PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - When the quake hit, Maine people hit the "send" button. Cell phone networks and even some land line phone services were overwhelmed.
The problem, of course, is that phone systems can only handle so many calls at a time. And with hundreds or thousands of people instantly reaching for their cell phones to call or text, the systems were apparently overwhelmed.
But what if Tuesday night's quake had been real crisis? With emergency workers needing to connect to one another and thousands of people needing to check on family or call for help? In a real emergency phone jam ups can be serious business.
Which is why the topic came up today at this meeting of Maine's emergency management leaders. The topic had actually been on the agenda anyway, but the EMA directors say Tuesday's quake made it feel more urgent.
The state communications center in Gray had 300 calls in the first 25 minutes or so.
Emergency workers say they have several radio systems they can use as backups in a real crisis. But they say cell phone jams, in particular, will be problems for the rest of us.
Rob McAleer of Maine Emergency Management says there isn't much they can do to prevent phone jams . Planners are a talking about ways to make greater use of Facebook as a communications tool, hoping the Internet will be less vulnerable in a crisis. Beyond that, their advice is pretty low-tech: if you still have a radio -- you can at least receive information.