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Town struggles with communications, Internet

No it wasn’t terrorists attacking, or even the second coming of Christ.

But those were some of the questions asked at the Pahrump Valley Times Tuesday after residents found out how dependent they were on the modern age of cell phones and Internet service, which went down across Pahrump Valley about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.

People who have land-line telephones could dial another local land line, but not long distance. The 911 emergency system was working, provided calls to 911 were made from a land-line phone. Some Internet providers, like Idaho-based Digis Communications, were working.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Sgt. Ross Miller said an optic line was cut in the north part of Pahrump. Service is expected to be down until noon to 3 p.m. today, he said.

“Our Internet is up and running. Our local calls we’re able to make. Long distance is down, our AT&T Mobile is working,” Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall said Tuesday morning. “Our lines into Beatty and Tonopah are working and our line into dispatch down here is working.”

“We have not been advised by AT&T if a line has been cut, what the disruption to service was,” Marshall said. “Only speaking for the sheriff’s office, not fire or the other ones, our local lines are up and in service. The big problem is going to be anybody that relies on cell services. A lot of people don’t have land lines in their home, they have cell phones. Depending on what service you have, you might not be able to call us.”

Recent studies show one in four Americans now rely totally on cell phones for telephone service.

KNYE-FM radio host Karen Jackson told listeners not to call 911 inquiring about the phone and Internet outage.

The courts were in session, Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Kimberly Wanker was hearing a jury trial Tuesday afternoon.

Bank of America was closed. A sign on the door referred customers to a location at 4112 Blue Diamond Rd. in Las Vegas.

The lobby at Nevada State Bank was closed, but a drive-through teller was open for limited transactions, like withdrawals up to $500 with appropriate identification.

“We can take some deposits and we can give a limited amount of cash out,” Nevada State Banker teller Ashley Webb said.

Customers cursed at automatic teller machines that weren’t working. Receptionists and secretaries sat idly looking for something to do.

Kelly Adams, chief executive officer of Desert View Hospital, said it’s not an emergency, the power isn’t out and the clinic isn’t flooded.

“So far business is moving forward as scheduled,” Adams said.

But he said patients in non-emergency situations are being held up on transfers to Las Vegas facilities because they can’t transfer the paperwork.

“We are rescheduling some imaging procedures. We met with our department managers twice this morning,” Adams said. “This is not an emergency, this is good, scheduled communications with our department managers.”

“We have rescheduled procedures like mammographies, other outpatient procedures. We have a technologist but we go through imaging that is very advanced,” Adams said.

The hospital was also having trouble taking credit cards he said, and lab reports can’t be accessed off the Internet.

“Patient safety is moving forward, there’s no safety issue, power issues, if it lasts a few hours we’re going to have to send a runner into Vegas to place our orders,” Adams said. “The clinics are up and running, we’re in touch with (Pahrump Fire) Chief Lewis and Pahrump Fire, everything is running normal, the ER is running normal.”

A member of a Pinnacle Wireless crew working on a T-Mobile LTE upgrade at a cell phone tower on Gamebird and Homestead Road said a construction crew working on the highway struck a trunk line.

Steve Huscher, with InView Communications, in charge of AT&T public relations, said, “due to another company’s fiber cut, some AT&T customers in the Pahrump area may be experiencing issues with their wireless and wireline service. As the other company works to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, we apologize for this inconvenience to AT&T customers.”

Some people were visiting cellular phone company representatives in Pahrump trying to get answers.

“We probably had about 400, 500 people come in,” said Summer Dispensa, an AT&T wireless consultant at the Pahrump store.

Big businesses like Albertson’s Supermarket and Walmart were able to process debit and credit card transactions. Motorists were able to use their credit and debit cards at the gas pumps at the Terrible Herbst Country Store on Highway 160 and Calvada Boulevard. The only thing a teller said wasn’t working was the food stamp transactions.

“We don’t have Internet, we are getting local calls that are on a land line, cellular communication doesn’t work. We understand that T-Mobile is working,” Valley Electric Association’s Executive Chief Operating Officer Rick Eckert said.

“Our members don’t have Internet access so it’s hard for them to use that medium to pay their bill. We’re taking that into account.”

VEA members could stop in the office to pay a bill, he said.

Government meetings went on as usual. A Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Committee meeting scheduled at 1 p.m. Tuesday was recorded on the Granicus web system, but viewers won’t be able to watch the meeting on the Internet until the connections are restored.

An email from the county information technology (IT) department said AT&T, Verizon and Sprint cellular phone service was down. Digis Internet service was still working because they don’t use AT&T, the county IT department said.

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