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227 callers unable to contact emergency services early this morning due to service outage

The Emergency Call Answering Service was unable to handle calls between 1am and 2.15am.

227 CALLERS WERE unable to get through to emergency services in the early hours of this morning due to a service outage.

The Emergency Call Answering Service was unable to handle emergency calls between 1 am and 2.15 am, according to BT Communications Ireland Ltd (BTCIL), which notified the Department of Environment and Communications.

The company is contracted by the department to deliver the Emergency Call Answering Service.

It told the department that the outage affected approximately 227 callers and that gardaí subsequently followed up with callers who were impacted.

The department is now considering the ‘consequences’ of the outage under its contract with BTCIL.

The emergency call answering service is responsible for answering all 112 and 999 calls and texts, linking callers with gardaí, fire brigades, ambulances, the coast guard and air traffic control.

In 2021, the service handled more than 2.3 million calls. 

Minister of State Ossian Smyth said the department has sought a ‘detailed and comprehensive report’ from the company on the incident.

The immediate priority is to ensure there is no risk of a similar outage in the future.

Additionally, Smyth said the department will establish the circumstances that led to the outage and, in consultation with legal advisers, determine the consequences under the contract.

The current contract was signed with BTCIL in February 2018 following a competitive procurement process.

It covers a seven-year period that started in November 2018 and is due to expire in November 2025.

It includes a set of key performance indicators on the availability and quality of the service, including answering 98% of calls in less than 1.3 seconds.

A BT Ireland spokesperson attributed the outage to an “internal technical issue”.

“We quickly restored the service and can confirm the cause of the outage was not malicious in nature,” the spokesperson said.

“We liaised with Gardai, providing them with the list of callers so that they could call them directly and offer help.”

They apologised to callers who were affected by the issue and said that throughout BT’s contract with the department, it has “consistently [met] the high standards set out in the contract”.

“It is a responsibility that we take with the utmost seriousness and are working with DECC to ensure a technical error of this nature does not occur again.”

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