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State investigating cause of 911 outage during storm

Officials said the outage lasted no more than 15 minutes and impacted at least 12 dispatch centers in the state.

PORTLAND, Maine — 911 service for the Greater Portland area is back up and running after it went offline in the midst of Monday night’s storm.

An investigation into what caused the outage is underway by the Maine Emergency Services Communication Bureau, but officials would not say whether or not it was directly related to the storm. 

“Events like this are rare and as always the system is being closely monitored,” Director Maria Jacques said.

Officials told NEWS CENTER Maine the outage lasted 15 minutes and impacted at least 12 dispatch centers. In some cases, the ripple effect was felt for hours. 

The Portland Regional Communications Center announced its outage around 10 p.m. Monday and directed callers to use other numbers temporarily. They did not notify citizens they were back online for another three hours. 

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“There was immense concern,” Portland Emergency Communications Director Andrew Dziegielewski said. "What's happening now is the state is doing their research to identify what the problem was. I have full support from them at this time, so the public should not be concerned by any stretch." 

The center receives more than 60,000 911 calls a year—10-percent of the state's annual call volume.

Dziegielewski said dispatchers were quick to act and also utilized the county's CodeRED system that sends notifications out to citizens by phone and by text if they subscribe to the service. 

"Nobody wants 911 to be down,” South Portland Fire Capt. Robb Couture said.

First responders in South Portland were busy throughout the night on calls for downed wires and other storm-related damage. 

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Couture said while the 911 outage did not have a huge impact on them Monday, it is still cause for some concern. 

"I mean, we're getting dispatched the way we'd always get dispatched," he said. "I think the bigger concern is how to let the general public know that there's a problem."

The use of social media and the  CodeRED system are integral to public safety at times like this, according to Couture.

He urged Mainers to research whether their county, city or town participates in CodeRED and to follow local social media accounts.

Officials would not say when they expect to determine the cause of the outage.