Pierce County quickly mobilized in the early hours of Thursday morning to support local 911 dispatch centers during a multi-state outage.
After learning about the outage at 1:20 a.m., the county activated its Emergency Operations Center in Tacoma to coordinate and support 911 dispatch centers during this unprecedented incident. Two dozen staff and dispatch center liaisons compiled a list of alternate phone numbers for police, fire and medical aid and shared it with news media, social media and the Pierce County ALERT mass-notification system.
“Our Emergency Management staff and partners were responding to this crisis within minutes,” County Executive Pat McCarthy said. “Our goal was to make sure everyone knew what was happening and how to call for help in an emergency.
“I will be monitoring the state’s investigation of the causes of this outage,” she added. “In the meantime, we will review our own response to this incident. Any lessons learned will help increase our capabilities.”
People returning home from work may notice missed calls from Emergency Management’s Pierce County ALERT system - a toll-free number.
The first call was intended for approximately 400,000 devices. However, the alert was canceled part-way through the notification because the 911 system was coming back online. It reached 89,000 devices. The second call – which started in the late morning – notified the public that the system had been restored.
Pierce County residents and businesses are encouraged to opt in for emergency alerts. To sign up, go to www.piercecountywa.org/alert or call (253) 798-6595.
Hunter George, Pierce County Communications