Would you let your smartphone share your location if it meant that one day you could come to a stranger's rescue?

Police released surveillance video and the 911 call Friday from a shoplifting that preceded a police shooting in Olympia, Washington.

A new statistic from Washington state illustrates a problem 911 dispatch centers throughout the Northwest grapple with. About a third of 911 calls in Washington state are mistaken.

CenturyLink Faces $2.9 Million Fine For 911 Outage

Dec 3, 2014
AP Images


CenturyLink could be fined $2.9 million by Washington State for a 911 outage earlier this year. A staff report for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission found CenturyLink failed to reroute 911 calls during a six-hour outage on April 9th and 10th.

According to the agency, the entire state lost its 911 service during the outage. Six other states lost service too, including California, Florida and Minnesota.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

In an emergency, the last thing you want to hear is, "I can't understand you." The reality is emergency dispatchers in the Northwest generally speak one language, English. But in our increasingly polyglot society, some people in distress inevitably can't communicate in English. Correspondent Tom Banse takes us inside a 911 call center to find out what happens then.

ICMA Photos / Flickr

This week, the four biggest mobile carriers met a voluntary deadline to be ready to allow consumers to text to 911. But don't try that in an emergency just yet, because 911 dispatchers in the Northwest don't have the capability to receive your text for help. The necessary upgrades are coming slowly all around the country.

Century Link Explains How 911 Call System Failed

May 1, 2014

Century Link has given the state an explanation for the 9-1-1 service outage earlier this month. 4,500 emergency calls did not go through during the outage, which hit most of the state.

The State Utilities and Transportation Commission has opened an investigation into last Thursday’s 911 emergency line outage. CenturyLink said about 4,500 calls failed to get through during the outage. The telecommunications company said a similar outage that occurred in Oregon around the same time was unrelated

Lucrezia Cuen

Some describe it as a sixth sense, others might call it magic, but whatever it is called, the fine-tuned instinct that some 911 operators develop is extraordinary. Our reporter Lucrezia Cuen takes us into the heart of an emergency response center to meet some of these 911 operators whose talents save lives.

Spokane County’s 911 staff will soon grow, in order to speed up answering time. Paige Browning reports six call receivers will join the call center in the new year.