Cole County residents experience 911 service outage

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JEFFERSON CITY - The town of St. Thomas has 911 service again, after experiencing an outage that lasted three hours on Friday. 

At around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, authorities in Jefferson City received an email notification from CenturyLink saying that 911 services to St. Thomas were interrupted due to technical issues. 

According to the email and Jefferson City Police Department, 229 phone lines were affected by the 911 outage. 

Captain Eric Wilde said any sort of 911 service outage is a concern for the police department.

"It just takes one unanswered called for something to become a huge problem," Wilde said. "The outage only lasted a few hours, but it only takes a few seconds for someone calling with a heart attack to make a difference."

Even though there were only 229 phone lines affected by the outage, Wilde said the protocol was the same as it would be for a much larger number of outages.

"We're handling the 911 outage in St. Thomas the same way we would if it was the case for all of Jefferson City," he said.

Authorities said they were able to contact 180 people in St. Thomas via an email notification service to let them know there was a 911 service outage and were directed to call a different number in case of an emergency until the problem was resolved. 

The Cole County Sheriff's Department told me they attempted to reach people that were not on the email service by alerting local media to the problem, and they would do so in similar situations in the future. 

Operators at the Jefferson City and Cole County 911 call center were not only prepared to take calls on a separate line, but were broadcasting emergency announcements over tornado sirens letting those affected know that 911 services were out.

Wilde said, in his 16 years with the force, he had never seen an outage like this one.

"This is a pretty unheard of event," Wilde said. "I talked to everyone that works in the communication department and they couldn't think of any other 911 service outage."

Authorities with the Jefferson City Police Department and Cole County Sheriff's Department said that the problem was on CenturyLink's end, not on the Jefferson City and Cole County 911 call center's end. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to CenturyLink for comment on the 911 outage, and at 3:30 on Friday had not heard back.