Cause of 911 problems still a mystery


By Patsy Nicosia

Emergency calls to Schoharie County’s 911 system have been running into trouble of their own.
Anyone who can’t get through when they dial 911 should use the direct line to the Sheriff’s Department, 295-8114.
Meanwhile, said Sheriff Tony Desmond, he and the Emergency Management Office are trying to pinpoint the cause of the disruption, which began on November 29.
“Honestly, we didn’t expect the problem to last this long,” Sheriff Desmond said. “We’re really not sure what’s wrong.”
EMO Director Director Judy Warner said initially, six of the system’s 10 trunk lines were down with problems dialing 911 happening in both the northern and southern portions of the county.
Ms. Warner said some people reported getting nothing or busy signals after making the emergency call while others said the line just kept ringing.
Thursday, the Sheriff’s Department sent out a press release, telling people who ran into difficulty to use the 295 number and Ms. Warner said her office used the reverse 911 system to let people know there were problems.
“It was a good test of the rapid-response system,” she said.
“Seventy-five percent of the calls got through.”
The reverse 911 calls a number three times and is also recorded on caller ID.
Those who may have been on the computer on a dial-up internet connection or who use cell phones instead of landlines may not have gotten the message, however.
Those kinds of phone users, Ms. Warner said, may want to sign up for email or other emergency notifications through the state website Click on the signup button on the right of the screen.
Sheriff Desmond said he knows of only one case where someone dialed 911 and couldn’t get through.
Callers are urged not to test the system; anyone in need of emergency help should try the 911 number first and if they don’t reach someone, hang up and dial the 295-8114 number.
Callers in the northern portion of the county in the 607 area code need to remember to dial 518 first, Sheriff Desmond said.
“We’re not sure if it’s a local problem or something more,” he said.
“We’re still searching for answers.”