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Nebraska Hams Needed to Provide Access to 911 Services

06/23/2011

When 23,000 people in Lincoln, Nebraska lost their digital phone service on the morning of June 22, local Amateur Radio operators were called in to help provide local residents with a connection to the 911 dispatchers. According to ARRL Nebraska Section Manager Art Zygielbaum, K0AIZ, those trying to call 911 via the digital phone system to report emergencies were met with a recording that said “Due to network difficulties, your call cannot go through.”

“Lancaster County [Nebraska] Emergency Manager Doug Ahlberg activated ARES® because Time Warner Cable lost a significant portion of its digital phone service,” Zygielbaum explained. “More than 30 ARES® members were deployed along major roads throughout Lincoln and at major intersections to help people who might need emergency services. The outage lasted close to 12 hours.” According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the digital phone service was working early Wednesday evening on a “rolling restoration” of 911 service. Time Warner said earlier its 10-digit calling issues were fixed.

This is the second time in 14 months that radio amateurs have been asked to provide support due to 911 service disruptions in Nebraska. In April 2010, almost 40,000 people -- including Lincoln’s government, business and emergency centers -- found out that they had no landline telephone service, as well as spotty cell phone coverage, thanks to an equipment malfunction at a Lincoln switching facility owned by Windstream Communications. According to news reports, residents of 12 counties were unable to contact 911 and dispatch centers used local radio amateurs to help provide communications support.



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