EL CENTRO -- The El Centro Fire Department is advising that a phone and internet service outage impacting AT&T residential and business accounts in the northwest part of the city is expected to last through the morning.
The service outage was reportedly caused by the vandalism of telecommunications equipment, which caused a significant failure and, in some cases has interrupted access to the 911 system, ECFD reported.
Areas affected by the outage include all areas west of Imperial Avenue to La Brucherie Road and north of Pico Avenue to the city limits line at Threshill Road.
Anyone calling 9-1-1 from a conventional telecommunications connection (landline) or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone within the affected area should be aware that if they receive a fast busy signal, an alternate method to contact 911 should be used, the Fire Department reported.
Alternative means of contacting emergency services include cellphone voice-based 911 and text-to-911 services.
The public is encouraged to "Call if you can; Text if you can't!" Those using a wireless phone or another type of mobile device, are encouraged to do the following in an emergency:
1. Always contact 911 by making a voice call if you can.
2. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-disabled and your TTY or telecommunications relay service is not accessible due to the outage:
a. Open a new text message in your phone's messaging app
b. Enter 911 as the recipient
c. Type your message, and
d. Hit "send."
Those attempting to send a text-to-911 where the service is not available, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic "bounce-back" message that will advise callers to contact emergency services by another means.
Additionally, the El Centro Police and Fire Dispatch Center can be reached at (760) 352-2111 to report non-emergency/non-urgent matters. Due to the outage, the El Centro Fire Department Headquarters are currently affected by the telephone service outage.
Additional information related to this situation will be shared as AT&T releases information.