What started as a PG&E outage turned into a hobbled 911 system for the city of Oakland, and the city’s 911 call center had trouble routing calls throughout Thursday afternoon and evening.
A standard summertime PG&E outage struck Oakland Thursday afternoon, affecting what the utility estimated at about 10,800 customers. But surely there are backup measures in place for first responders, right? There are, but they don’t always work, as KTVU reports that backup power failed at Oakland's 911 call center Thursday afternoon, and it’s unclear whether that system has fully recovered as of Friday morning,
City Update —— City of Oakland (@Oakland) July 7, 2023
Technical issues affecting City facilities were reported this afternoon shortly after 3pm. Routing of 911 calls is temporarily slower than normal as a result.
"Routing of 911 calls is temporarily slower than normal as a result,” the City of Oakland Twitter account said just before 7:45 p.m. Thursday night. “All emergency calls are being answered and appropriately dispatched for police, fire, and medical services. If your call drops or you receive a busy signal, please hang up and call back.”
But the trouble started a few hours earlier, shortly after 3 p,m. Thursday, according to KTVU. When the outage hit, the call center reportedly tried to switch to its two backup power sources, one a generator and the other battery-powered.
The Oakland Police Department nonemergency lines have also been impacted. We recognize that your calls are urgent and we are grateful for your patience. The City will provide additional updates as these issues are addressed and resolved.— City of Oakland (@Oakland) July 7, 2023
The generator powered on, but its power switch didn’t work, rendering it useless. The battery system, which is apparently 20 years old, worked only for an hour.
As of late Thursday night, 911 calls were being routed to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office dispatch. The city gave no timeline for a repair, and as of Friday morning, there is no indication that Oakland’s 911 system is back to normal operations. We’ll update this post with any developments.
Image: CDC via Unsplash