No alarm over 911 line delay in Essex County: Windsor fire chief

The number of emergency calls were not affected by an eight hour 911 line delay in Essex County over the weekend, says Windsor's fire chief.
Windsor Fire Cheif Bruce Montone says there no need to be alarmed over a 911 line delay in Essex County over the weekend. (Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

The number of emergency calls were not affected by an eight hour 911 line delay in Essex County over the weekend, says Windsor's fire chief.

Bruce Montone points out the 911 service was not down, but experiencing a delay.

"What the problem was, Bell has built into the infrastructure that when there's a challenge within their network the system automatically reroutes those calls around the problem area, but in doing that what happens is, instead of reaching the 911 centre in three or four rings, it takes six, or seven or eight rings and people lose patience and think they're not being connected and they hang up," he said.  

The problem occurred around 10 p.m. Friday and was fixed by 8:30 a.m. the next morning, said Montone, Windsor's fire chief.

Emergency agencies alerted the public about the issue through Twitter. Montone also said there are alternative emergency numbers the public could call, including a 1-800 number.

"Those in our community — the elderly perhaps or others that aren't as media savvy — still have a very-little-used-today method of obtaining telephone numbers, and that's the phone book," said Montone.

However, he said an alternative, shorter number, to replace 911 in case of something like this happens again is not necessary.

"The redundancy built into the 911 centre was done purposefully, so if there is a failure, if there's a complete line break anywhere, those calls that would normally go through that area are rerouted," said Montone. "In this case that's exactly what occurred, but people wouldn't know that."

Montone said a lot people didn't notice there was a problem.

More publicity needed on alternative numbers

Keeping the 10 digit numbers from two decades ago when 911 did not exist is a good idea to many, but residents said there needs to be more publicity letting them know those are the alternatives.

"Can you imagine, scrambling around for a 519 number," said Kyle James Colasanti.  

"If you take first aid, you learn the other emergency lines, but a lot of people don't know it," said Nicolette Leblanc.

Len Beneteau point out that people don't remember numbers anymore — they have them saved in their cell phones.

"They just look up numbers that are programmed," said Beneteau. "I guess they could program numbers into their phone. That could be a solution for it."

"Putting it out over the media services, if you're not tech savvy then you're not going to know," said Fiona Mclean.


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