Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Twinbrook man dies during MoCo 911 service outage

Screen capture of
Montgomery County press release
regarding 911 outage shows
headline with "Outrage"
Freudian slip
"Outrage" was certainly an appropriate Freudian slip in the official Montgomery County press release regarding the two-hour 911 system outage that occurred overnight between Sunday and Monday. The statement attempted to mask the failure of the County to use its Alert Montgomery system to notify residents of the catastrophic outage during the actual outage period.

"During the two hours of interrupted service, alternative plans to receive and dispatch emergency plans were put into operation. Notification to the public was made through public safety social media and through the County’s Alert Montgomery emergency alert system."

But that claim is simply not true.

According to the County's own account, the outage lasted from 11:10 PM Sunday night to 1:09 AM Monday morning.

The first Alert Montgomery notifications were not sent out until 1:25 AM and 1:26 AM, according to timestamps of two Alert Montgomery subscribers. By that time, the outage was over. The reality was, the only notification during the outage period was coming from police and fire officials' social media accounts.

In contrast to apologists for County elected officials, County Executive Ike Leggett has correctly called for a full investigation of the failure. "County residents must be able to count on a prompt response to emergencies,” Leggett said in a later statement Monday.

Two people for whom fire and rescue services were sought during the outage died, the County has confirmed. One was a 40-year-old resident of the Twinbrook community in Rockville, and the second was a 91-year-old resident of Olney.

The point here is that there was a secondary communication failure Sunday night, and Alert Montgomery failed to notify the public of this dangerous 911 outage. That should be investigated alongside the main 911 failure.

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