911 not affected in phone outage early Wednesday

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The telecommunications company, Consolidated Communications, says a hardware failure is to blame for residents in the Fargo-Moorhead area losing its service for most of the morning.

The company says it discovered the issue around 8 a.m. Monday and by 11:30 that same morning, had fixed the problem.

"It was really quite small a limited number, 50 or less," the company’s senior communications specialist, Chastity Valvick, said.

Small as it may be, one of its customers is the City of Fargo—and within that, the Red River Regional Dispatch Center.

But director Mary Phillippi says 911 calls were still able to come through while the phones were out.

"As far as taking messages, or things like that,” she said during the outage, “those calls are not coming through, but if people need police, fire, ambulance, we're still up, we're still running."

Phillippi says that's because the 911 calls come in through a separate—and secure—emergency service.

But what about those calls to dispatch that aren't an emergency?

"Say they were in a car accident but there are no injuries,” Phillippi said, “most of the time that would be considered a non-emergency call, they would call the non-emergency number."

For those too, Phillippi says it's okay to call 911 when other lines are down.

"And our dispatchers will be able to send police out to take your reports," she said.

But for a true non-emergency, like leaving a phone message, dispatch asks you to wait until the phones are restored.