Severed cable source of 911 disruption

By Lew K. Cohn
Managing Editor
The Highlander
For the fourth time this year, 911, landline and cell phone service in Burnet County was disrupted, causing emergency first responders to put workarounds into place to be able to serve county residents.
Burnet County Sheriff's Capt. Ricky Bindseil said a private contractor working for AT&T cut a fiber optic cable Tuesday while boring holes for utility poles, which disconnected the county's 911 service capabilities and shut down the department's landline phones.
“This is the third time a cable has been cut this year,” Bindseil said. “During those instances, our 911 service, which is maintained by CAPCOG (Capital Area Council of Governments) in Austin, is automatically rerouted to either the Williamson County Sheriff's Office or the Marble Falls Police Department and then are relayed to us by radio.
“When calls are rerouted like that, it delays our response by maybe a minute or so. It doesn't delay communications completely or cause a public safety hazard for any length of time.”
Bindseil said the department had a total of about 10 911 calls that had to be redirected to other agencies Tuesday. Of those calls, only one was considered a “major” emergency — a structure fire at Camp Champions near Highland Haven.
“We have been through this so many times now that we have been getting the kinks out of using the workaround,” Bindseil said. “We would certainly be happy if there was a way to stop it from happening.”
AT&T crews repaired the fiber optics cable and restored service to Burnet County at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. A similar situation occurred May 26, when cable fiber was cut, also along Texas 29 east of Burnet.

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