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Emergency service crews help during widespread phone outage

Construction crews caused a fiber cut on Monday that left people in both Kansas and Missouri without internet or phone services. The outage was specific to CenturyLink customers.

CenturyLink said the problem was solved shortly after 6 p.m. Monday but, before the outage was fixed, emergency service crews around Boone County prepared to help.

The outage meant some people could not call 911, and the Boone County Office of Emergency Management reported having random problems receiving and making calls.

"Any time we experience an outage that was originating from the carrier so from this case it was CenturyLink where we have no ability to fail over to our own backup system or a partnering 911 center to take our 911 calls, which was the case in this instance," said Chad Martin, interim director of the Boone County Office of Emergency Management.

The Office of Emergency Management brought in extra staffing once it learned about the issue.

"Well, the full nature of it being the fiber cut, and we weren't really getting detailed information from Century Link, we just, the staffing that we called in kind of at a status quo for the day to  make sure that we would be able to provide the same level of service with whatever came about," Martin said.

The office told people to go to the nearest hospital, fire station or police department if they were not able to reach 911.

NEWS RELEASE- Possible 9-1-1 Service Disruption Reported by CenturyLink— Joint Communications (@BCJC911) October 28, 2019

The Boone County Fire Protection District staffed each of its departments once it learned about the outage, and it posted the location of each station.

If you need emergency assistance while the 911 lines are down in Boone County, stop by any of our 15 fire stations. A list to the locations and addresses to those stations can be found below:— Boone County Fire (@BooneCountyFire) October 28, 2019

Assistant Fire Chief Brad Fraizer of the Columbia Fire Department said people can always consider going to a fire station if they cannot reach 911.

"We're going to respond to your home in the case of a medical emergency, so we want people to know they can always come to us if they're not able to call 911," he said.

Fraizer said it is always smart for people to check on their neighbors in these types of instances.

"If you know of someone who does not have a phone, or cellphone, anyway, it's always, regardless of the situation, it's always good to check on them, anyone that's vulnerable. We would certainly encourage that," he said.

Martin said it is also smart for people to learn first aid so they can potentially help in the case of an emergency if they cannot immediately reach emergency services. 

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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