A spokesperson for the Office of Unified Communications recently admitted a contractor working for the Department of General Services inadvertently shut down the entire 911 call system for almost two-hours after hitting the wrong switch. Officials claim the contractor was called to deal with a false alarm at the call center and instead of turning off the switch for the alarm in question accidentally turned off the entire 911 system.
The Director for the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency says he was immediately informed of the outage, at which point other workers were dispatched to solve the problem. According to that official, the issue was realized after about 15 to 20 minutes but rebooting the system took up the majority of the time.
During the outage, dozens of calls seeking help from police, fire, and EMS were rerouted using 10-digit numbers. While initial reports indicate no one was seriously hurt waiting for help during the 911 outage, the situation could have been much more dire under different circumstances.
DC’s Fire and EMS have been under intense scrutiny for several years about call routing, dispatch, and general dereliction of duties. In recent years, there have been tragic cases of victims suffering serious medical episodes dying as they waited for emergency responders improperly dispatched by 911 operators.
Unfortunately for some victims, 911 operators remain insulated from liability due to the city’s immunity laws for that particular agency. However, as every case is unique and there have been cases where victims were able to seek justice when other agencies acted negligently.
The attorneys of The Cochran Firm, DC understand our community expects the best from our police, firefighters, and EMS personnel and they should be counted on in an emergency. Partner Karen E. Evans represents to the family of Medric “Cecil” Mills who tragically passed away in front of a fire station while firefighters inside refused to come to his aid when he suffered a heart attack.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury because police, firefighters, or EMS acted negligently, contact our office for a consultation about your case. Our team of attorneys, investigators, and staff can help find answers and hold wrongdoers responsible for their careless actions.