State says 911 service back to normal after disruption

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Published: 12/28/2018 8:07:36 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Cellphone and landline calls to the emergency 911 number in Massachusetts were disrupted Friday, part of a nationwide breakdown linked to CenturyLink, a Louisiana-based telecommunications giant.

Massachusetts State Police said early in the day that the issue had been fixed, but as of late Friday it was unclear whether service had been fully restored.

“We’re experiencing outages still,” Kelly Schuetze, the director of communications for Northampton, said late Friday morning. Schuetze said some callers were getting through, though others were getting busy signals.

But by Friday evening, the state 911 department advised that the nationwide system problems had been corrected, at least with respect to Massachusetts.

U.S. officials and at least one state said Friday that they have started investigating the internet failure, which affected customers from Massachusetts to California.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage that began Thursday “completely unacceptable” because people who need help couldn’t use the emergency number.

“Its breadth and duration are particularly troubling,” he said.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Debra Peterson said the outage “is not related to hacking,” but she declined further comment. The company tweeted late Thursday evening that the issue, which began earlier that day, was with a “network element.”

On Friday evening, the company tweeted that it was still dealing with a “network event,” but that 911 calls were completing. Several commenters, however, said they were still experiencing problems in other states.

Schuetze said people should call 911 if they have an emergency. If they don’t connect, they should call the department’s alternative emergency numbers. In Northampton, those numbers are 413-582-0396 and 413-582-0395.

Each police department has a 10-digit emergency number. For other cities and towns in the Pioneer Valley, those numbers are as follows:

Amherst: 413-259-3000

Belchertown: 413-323-6685

Easthampton: 413-527-1212

Granby: 413-467-9222

Hadley: 413-584-0883

South Hadley: 413-538-8231

Southampton: 413-527-1120

The following towns are dispatched by Northampton Control, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and should call the 10-digit emergency number at 413-586-1508: Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Granville, Hatfield, Huntington, Montgomery, Pelham, Plainfield, Russell, Williamsburg, Westhampton and Worthington.

Deerfield, Leverett, Shutesbury, Sunderland and Whately are among the towns dispatched by Shelburne Control, which can be reached at 413-625-8200.

If you cannot locate your city or town’s 10-digit emergency number, please contact the state 911 department at 508-872-2508 and tell the dispatcher the exact location of the emergency, including city or town, and they can transfer the call to the correct department, MEMA said.

With reporting by Gazette reporters Dusty Christensen and Greta Jochem.




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