Lorain County commissioners are defending the county 911 system after an overnight outage prompted social media rumors on the source of the problem.
Lorain County Administrator Jim Cordes said a defective Windstream transponder on Third Street in Elyria was the source of the problem and the core infrastructure of the 911 system is intact.
It was unfortunate some misinformation was spreading in the community after the outage occurred sometime between 11 p.m., Aug. 4, and midnight Aug. 5, which caused problems with receiving calls from Verizon, Cordes said.
“At no time was our 911 operating center down,” he said. “We rely upon what comes to us; we do not receive phone calls directly, they’re sent to us.
“I would much liken it to when you go buy yourself a brand new TV and you bring it home and you plug the cable in and you don’t have any signal because the cable company is down or a piece of their equipment is broken.”
Cordes said Lorain County has a dedicated 911 service and he reminded the community there are multiple redundancies and backup built in to ensure continued operation.
However, as technology continues to evolve quickly, getting all equipment to work with outside systems is something the county will continue to grapple with, he said.
Commissioner Matt Lundy called social media posts regarding the outage are “ugly lies.”
“I can’t say enough about how important it is, when you’re either in a leadership role, or you’ve got a voice in the community or if you even have a Facebook page,” Lundy said. “You know how important it is to do good things in your community and not to instill fear or panic or spread rumors, or spread, quite frankly ugly lies.
“And sometimes people just want to race off to Facebook and say untruths. Let’s just call them lies, because they feel that there’s some advantage to doing that.
“The reality is that, you know, people who want to be responsible members of this community, actually get the facts before they start just blurting things off.”
Michelle Hung, a North Ridgeville Council-at-Large member and current Republican candidate for county commissioner, responded to the outage, sharing a screenshot from the Avon Lake Fire Department on her official Facebook campaign page, calling the situation into question.
The page said, “UPDATE: lines back up. Lorain County 911 service is down again. Did another disgruntled employee (allegedly) break in to sabotage AGAIN, or is this a new incident to add to the many others in the past 2 years. It needs to be PERMANENTLY FIXED, not a band-aid election year fix. Please call your local PD for service if needed.”
Lundy, commenting after the meeting, said it was important for the community to understand the inner workings of the 911 system and said the commissioners constantly are fighting back against misinformation, alluding to another recent 911 system outage caused by a problem in Twinsburg.
Wanting to make sure public is getting the right information, Lundy called it an insult to the hard-working Lorain County 911 center employees when somebody tries to paint a picture that they don’t have a good operation.
“That’s simply not true and they should know better,” he said.
Commissioner Sharon Sweda agreed.
“I think that it’s unfortunate that we have folks who want to stir discontent with a team that’s doing a good job over there,” Sweda said. “I know that if my internet goes down, if I don’t have cable, I don’t pitch my TV and my computers because I blame them.
“And to have armchair quarterbacks, causing the insults against the team that’s so hard working, armchair quarterbacks who have probably never stepped foot in the center and even understand, it is very disconcerting.”
Reached for comment, Michelle Hung said while she did not hear the discussion, she encouraged the commissioners to focus on fixing the issues with 911.
“I have met with and continue to meet with fire and police officials regarding the issues they are facing at 911. My suggestion to the commissioners is stop monitoring Facebook posts and to sit down with the police and fire chiefs, and the county dispatchers to address the growing list of problems at 911,” Hung said.