A contest requiring people to continually call in to a radio station in St. John’s tied-up phone lines at Eastern Health facilities Thursday morning and forced the health authority to issue a message to staff.
In an e-mail to The Telegram, a spokeswoman for Eastern Health said the issue impacted facilities in St. John’s for approximately an hour and a half. She said intermittent landline phone service was not a problem unique to Eastern Health and was in fact experienced throughout the city.
Eastern Health’s service provider advised the issue did originate from too many people trying to use the phone simultaneously. Once the health authority was aware of the problem, an electronic message was issued to staff asking them to stop using the phones to enter the radio contest.
She said ambulance services dealt with intermittent landline service, but added there was no known impact on patient care or employees. Radio communication between ambulances, emergency departments, and the 911 service was not affected.
The spokeswoman said the matter is being treated “very seriously” in light of the fact blocked phone lines can potentially endanger a person’s life.
According to Eastern Health, policies and protocols are in place relating to the use of communication devices at work for personal use.
One source told The Telegram the same problem occurred last week, but the spokeswoman said she was not aware of a similar incident occurring.