9-1-1 service goes down across the Maritimes

Provincial alert sent over alll cell phones in Nova Scotia to inform residents 9-1-1 wasn't working
Emergency alert message sent to cell phones across NS when 9-1-1 went down. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - QCCR/CJQC - LiverpoolNS | 01-02-2023
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Emergency calls to 9-1-1 went answered Monday morning.

A failure occurred around 7 a.m. which prevented residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island from connecting with emergency services for roughly two hours.

The minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office John Lohr says, to his knowledge, this may be the first time a 9-1-1 system has ever gone down anywhere in Canada.

“Our goal is not to have a split second of disruption of the 9-1-1 services," said Lohr. "That’s our goal and just to have two hours lost this morning is very, very shocking to us.”

Officials at the EMO centre sent a message out over the Nova Scotia emergency alert system at 8:08 a.m.

Lohr says the time was needed to gather alternate telephone numbers and ensure those numbers were correct and working before providing them to the public.

At this point, the minister says he is unaware of any situation where someone needed help and didn’t receive it during the two hours 9-1-1 was down.

At a press availability Monday afternoon, Minister Lohr explained the 9-1-1 system is operated separately from other cellular or landline systems and is built to a more robust and higher standard than those established by the CRTC for personal and business use.

There are multiple redundancies built into the system which are supposed to prevent any disruption to the service.

Several municipalities took it upon themselves, through their social media channels, to provide residents with a list of telephone numbers their residents could call to connect with local help.

Lohr says the provincial centre informed the municipal units about the breakdown and while the two levels of government work together during emergencies, the 9-1-1 system is a provincial responsibility, and the provincial team were focused on getting help out to all corners of Nova Scotia.

“The municipalities are incredibly important partners for us in their EMO plan and each municipality has their own EMO plan," said Lohr. "This PCC is the provincial coordination centre, we would coordinate with the municipal emergency measures offices but as Paul Mason (Director of Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office) has said the 9-1-1 system is overarching so that would be our responsibility."

The 9-1-1 system is operated by Bell across the three provinces and the company is still investigating the cause of the system failure.

Lohr says he expects they will provide an update once they determine the reason for the communications blackout.

**Update Feb 1: CBC is reporting Bell provided them a statement indicating the outage was the result of a software upgrade.

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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