Newark-WABC, November 21, 2004) – An accident inside Newark’s 911 call center caused the emergency system to temporarily shut own.
Just before 6:00pm, the 911 system here in Newark went back on line. An investigation now is underway to find out why a fire suppression system was triggered here, overcoming the 911 operators working inside of the building. As of early Sunday evening, two remain hospitalized.
It started just after 2:00 p.m. Sunday. Fumes spread through the Newark Fire Communications Center. 911 operators were overcome, and had to be evacuated. Twenty one people in all were affected, ten were sent to the hospital with shortness of breath and burning eyes. Eleven were treated at the scene and released.
What caused the hazmat condition is still unclear, but the result was the 911 system in New Jersey’s largest city was crippled. All afternoon, emergency calls were routed to Jersey City. From there, they were redirected to Newark precincts, hospitals or firehouses.
Officials say in all, approximately 75 emergency calls were re-routed via Jersey City. They say citizens calling in wouldn’t have noticed a difference at all.
By evening, things were getting back to normal in Newark. Police say there were no fire calls during the time the system was down.
Incidentally, the chemical that was released was a fuel used in the fire supression system. Why it was released into the air is what is under investigation right now.
Again, two people remained hospitalized Sunday night.