CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Although Kanawha County's Metro 911 system has had its share of glitches in recent years, local residents have been spared massive outages that have plagued other parts of the country.
"We were planning for the expected unexpected from day one," said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, who has been pushing for state-of-the-art emergency services equipment since his first day in office.
The inability of thousands of residents in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and other states to make 911 calls during June's derecho and superstorm Sandy earlier this fall revealed systemic problems with Verizon's telephone system, The Washington Post reported this month. Verizon routes 911 calls to 1,800 government dispatch centers in 12 states, according to the newspaper.
Despite systems that are designed to be failsafe and operate when power and other infrastructure is down, the Post uncovered problems with Verizon's emergency call systems that included struggles to maintain equipment, computer glitches and the failure of company officials to notice or heed automatic alarms.
Verizon set up the phone systems that serve the Kanawha County Metro 911 Center as well, but those lines were taken over by Frontier Communications when Frontier bought more than 600,000 telephone lines in West Virginia from Verizon in 2009. The changeover took place in July 2010.
Metro 911 Director Johnny Rutherford said about half a dozen isolated outages in different parts of the county have kept some residents from being able to call 911 over the past two years, but nothing like the massive outages in Virginia and other states.
Russell Emrick, deputy director in charge of technology for the 911 center, said local officials have been "very vocal" in making sure Frontier understands the importance of reliable 911 service in the county.