Construction error knocks out Metropolis 911 for hours - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Construction error knocks out Metropolis 911 for hours

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METROPOLIS -- We're all taught to call 911 as kids, but what do you do in the case the lines aren't working?

That's the situation for some callers in Metropolis Monday afternoon, who instead of hearing a dispatcher, heard silence.

Around three p.m. construction crew working in Metropolis, cut through the fiber optic cable used to connect to 911 dispatch, leaving all landlines and some cell phones, unable to call for help. 

"I was afraid we were going to miss a call," said dispatcher David Bowman. "I'm not worried about being busy, I'm worried about not being able to take that one call where we can make a difference in the outcome and that's the scary part for me."

Bowman says the phones were a little bit too quiet, and EMA figured out what was wrong quickly, redirecting emergency calls to police in Paducah and Johnson County, who relayed them back over radio.

And after getting over the initial shock of hearing systems were down, Metropolis Public safety chief Harry Masse says the city's contingency plans worked as well as he could have hoped... and service was restored at about one Wednesday morning

"It was a good test, it really was," he said. "It was unfortunate that it happened and by no means did we plan this, but we I would rather it happen yesterday when it was a fairly routine day than on a day a tornado went through and then it broke."

Bowman says in his 30 years as a dispatcher this is only the second time he's seen a system go down, but has advice in the rare situation a call to 911 won't go through.

"Know your local police department's phone numbers," he said. "You never know when one of the freak accidents is going to happen."

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