YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – This week’s 911 outage proved to be a test of emergency operations in Mahoning County and on Thursday, two officials received recognition for their quick actions to alert the public.
At their weekly meeting, Mahoning County Commissioners commended both 911 director Maggie McGee and Emergency Management Director Dennis O’Hara for keeping them and the public informed when 911 service went down on Tuesday.
AT&T officials said steam and water pipes burst inside a switching center in Akron, knocking out wired and cellular phone service in the region, including both Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
O’Hara said they immediately set up an emergency operations center to spread the word.
“Distributed information, got the scroll on TV, got the message on the radio, even got the message on the weather alert radio to get it out there that 911 was down,” O’Hara said.
He said county officials still need to talk with AT&T about what is being done to prevent such an outage from happening again.
“They are still restoring everything. So we do not have a definitive date yet with a meeting on AT&T,” O’Hara said.
McGee said bringing the system back online was more complicated than people realize.
“When you bring a system back up such as this, because this was pretty catastrophic, you still have to bring up each of those lines and you still have to work with the system so it does not do anything to the equipment at each of the locations,” McGee said.
An AT&T technician was at the Mahoning County 911 Center in Youngstown on Thursday to upgrade the software, which is something they had been doing the day the phone lines went out.
McGee said they just wanted to make sure the upgrade went through properly.
“You just want to be sure that everything is the way you want it to be and that we are not going to have any glitches or anything along the way. It is such technical equipment and the data that is coming through, you just want to make sure everything is alright,” she said.