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SE MN 911 disruption under investigation; 369 calls to 911 failed to reach dispatch centers

Mower County is working with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks division (DPS-ECN) to learn the cause behind a disruption to the state’s 911 system, according to Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik.

The disruption began on Sunday, Jan. 19, and ended in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 20. At least nine public safety answering points or dispatch centers in Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona Counties were affected.

Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik

CenturyLink, who is Minnesota’s contracted 911 service provider, is investigating the disruption, which it said began at 8:52 p.m. on Jan. 19 and was resolved at 1 a.m. on Jan. 20. During that time, CenturyLink reported there were 369 missed 911 calls. CenturyLink believes a connection between a 911 router in Rochester was impacted, but is still looking into how the disruption occurred.

As the state’s contracted 911 vendor, CenturyLink is required to provide a cause for the disruption to DPS-ECN. In addition, DPS-ECN is working with the affected public safety answering points, including Mower County, to confirm the time and number of missed calls during the disruption.

Sandvik said 911 is still a trusted and reliable method to call for help in the event of an emergency. While disruptions are rare, Sandvik encourages residents to put Mower County’s 24-hour emergency number, 507-437-9400 (option 1), into their cell phones or have it written down next to their landline. This alternative number for 911 dispatch should only be used in the event of a disruption.

Minnesota’s 102 dispatch centers typically receive an average of 7,817 calls per day, according to Sandvik. DPS-ECN oversees the 911 program and is in the fourth year of a five-year, $29.5 million contract with CenturyLink. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is the regulatory authority over