UNITED STATES –
Dramatically exposing a serious vulnerability in the nation’s emergency response system, millions of 911 calls overwhelmed dispatchers across the country last night after a brief outage of the video hosting platform YouTube prompted a torrent of calls.
Caught Completely Off-Guard
The Google-owned service had been down for several minutes when the calls began pouring in from anxious video viewers who didn’t know what to do.
“We typically receive about 30 calls in the hours between ten and eleven PM,” said dispatcher Olson Mevins of the Katchawa Fire and Rescue Department in Marilasa County. “Our logging software shut down after the first seven minutes of the call surge last night, so we’re not sure how many we missed, but we estimate we there were about sixteen thousand 911 calls during that time period.”
Frustrating Inability To Help Callers
“You really feel for the callers,” said dispatcher Shirley Watson. “There is a real panic in their voice when their streaming service of choice is not working.”
“We do our best to calm them down – pointing out that there have been interruptions before and the service has come back,” she said. “But people in that state of mind are generally not able to process what is happening to them.”
Homeland Security To Review Systems
In the wake of the events, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying it would schedule a full review of its policies as regards to YouTube, as well as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, with any eye toward increasing the nation’s internet video preparedness.
“Obviously the inability of the system to adequately handle this serious emergency requires a response,” the statement read. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that Americans are never again faced with terrifying hours without cat videos, makeup tutorials, episodic series, or outdated features they have seen several times before.”
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