By Craig Sterrett
Many communities in North Central Illinois served by Frontier Communications (formerly Verizon) for phone service were having problems with emergency 911 dispatch systems Wednesday afternoon.
As a result, many fire departments sent personnel to fire stations to man “Knox boxes,” which ring when people punch in 911.
“We just have to man a direct line,” Sublette fire Lt. Nick Dinges said, adding that another firefighter actually was at the Sublette station. “Instead of a call going through the 911 center, it goes directly to the fire department.”
Standard fire chief Mike Skowera said since part of the Standard fire district has 339- phone prefixes, 911 calls from those would ring at the Granville fire station. From there, the Granville station would radio PutnamCounty dispatcher to keep them informed while also responding if necessary.
Numbers with 882- prefixes would be answered in McNabb, and so on. Skowera said part of the Standard district is handled by La Salle County dispatchers, who were not experiencing problems.
Many parts of Bureau County and Lee County were dealing with the problem and using the less-automated method of receiving 911 calls. Callers directly to the Putnam County sheriff’s office received messages such as “all circuits are busy.”
In Marshall County, Henry was experiencing difficulties, and in La Salle County, the sheriff’s office was assisting Mendota and northern La Salle County emergency personnel were waiting for any local 911 calls.