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Cellular 911 Service Restored Across UC

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cellular 911 Service Restored Across UC

911 service to cellular phones restored across the Upper Cumberland Monday following repairs to the Nashville AT&T Operations Center.

“We’re seeing a lot more stability come back to the network, we’re receiving 911 calls now,” Putnam County 911 Assistant Director Brandon Smith said. “We feel like most of the wireless callers in the upper Cumberland are reaching someone in a 911 center somewhere. And that, you know, that’s our biggest thing. We want people to be able to get help, even if it’s not the local center. We work really well together across the upper Cumberland and across the state so we can easily transfer and relay those calls if we need to explain that part of it.”

911 service issues began after the Christmas morning explosion in downtown Nashville. An RV exploded outside the AT&T building downtown. Because of the holiday call volume, Smith said it was not immediately known systems across middle Tennessee had an issue.

“It’s typically on holidays, it’s really busy or it’s really quiet,” Smith said. “And we were fortunate that it was really quiet this year on Christmas Day. And so it took a while for us to get enough calls that tried to hit the system before we realized there was an issue.”

The issues were centered on cellular phones. Smith said the explosion took out equipment that routes cell phone traffic back to the landline system. Some callers got an immediate busy signal while others would get ringing then a quick busy tone.

Cell calls to 911 systems began slowly returning to the grid Sunday. By Monday evening, most all traffic had returned. Smith said Upper Cumberland residents should keep the emergency numbers handy in case issues arise during the restoration work this week.

Smith said the fact that the incident happened during a holiday helped emergency personnel as call volumes were lower.

“I think that made a lot of difference for us,” Smith said. “If you imagine this happening, you know, our infrastructure being taken down through the week when it was a little busier, could have wreaked a lot more havoc. But, you know, I think that throughout Putnam County, our emergency dispatchers, the police department, the sheriff’s department, our partners at the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the team around here have just really shown their resiliency this year and everything that’s been thrown at them from the tornado to COVID and all of the other smaller emergencies in between. They really just rise to the occasion. They’re resilient.”

“They do whatever it takes to make it happen, to get the service to our public so we can’t thank them and praise them enough for the way that they’ve acted in and really taken a lot of ownership and extra effort during this time.”


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