UPDATE: Hamilton Co. 911 service restored to Verizon customers
Service has been restored, but dispatchers worry there may be others without the ability to call for help.
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) – Wednesday night, 911 cell phone service has been restored to two Hamilton County neighborhoods.
Drivers passing through those two pockets could make calls to anyone but 911 for nearly 24 hours.
Verizon wireless: "Your call cannot be completed as dialed."
It's a message one Hamilton County deputy received, while responding to a call Tuesday.
"He had tried to call 911 and there was no answer," says Jeff Carney.
Jeff Carney, who overseas operations at Hamilton County's 911 center, says his technicians linked the problem to a Verizon cell tower not functioning properly.
He says the area on Signal Mountain wasn't the only one where Verizon customers were without 911 service.
Nearly eight miles from the first outage, Verizon customers in Red Bank were also without the ability to call 911.
"The danger is that you only have a cell phone, you're traveling, and you dial 911 and the call doesn't come through," says Carney.
Wednesday afternoon, service was restored to those areas, but Carney wonders how many others may be without service.
"These are so small and so diverse from each other," Carney says. "One is on Signal Mountain and one is over in Red Bank."
"I'm sure there are probably some other small pockets, but they are just so small and probably not that populated," Carney adds. "Unless you're passing through it or happen to be right in it, it's not going to affect you."
Carney says it would be impossible for the 911 center to make test calls for all providers, in all neighborhoods.
He says that might be a job better left to providers like Verizon, which channel 3 attempted to reach for comment.
The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board is now working with Verizon to investigate what led to the outages, and to ensure no deputy or citizen makes a call in a crisis only to hear this: "your call cannot be completed."
During the outage, the 911 center suggested callers in the affected areas call in on a land line, something a lot of people don't have these days.
More than 80% of the calls the Hamilton County 911 center receives are made on cell phones.
Officials say all cell phone users should store non-emergency numbers in their phones.
You can usually find them on your county's website.
If your 911 service goes out, you can still reach a dispatcher.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.