The director of Nashville's 911 center is criticizing a mobile phone service provider, saying it acted too slowly when its customers were unable to dial 911.
According to Duane Phillips, people using Sprint phones were unable to connect to 911 services for 12 hours on Monday. The outage affected Davidson and four other counties, he said.
The problem was discovered during one of the checks that employees at the Nashville 911 make at the beginning of every shift. Employees use their city-provided Sprint cell phones to call their own 911 system to make sure calls are going through.
"We got a message that said, 'This number can't be reached at this time, Try again later,'" Phillips said.
That's not what you want to hear when a loved one is having a heart attack, or when you need the police.
"No. And that's what worries us, when people need us the most, they can't reach us," Phillips said.
A representative for Sprint told Channel 4 by email that they had a "hardware issue at one of the switching centers" and said, "Customers should be assured that this is an isolated issue and not representative of the wireless service Sprint provides daily."
Metro Nashville's 911 center asked local media to broadcast a warning Monday night, urging Sprint customers to call an alternate number if they need to reach 911.
Phillips said that after the warning was broadcast, 911 operations centers in four more counties discovered they were not getting Sprint calls either. The problems were reported in Rutherford, Wilson, Robertson and Sumner counties in addition to Davidson County.
Phillips is critical of how Sprint handled the outage.
"They told me originally that it would be 72 hours before they got back to me, and I told them that was unacceptable," he said.
Phillips said Sprint didn't dispatch a technician to troubleshoot the problem for six hours and didn't fix the problem for another six hours.
"I know we discovered it at 3:30 [Monday] afternoon and it wasn't fixed until 3:30 [Tuesday] morning," he said.
Sprint did not respond to our calls and emails asking questions about the delay.
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