Emergency number failed during Svalbard avalanche

It was periodically impossible to reach Longyearbyen hospital on telephone on February 21, the day of the last major avalanche. The reasons for this were an internal portable phone and an internal hospital course. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The 113 emergency number as well as the regular phone number of Longyearbyen hospital were periodically impossible to reach during the last avalanche in the town. Reason: Courses and a portable phone.


The 113 emergency number as well as the regular phone number of Longyearbyen hospital were periodically impossible to reach during the last avalanche in the town. Reason: Courses and a portable phone.

Both the Svalbard governor’s office and civilians had major difficulties reaching anyone at the Longyearbyen hospital on the day of the last big avalanche.

Portable outside reach

Neither the 113 emergency number nor the hospital’s number responded, or calls were interrupted. The Svalbard Governor’s office confirms this to High North News.

The reason for this, according to information High North News possesses, was that the emergency number was redirected to a portable phone located on the hospital premises. This phone lacks network connection in parts of the building.

Busy with course

- The portable phone has for brief periods been located in a part of the building where network coverage is insufficient. We were not aware of this. We are now making sure that all cordless phones have sufficient network coverage all the time, Aksel Bilicz, Department Manager at Longyearbyen hospital says.

The reason for the redirection of the phone was that the entire hospital staff was busy attending a catastrophe course organized by UNN (the Tromsø University Hospital) and Mads Gilbert on that day.

Appeared to be a technical error

The Svalbard Governor’s office says they too had problems reaching the hospital on the day in question.

- We could not get hold of anyone on 113, so we attempted the regular number. The call was then answered, but interrupted, and it appeared to be a technical error. We got in touch with the hospital through a different number and notified them of the potential error, the Governor’s office says to HNN.

Will be replaced

Telenor Svalbard does not supply telephone solutions for Longyearbyen hospital. – All phones to the hospital are routed through UNN, Press Officer Per Aril Meling of Telenor Norway says.

- The Technic Operations Department of UNN states that the wireless telephone network of Longyearbyen hospital is to be replaced during the spring of 2017, says Press Officer Marit Einejord of UNN to HNN.





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