Officials share alternate ways to contact 911 if your phone won’t connect

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:09 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you get cell phone service through Verizon and needed to call 911 Tuesday, you might have had a delay.

The issue has since been resolved, but when there’s an emergency, seconds are crucial.

“We sent some people out with actual Verizon phones to test,” said Greg Silas. “We were able to establish there was a 10-30 second delay before that call would ring in to us.”

Silas is the Director of the Birmingham Emergency Communication District and oversees the City of Birmingham’s 911 system.

He says as far as they know, nobody was unable to get in touch with a 911 operator during the issues.

A Verizon spokesperson sent WBRC the following statement:

“Service was fully restored yesterday. Earlier yesterday, our network engineers worked hard to resolve an issue that resulted in delays in connecting 911 calls for some customers in your area. It’s important to note that those customers throughout the issue could still reach 911, as calls were still being connected.”

Marcy Ledbetter, the Jefferson County 911 Center Manager, said even seconds count during emergencies.

“When you’re calling 911, most of the time it’s a catastrophic event,” she explained. It’s something that you need help with immediately. So even 45 seconds -- that’s a lot of time wasted when we could have people on the way.”

She says it’s important to have a back up plan in case your 911 call won’t go through.

“We have what a lot of people don’t know about,” said Ledbetter. “It’s called Texty for Jefferson County so you can actually text to 911.”

She also recommends programming non-emergency numbers into your phone.

“The same telecommunicators that answer 911 lines are going to answer those admin lines and respond appropriately,” she added.

It’s important to note that calling 911 is always your best option in an emergency, but just in case save those non-emergency numbers to your contact list now so you don’t struggle to find them when seconds really do count.

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