Both administrative and emergency calls into the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) were brought down on Sept. 11 by a glitch in the telecommunications hub belonging to AT&T. By Sept. 12, the outage had been resolved, the HCSO said.
According to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, at about 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, all calls to the HCSO went down.
“Fortunately we realized it very quickly and contacted AT&T who is our provider, and we almost immediately had the (9-1-1) phone (lines) switched over to the communications center in Pasco County,” Nienhuis said. “They were able to relay information to us and we were able to dispatch deputies and emergency services fire and rescue to the site of those 9-1-1 calls, and we don’t think any 9-1-1 calls went unanswered.”
During the outage, a phone number routed non-emergency calls to the HCSO, he said.
By midnight on Sept. 12, the HCSO was able to switch its calls to its District 2 communication center in Spring Hill, Nienhuis said.
At the same time, HCSO confirmed that the outage was totally unrelated to its in-house telecommunications system. Instead, it was caused by an issue at AT&T’s main local hub.
“Since other carriers use similar towers, some other carriers were impacted not just in Hernando County but the counties to our north and our south,” Nienhuis said.
He also said while the call lines were down, those who needed emergency services were still able to text 911.
“So if this ever happens in the future, here or in some other jurisdiction, (and ) if you have to get (in touch) with law enforcement or with fire rescue emergency try texting to 911,” Nienhuis said. “Call if you can, Text if you can’t.”