People calling the county emergency service dispatch center have to use the nonemergency phone number until a damaged out-of-state phone line that rendered the 911 system in Butler and many other counties inoperable is repaired.
Leslie Osche, county commissioners chairwoman, said she was given information that a fiberoptic line in Maryland owned by CenturyLink, the company that provides service for the county 911 dispatch, was severed sometime Wednesday.
She said 911 calls from Butler County are temporarily routed through other counties to the Butler County dispatch center.
“That's a benefit of shared back up regionally,” Osche said.
Using the CodeRED public safety alert system, the county sent messages instructing people with emergencies to call 724-287-7769, the nonemergency number, until 911 is back in service, and not to call the number for nonemergency calls to keep the line open for emergencies, she said.
The county emergency services department asked all fire departments and emergency medical services to man their stations, so people can call them or go to those stations for help, said Steve Bicehouse, department director.
He said a Consolidated Communications phone line is being used to answer calls at the 911 center, and calls made from wireless phones are routed through the Mercer or Lawrence county 911 centers to the Butler County 911 center.
“It's not our equipment. The calls are just not getting to us. It's cut outside of Butler County,” Bicehouse said.
The severed line also cut 911 service in Clarion, Franklin, Cumberland, Adams, Cumberland, Bedford, Greene and Perry counties and part of Somerset and Fulton counties, he said.
“It doesn't affect the radio system. We still have the ability to tone out fire companies like we normally would,” Bicehouse said.
He said he will send a new CodeRED message and post a message on social media when the 911 line is back in service.