Fatal cardiac arrest during Telstra outage

Triple-0 callers were left in the dark due to a Telstra outage. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

Telstra boss Vicki Brady has apologised to the family of a Melbourne person who died during a “technical incident” that affected triple-0 services for more than an hour.

Multiple states were affected during Friday morning’s outage, which impacted 148 of nearly 500 calls between 3.30am and 5am.

In one case, a person suffering a cardiac arrest was unable to have their call immediately connected to Ambulance Victoria and was found dead by paramedics.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Brady shared her “deepest apology” to the family and anyone who was impacted by the incident.

Telstra CEO Vicki Brady
Telstra chief executive Vicki Brady apologised to the family of the person who died after their call was unable to be directly connected to Ambulance Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Ascui

She said the telco giant would be investigating whether there were any “unacceptable” delays in forwarding the person’s call.

“Can I just first offer my deepest apologies to the family of that person and to anyone who was impacted in the 90 minutes,” she said.

“At this stage we’re in the very early stages of the investigation.

“I haven’t yet had a chance, and it’s not appropriate yet to reach out to that family, but clearly we don’t yet understand how much the delay was and how much that impacted.”

During Friday’s glitch, back-up teams were forced to submit call details manually to emergency services who then returned the calls. Telstra has yet to confirm how many states and/or territories were affected by the glitch, which will be investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

A Triple Zero Victoria spokesman said they were told by Telstra that the outage lasted approximately between 3.30am and 4.40am.

The agency was “advised it was unable to transfer triple-0 calls to response agencies across multiple states, including Victoria”.

“Throughout the disruption, Telstra provided Triple Zero Victoria with the details of callers who were responded to as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Callers were unable to be connected to emergency services in Victoria on Friday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Jeremy Piper

In NSW, early reports from emergency service agencies suggested no triple-0 calls were missed, and calls for service were actioned as normal.

NSW Ambulance was able to continue to receive and process triple-0 calls.

There were no disruptions to Fire Rescue NSW’s automatic fire alarm systems, and a Telstra operator was able to phone three jobs directly through to FRNSW.

A NSW Police spokesperson said the triple-0 command line interface (CLI) function that captures the caller’s number wasn’t accessible between 3.40am and 5am.

However, callers could still get through to the triple-0 operators and police could still respond to jobs.

The spokesman said NSW Police was not aware of any issues stemming from the outage and the situation was now resolved.

Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the ACMA would be undertaking an initial assessment of “Telstra’s compliance with its regulatory obligations”.

She also said the government was “deeply saddened” by the death of the impacted triple-0 caller.

“We are deeply saddened and our thoughts are with their family and friends,” she said.

“We have sought information from Telstra, who is the designated emergency call person, to understand the full impact of the disruption.

“The ACMA will continue its inquiries on this point.”