911 dispatchers affected by AT&T outage - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

911 dispatchers affected by AT&T outage


By Elizabeth Vowell – email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) – Phone service is up and running for the thousands of AT&T customers who suddenly lost service Thursday. Among those customers is the Long Beach 911 emergency dispatch center.

When phones went out, they had to work fast to keep their life lines open. 

"It got very quiet very fast," said dispatcher Kevin Smyth.

According to AT&T, two separate fiber optic lines were accidentally cut by a third party. With South Mississippi under a Tropical Storm warning, the company said it worked fast to restore emergency lines.

"AT&T called us on the 911 line to see if we were up. We checked the lines. We were down," said Smyth.  "When we realized it was down you think about that person whose having that heart attack right now and he's dialing 911 and he's not getting anything."

Smyth said that for 15 minutes the 911 phones were quiet. Then the phone company began to reroute emergency calls to Biloxi.  Biloxi could then call through an administrative phone line to relay emergencies to Long Beach. 

"They said Biloxi would route the calls and say, 'Hey, you got this?' And we would respond," said Smyth

The dispatchers worked through Biloxi for about three hours, fielding about 78 calls until the fiber optic lines were repaired by Thursday evening.

Smyth said there were no reports of any emergencies while the lines were down. 

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