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Cameron County Officials Explain 9-1-1 System Crash

2 years 7 months 1 week ago Friday, March 23 2018 Mar 23, 2018 March 23, 2018 8:30 PM March 23, 2018 in News

CAMERON COUNTY - A "first of it's kind" 9-1-1 failure, the Cameron County's emergency system crashed Thursday. 

The failure was brief; it lasted less than hour.

The system runs off two servers. Both went down. For these situations, they tell us a protocol is in place.

For every call that comes into the 9-1-1 dispatch, servers help route calls. Cameron County Emergency Communications District manages those servers. They replace them every five years. That's what AT&T was attempting Thursday. They were replacing their old servers with new ones.

"Apparently there was a software glitch at one of the servers. What we did is we followed protocol which is we reverted back to our old servers," explains Deputy Director Joel Davila. He says the protocol automatically rerouted 911 calls to other lines where dispatchers were ready to take them. This happened in less than an hour, depending in which city you were in.

"The actual length was from some locations were 5 minutes and others were up to 45 minutes."

They replace the servers periodically. They say this is the first time it happens. Plans to transition to the new equipment will continue. With it, they will be switching from TTY to SMS text messaging.

"TTY is old-fashioned, like on a keyboard and it's a lot slower. And, it's one-way communication. I have to sent a text and then our dispatch center will receive it. And then, they have to respond. So, you go back and forth. And, of course, with SMS texting, it's a lot faster because I can be texting you and you could be responding at the same time. So, it's a lot faster that way."

Davila says they are prepared to handle this situation should it happen when AT&T comes back to replace the servers.

South Padre Island put out a notification Thursday about the glitch. In it they provided an alternate number. Davila says all calls made to 911 were still be routed to the appropriate administrative lines.

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