Northern Virginia officials are raising questions about how Verizon handled the loss of several 911 emergency systems, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The 911 problems in Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties, among other places, started in the aftermath of Friday night's derecho and were not fully cleared up until Tuesday in some areas.
In Arlington, Jack Brown, the head of the county's Office of Emergency Management, wanted officials to think carefully about proceeding with Fourth of July festivities because of the post-storm cleanup and communications situations.
The main culprit seems to have been a Verizon "trunk line" in Arlington, Patch reported Saturday. A trunk is a "communications path connecting two switching systems in a network" — a key element in routing calls, according to this Verizon glossary.
Brown told Ballston Patch Tuesday in advance of the holiday festivities: "Our 911 system is still hit or miss. So, you add thousands of people on this side of the Potomac River, and if someone has a medical emergency, and they can't get through… that puts a strain on the system." The 911 system is now up and running again.
The director of Fairfax County’s emergency communications center said it took Verizon roughly three hours to officially notify the county that 911 was down after the emergency line went out at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, the Post reported.
In addition to Fairfax County, Prince William County, Manassas Park and other officials are asking Verizon to conduct an internal investigation, Manassas Park Patch reported earlier this week.
Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones said earlier this week, "...Personally, I am extremely concerned. We cannot have the critical link between the citizens and the city's emergency response capability compromised. The lack of information, the duration of the outage, and the clear lack of back-up/redundancy have created an unacceptable situation. I agree with (Fairfax County Supervisor) Sharon Bulova—an investigation is warranted."
This is not the first time Arlington has had 911 problems in the aftermath of a storm. A January 2011 snowstorm also caused 911 outages in Arlington County.