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911 call system to soon change following dropped call issues

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BATON ROUGE - A call to 911 can be the difference between life or death.

Earlier this month dozens of emergency calls were dropped and officials blame AT&T.

"I can't put an apology large enough for this, but again, it was a complex issue," a representative with AT&T said to the Board of Commissioners of East Baton Rouge Communications District on Tuesday.

The representative apologizing on an issue three weeks ago, when hundreds of 911 calls were dropped for days. Dispatchers say they would try to call the person back, but if that person was no longer able to answer, major issues would arise. AT&T says it was a complex problem to fix.

"What made this issue take as long as it did to get resolved. It had to be sectionalized. There was nothing with in the network that says this was a hard core outage," the representative said.

AT&T, and the 911 board say they still don't know what exactly went wrong, but the board on Tuesday were updated on the plans for a new phone system. The hope is that problems like dropped calls won't happen again.

"NGA 911 is a cloud based solution, that cloud based solution will mitigate any issue like we were having with the AT&T system. The AT&T system, is still based off an old copper system," Jim Verlander, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Communications District said.

Verlander added, "Hopefully that will be set up by the end of the year."

The board voted to create a back-up 911 center. That would be fully equipped and ready to go in case of an emergency. 

"If that building goes down, a lightning strike, a flood, they would be able to immediately pick up operations at this new facility," Verlander said.

Currently, dispatchers are able to go mobile, but the back up center would make things more efficient for all.

All 911 lines are operating without any issues.

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