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Pitkin, Garfield Counties, CenturyLink working on 911 backup system

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Pitkin and Garfield Counties are trying to figure out why 911 systems went down during a communications blackout last week.Pitkin County Emergency Dispatch Director Bruce Romero wants answers on a couple of issues. First, why wasn’t it possible to at least call 911?

“Generally CenturyLink would have actual backup systems,” said Romero Tuesday. “Not only other lines in the ground but microwave systems that could do a back up. And for some reason that didn’t work.”

Landline, cell phone, and internet services went dark last Tuesday in the mid and upper Roaring Fork Valley. Those were restored 16 hours later. Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority is also looking into the issue, as well as back up options for cell service.

A representative for CenturyLink told Aspen Public Radio on Tuesday that the company does have a microwave system for the Aspen and Basalt areas and is looking at how to increase that option. CenturyLink called the Roaring Fork Valley a “difficult to serve,” but important, area.

During the outage, Pitkin County also had a glitch with its emergency messaging service. The Pitkin Alert system mistakenly sent the same messages multiple times to subscribers. The problem was not caused by the blackout. Garfield County carries the same alert system, but chose not to send out emergency messages during the incident.

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