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Verizon Details Massive 9-1-1 Failure In Wake Of Derecho

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credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CBSDC) — Verizon had some explaining to do.

The telecom giant met with the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments Wednesday afternoon at Alexandria Police headquarters to flesh out why its 9-1-1 call system failed across northern Virginia following the Derecho storm in late June.

The service, which failed on June 30, wasn’t fully restored until July 3.

An 11-page report given to the Council of Governments outlines what went wrong — multiple generators failed and the back-up batteries were drained.

Verizon admitted they failed to recognize the severity of the situation, dragging out the crisis in communications.

“For years we had been under the false impression that their system was more robust and redundant,” said Steve Souder, Fairfax 9-1-1 Center Director. “So they’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Verizon agreed to adopt five “common sense” recommendations immediately in addition to a host of other corrective actions:

  • Adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  • Notify 9-1-1 centers when there may be a problem with service
  • Conduct semi-annual drills with local authorities by the start of 2013.
  • Provide updated emergency contact lists of Verizon personnel
  • Have a Verizon representative stationed at an Emergency Operations Center, if requested

According to Souder, the more than 2 million people affected by the outage makes it the largest in the 44-year history of 9-1-1.

“So clearly the attention of the nation has been focused on what happened here locally in the Washington region,” Souder said, “And what Verizon is going to do to correct that.”

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