes late Thursday morning, Albuquerque residents who picked up their phones and called 911 received no response. The dozens of emergency and nonemergency phones inside the city's communications center off West Central Avenue went dead about 11:45 a.m., said Albuquerque Police Department Capt. Gene Halliburton, who commands the police portion of the center. Although US West didn't get the phone lines back in operation until 1:30 p.m., Halliburton said dispatch workers quickly went to a backup plan after the lines went dead. All incoming 911 calls were transferred to Bernalillo County's dispatch center near Eubank and Paseo del Norte NE. But that process took about 10 minutes, Halliburton said. In the meantime, "we had absolutely nothing." Halliburton said to his knowledge, Thursday's 911 failure was the longest of its kind since an enhanced 911 system was implemented in the city nine years ago. "We know of no emergencies that we did not get adequate response to," he said. And no complaints about the problem had come to APD as of late Thursday afternoon. "But two or three minutes can be a lifetime when it involves emergency services," Halliburton said. "There is no perfect system. It does not exist," Halliburton added. Failures are "just going to happen. We are so reliant on technology, we forget (that) even as good as the technology is, it can still fail." Dispatchers from the county communications center took the city's police and fire calls until the phone lines started working again. The county dispatchers gave the information to city dispatchers via two-way radio. And the city dispatchers sent out fire trucks and police cars by using their computer systems, which were unaffected by the phone problem.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 23, 2000

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