NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - An hours-long debacle caused 911 lines in New Kent County to be disabled for hours.
The problem was uncovered overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, but was not resolved until after the close of business Thursday.
Authorities say you can still reach emergency personnel in the event the 911 system is malfunctioning because there is an emergency plan in place.
"We started getting what they call ghost calls. Calls would come up like a 911 call, but there would be no one on the other end,” New Kent County Sheriff Joe McLaughlin said.
That turned a normal day into anything but.
There were no identifying phone numbers to return the calls, and callers were being directed elsewhere.
“If you were calling from a hard line phone, that call will go to King William Sheriff’s Office,” McLaughlin said. “They would have recognized where it was coming from, transfer it here to us on our administrative lines and our dispatchers would actually be taking that information and dispatching the appropriate resource.”
That results in a slight delay in dispatching emergency personnel, but dispatchers can still marshal the necessary resources.
"There may be a very short delay just because of the phone equipment transfer, but we’re dispatching fire rescue and law enforcement just like we normally do,” McLaughlin said.
Verizon sent New Kent an email indicating “Circuit/Trunk Trouble.” A Verizon rep visited the 911 center Thursday evening to restore the lines. Some 17 hours after the discovery, crews were able to get the phones up and running again.
"Apparently there was a problem with a piece of distribution equipment in Chester that caused this outage,” McLaughlin said.
The Sheriff said the biggest fear was the system was lost for good, and he thanked residents for their patience as officials worked to resolve the problem.