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Mower County Sheriff's Office addresses 911 outage

Dozens of Mower County residents were among the callers who couldn't get through.

Posted: Jan 23, 2020 5:31 PM

AUSTIN, Minn-Hundreds of people across southern Minnesota could not get through to 911 Sunday evening. Dozens of Mower County residents were among the callers who couldn't get through. Thursday the Mower County Sheriff's Office released new information about its investigation.

Century link is Minnestoa’s contracted 911 service provider. Between 8:52 pm and 1:00 a.m. the 911 line in Dodge, Freeborn, Mower, Goodhue, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties were down.

In an email sent to KIMT News Three, Century Link offered no details, only attributing Sunday's outage a technical issue. Chief Deputy for the Mower County Sheriff's Office Mark May says the provider will have to answer to the state.

“They have to find out the cause of it and give that to the state of Minnesota Department of Public Safety which handles all the counties 911 calls throughout the state,”

Austin resident Kurt Mueller didn't have an emergency Sunday evening but says it's alarming to hear. At least 36 people in Mower county got a busy signal when they called 911. May says nine counties were impacted and as many as 369 calls were missed.

"Now that I’m hearing that it's over three hundred calls that were missed across the state I want to how those calls were handled,” Mueller said.

" We think a lot of people were able to get throughout the non-emergency number,” May said.

A similar 911 glitch happened six months ago in Mower County, and May says the calls were rerouted to Freeborn County. In that instance, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office learned the importance of communicating with the public. One communication option is an alert system called Code Red.
Austin resident Doreen Nelson got that Code Red alert.

"How I found out about it was through the alert on my phone,” Nelson said. “It went off Sunday night late and I quickly grabbed my phone thinking it was an amber alert it was not. I read the message that said 911 was down and it gave a number to contact if I had an emergency."

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