Report: Metro region’s 911 system overloaded during recent unrest

An internal report completed by the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board lays out significant 911 issues during recent civil unrest and rioting in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The MESB assists every 911 dispatch center in the seven-county metro area.

In the report, the MESB said during the May unrest, after the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police, 911 dispatchers were overwhelmed with calls and "this resulted in some callers not getting through to ECC telecommunications while experiencing long ring-no answer times, as well as busy signals."

The report also stated "953 calls presented to the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center and the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center during a 60-minute period on Sunday, May 31, the on-duty staff could only answer 80-percent of those calls."

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It also said, "some wireless 911 calls were rerouted to the wrong Emergency Communications Centers because the system was too saturated."

Dana Wahlberg, executive director of the state’s Emergency Communications Network, told KSTP the system was overwhelmed, but the state is currently testing new 911 technology that could help in major events down the road.

"We are currently working on some things in southeastern Minnesota and testing them," Wahlberg said. "Each 911 dispatch center is unique and is run a little differently than others and we have to make sure any new technology we introduce is compatible with the needs of that individual emergency communications center."