D.C. Council members have received dialing cards to prioritize their calls when phone lines jam during emergencies.
Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans said providing government officials with priority phone access during emergencies ensures they will be able to share information with the community in a timely manner.
The council members received the cards after the 5.9-magnitude earthquake rattled the city Aug. 23.
“The ability to communicate in this way during emergencies is common in many large cities, and having this ability is important for public safety purposes,” Evans said.
Reports surfaced last week that council members received the cards.
“This does not bump any phone call that is going on; it just moves the authorized user up to the front of the queue,” National Communications System spokesman Steve Barrett said.
Barrett said the program has a 95-percent success rate for pushing calls through. The rate is measured every time phone lines are extremely congested.
The Government Emergency Telecommunications Service, under the Department of Homeland Security, began the priority phone access system in 2001. Users must enter their PIN numbers after dialing with the card, and then are required to enter the emergency number to complete a call.