I-Team exposes more breakdowns in Cleveland’s 911 system


CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found phone lines went down Wednesday morning in the Cleveland 911 center.

And, around the same time, technical issues also hit the Cuyahoga County communications center.

For months, we’ve looked into breakdowns and snags handling your emergencies.

Wednesday, an internal memo shows Cleveland dispatch phones were down for about 45 minutes. Meantime, Cuyahoga County officials say their 911 center had “limited connectivity” with the internet.

The latest problems raise concerns for Dawn Derbin. Last year, her father, a retried police officer, died after a medical emergency and a delay getting help in Brooklyn Heights.

“You don’t know what’s happening on the other end of that call. Every second counts. It’s life or death every second,” Derbin said.

We investigated the impact of the latest snags on your 911 calls.

Multiple sources say when the Cleveland lines went down on Wednesday, police dispatchers had trouble transferring calls as people needed firefighters or an ambulance. During that time, we’re told, some calls sent to Fire and EMS went through. Some did not.

So, what about the issues around the same time in Cuyahoga County dispatch? A supervisor tells us, calltakers  got a signal on their computer screens alerting them of a problem. The county says its dispatchers did not miss any calls. They just had to go through a different process of answering and transferring.

Supervisor Jacqueline Costa said, “I really don’t think there would have been any major delays here.”

Nonetheless, internal memos show no explanation for what caused the latest technical glitches, and it’s under investigation.

To Derbin, any time with 911 phone lines down in any way is too much.

She said, “There’s no room for, ‘We sorta have it. Or, it’s almost there.’ Life and death. Lives matter.”

We also reached out to the Cleveland mayor’s office. As of late Wednesday afternoon, we had received no response.

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