Some Indiana counties lose 911 call service for several hours

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The 911 call system went down in several central Indiana counties Wednesday morning, causing a back-up system to kick in that re-routed calls to other counties allowing people to receive the help they needed.

In central Indiana, Hamilton, Shelby, Madison, Johnson, Boone, Morgan and Hancock Counties were all affected for at least three hours, causing their 911 calls to be sent to other dispatch centers across the state.

"The phone is generally ringing most of the day," said Hamilton County 911 Operator Lakisha Goins.

That's not what Goins found at work Wednesday, though.

"It's kind of aggravating 'cause you know, you know the calls are there," said Goins of the calls she knew were going to Clinton County because Hamilton's system wasn't working.

"Calls are being answered. It may not be by us, but we're getting assistance to the people that need it," said Hamilton County Public Safety Communications Director of Operations Darin Riney.

"They called us on the radio and we were actually able to dispatch that call out right then," said Riney of how the back-up system worked when Clinton County started taking Hamilton County's calls. Riney said Boone County usually serves as the back-up, but since Boone County also didn't have 911 service, the help came from Clinton County.

Three and a half hours into the outage, most of the 911 service had been restored in Central Indiana.

Operators like Lakisha Goins were back assisting those who needed it.

"I like the uncertainty. I like coming in every day and it's something different. It's never the same.  Some days are easy. Some days are hard," said Goins of her job.

For Goins, the hardest part Wednesday was not having anyone to help because the people who needed it couldn't get through. 

AT&T has apologized and said they're investigating the cause of the outage.

"This morning, emergency calls to a limited number of counties surrounding Indianapolis were temporarily rerouted to nearby 911 agencies. AT&T technicians resolved the issue and 911 calls have been rerouted back. The network is now working normally. We apologize for the inconvenience," said AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly.

Indiana's 911 Board made up of authorities from several counties 911 agencies, said there was no interruption of emergency services for callers who needed help and that the public was able to reach critical safety agencies during the outage. The 911 Board said backup plans worked as designed.

Statement from Indiana 911 Board:

"Around 11:15 am on April 9th, several central Indiana Counties had an outage of their 911 call taking equipment. Reports indicate that 911 calls were automatically re-routed to other 911 agencies within the region. Service was restored at approximately 12:15 pm. The public was able to reach critical public safety agencies during the outage. This incident was not a statewide outage, and was limited only to the central Indiana region.

The State Treasurer's office coordinates the Indiana 911 Board, consisting of public safety representatives from throughout the state and representing 911 authorities, cities, towns and county government, as well as the wireline and wireless industry.

The Board, working with the 911 system service providers in the state, have call routing plans and county agreements to ensure that the public has access to 911. The backup plans worked as designed during today's incident.

This outage was within the 911 network of the service provider of these central Indiana agencies, and they are working with their vendor to determine the cause of the outage."