DC 911 Outage Caused by Contractor Who Pulled Wrong Switch

WASHINGTON — D.C. officials said that human error is to blame for a 911 center outage over the weekend.

A contractor working Saturday night pulled the wrong switch while trying to silence an alarm and instead took down the 911 system. That switch was clearly labeled, said Alan Etter, spokesman for the Office of Unified Communications.

The contractor who pulled the wrong switch is no longer allowed into District buildings, and any disciplinary action would be handled by the contractor’s employer.

Officials estimate that 300 to 350 calls to 911 did not go through during the 1.5-hourlong outage, which began about 11 p.m. on Saturday.

The Office of Unified Communications wants to hear from anyone who attempted to call 911 on Saturday night or early Sunday morning but were unable to get. They can call the District’s nonemergency 311 number to report their experience.

D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Chris Geldart said Sunday that power was cut within the building. The loss of power prevented operators from transferring 911 calls to a backup center.

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