The El Centro Fire Department is advising AT&T residential and business accounts in the northwest part of the City of El Centro of a phone and internet service outage caused by the vandalism of telecommunications equipment, which caused a significant failure and — in some cases — has interrupted access to the 911 system. Areas affected by the outage include all areas west of Imperial Avenue to La Brucherie Rd and north of Pico Avenue to the city limits line., according to the press release.

Anyone calling 911 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. 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!" If you use a wireless phone or another type of mobile device, make sure 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."

If you attempt 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 you 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 or non-urgent matters. Due to the outage, the El Centro Fire Department Headquarters is currently affected by the telephone service outage.

Further information releases related to the situation will be shared as AT&T updates information.

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