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 10. Phone Failures

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Telephone systems fail for a number of reasons.
Soemtimes it is due to widespread emergencies and you
can expect severe limitations. The Edmonton Tornado of
1987 shut down some of the phones for over a week –
although only a small part of the system was actually
affected. Hundreds of thousands of people trying to
phone into an affected region tie up all the long distance

Telephone failures are more common than you might
think and occur for a wide number of reasons. In
Vancouver, the police don’t use cell phones at the end of
the Celebration of Light fireworks festival because of the
tens of thousands of people trying to phone for cabs,
family or to arrange meetings. Telephone systems
regularly over-load when concert tickets go on sale for the
world’s hottest bands. Amateur radio is often called in to
assist when the land lines go down. Here are some

01/06 - California Amateurs provide emergency hospital
communications. ( ARNewsline via QNEWS)

Members of California's Glendale Emergency Amateur
Radio Service provided communications at Glendale
Memorial Hospital after a construction accident took down
the hospital phone system. With the lives of patients
hanging in the balance, the Glendale Emergency Amateur
Radio Service was quick to respond.

Incoming calls were routed to a bank of telephones set up
in the Emergency Operations Centre at a local Chapter of
the American Red Cross. As the phone company worked
to repair the break, Amateur Radio operators, stationed at
the EOC and at critical areas inside the hospital spent the
better part of the day handling calls for doctors, nurses and
other staff members using 2 meter and 70 cm repeaters.

In all, more than twenty hams participated in the 10-hour
emergency telephone outage communications emergency.

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 10. Phone Failures

Members of the Stafford County, Virginia, Amateur Radio
Emergency Service sprang into action the evening of July
27 after the county's 911 Center lost all incoming
telephone trunks. The telephone company re-routed
incoming 911 calls to a local high school.

Stafford County's Emergency Communications Director
deployed two dispatchers to take calls at the school and
alerted the Stafford County Amateur Radio Association to
assist in passing message traffic to the 911 Center. Hams
activated an emergency net on the Stafford 2-meter
repeater to relay 911 traffic between the high school and
the 911 Center, where ham gear is permanently installed.
With another radio set up at the school, the hams were
prepared to relay call information to the 911 Center.

The telephone switch was brought back on               line
approximately 90 minutes after the disruption began.

--Emmett Price, K3EP ARRL: "In Brief", 1 August 2001

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