Oso first responders: 911 outage during landslide would've been 'crippling'

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 11 at 10:27 PM

On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee said he wants an explanation about exactly how a statewide 911 outage happened.  He said it while visiting with first responders in the Oso landslide, who echoed his concerns.

On the morning of March 22nd, drivers on State Route 530 who narrowly avoided the landslide instantly called 911.  They were the first to alert to describe the devastation.

Had they not been able to call for help, Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman says things might've been even worse than they already are.

"That would've been tremendously difficult for us, to get the information we needed for that slide, that initial response," he said.

Stedman and his team of firefighters met with Governor Jay Inslee on Friday afternoon.  Inslee wanted to thank the men and women of the Arlington Fire Department for their service during the landslide.

KING 5 asked Governor Inslee about the 911 outage that last for seven hours on April 10th.

"Obviously we need to get to the bottom of this," he said.  "This is life or death decisions in minutes.  We will get to the bottom of it.  We have not gotten those answers yet, but we will most assuredly obtain them in due course."

Just a few hours after he made that statement, CenturyLink issued one of its one, saying the 911 outage was not related to it's network, but instead was due to a technical error by a third-party vendor.  Centurylink says it worked with the vendor to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

"I echo what the governor said," said Stedman.  "That could've been very crippling for us, and could've been damaging to the life and safety of all the citizens in this county."

Centurylink says it continues to work with 911 centers across the state to ensure all issues have been resolved.

Saturday marks the three week anniversary of the landslide.  Snohomish County officials say 36 people are now confirmed dead.  Seven are still missing.

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