911 out for 3 hours in state’s southern half
Marion County 911 administrator Linda Klenda and her staff of dispatchers were in crisis mode Sunday after 911 access went down for three hours.
The outage hit the entire southern portion of the state, according to an announcement by Kansas 911 Coordinating Council.
“Anything with 911, there’s always going to be stress,” Klenda said. “Sure, there’s definitely added stress just with the worry of not being able to help someone.”
Losing access to 911 has happened before, undersheriff David Huntley said, but he never remembered it occurring on such a large scale.
“It’s very rare that the whole system goes down, very rare,” he said. “That’s why we have the administrative number you can still get in on.”
People were able to call the dispatch office’s administrative number or text 911, though texting also went down later on.
Fortunately, everyone on staff had several years of experience as dispatchers they were able to keep cool heads, Klenda said.
“You instinctively know what to do, where to go, and where resources are,” she said. “You’re pre-planning for things. Once the situation happens we’re already thinking about what we need to do, what we need to get in place, and get ready to do it.”
The county also was lucky because no extreme emergency occurred while 911 was unavailable, Klenda said.
She heard the issue was caused by technical difficulties but did not know what exactly caused the problem.
Some news outlets attributed it to a technical issue with AT&T. Neither AT&T nor the state’s 911 coordinating council could be reached for comment.
Huntley wasn’t as strongly affected as dispatchers, but he understood how it could be a confusing situation.
“I’m not sure what caused it,” he said. “It is a little strange, especially to them, the people trying to call 911.”
The county also has a notification system called Nixle that can keep residents informed in similar situations, when there is extreme weather, a suspect at large, or other circumstances.
Last modified Dec. 2, 2020