Repeated failures in 911 telephone service in the Washington, D.C., region demonstrate the need for stronger federal oversight of emergency systems nationwide, some federal lawmakers said this week, perhaps requiring new regulation from the Federal Communications Commission, the Washington Post reports. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.) and two other House Democrats said the FCC needs to ensure that improvements are made in the commercial services that route calls to government-run answering centers in light of new reports of 911 outages.
Verizon Communications, which routes 911 calls in 12 states and much of the Washington area, in particular, needs to fix flaws in its system, Connolly said.”They have had their opportunity to do this voluntarily, and they have shirked that opportunity at every turn,” Connolly said of Verizon. “To protect the public, we very clearly need the FCC. This is a life-and-death situation. If someone has a heart attack, 911 has got to work,” he said. Connolly cited a Washington Post analysis that the region's 911 emergency network has suffered at least 11 outages since July 2010, at times leaving residents who rushed to report life-threatening injuries instead listening to busy signals.