INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County’s 911 system experienced an outage after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day due to a deluge of calls reporting celebratory gunshots.
The 911 center received more than 1,000 calls within 4-5 minutes past midnight, including 206 in a one-minute time frame, according to Marion County Sheriff’s Office Major Michael R. Hubbs.
The system went down shortly after midnight and was fully operational again around 2 a.m. Marion County’s Text-to-911 system continued to work during the interruption.
Hubbs said the county’s service carrier, AT&T, is investigating the disruption and attempting to quantify how many calls came into the center.
“There is no 911 Center in the country capable of answering such an enormous influx of emergency calls within a few minute time frame,” Hubbs said in an email.
Inbox from @IMPDnews: “The Marion County 911 phone system is experiencing an outage. The extend and duration of the outage is not yet known. In the meantime, people who need emergency services should be able to text 911 as that method of communicating appears unaffected.”— Andrew Smith (@AndrewSmithNews) January 1, 2022
Hubbs said backup systems were in place to handle large volumes of unanswered 911 calls and roll them over to surrounding 911 centers.
However, the call volume was too large for the backup 911 centers to help answer all the calls.
The 911 center dispatched 427 shots fired calls between 10 p.m.-6 a.m., Hubbs said.
That happened despite warnings from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office against firing weapons in the air during New Year’s celebrations.
The sheriff’s office also asked people to refrain from calling 911 unless there was a true emergency.
“In short, the causation of this interruption is still under investigation, however, there is no doubt that the rampant and reckless firing of a firearm into the air by many caused an onslaught of over 1,000 calls into the system within minutes,” Hubb said.
WRTV Digital Executive Producer Katie Cox contributed to this report.