Thursday evening (at approximately 9:00 pm PST), many 911 callers failed to reach their local 911 call center in states across the country. At 10:01 pm that night, SeattleAlert sent out a message to all Seattleites with the subject “911 OUTAGE-MAJOR DISRUPTION” stating “If you have an emergency and cannot connect to Seattle 911, please call 206.583.2111, 206.625.5011, or text 911. Seattle technicians are working on the matter.” At the same time, King County issued a press release restating the above and letting residents know that there was no estimate as of yet for when service would be restored.
As of Friday morning, King County Emergency announced that the outage was due to failures in the service provided by CenturyLink — the network hosting 911 services for all states in which failure occurred. Most service has been restored, but if you need to contact 911 and cannot then The Seattle Times has compiled a list of where you should call based on your location.
All residents are urged not to call 911 to test their connection as phone lines need to be kept open for people with emergencies.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted that the agency will be investigating the outage. Chairman Pai issued a statement about the investigation, saying that “When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help. The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling. I’ve directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage.”