National Veterans Crisis Line and Homeless Call Center personnel were evacuated for four hours Tuesday following an early morning bomb threat at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. Thanks to a strategic backup plan, no calls from veterans went unanswered during the crisis.
VA Spokesperson Dan Ryan said the bomb threat was called in at 8:30 a.m. to the Homeless Call Center in Building 37 at the Canandaigua VA, on 400 Fort Hill Ave.
About 119 staff members were evacuated immediately, as the VA Police Department conducted a thorough search of the building. The Monroe County K-9 and Bomb Search units were then called in. Nothing suspicious was found by any of the teams, Ryan said.
Staff members from the Veterans Crisis Line and the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans returned to work in Building 37 shortly after 1 p.m., he said.
During the four-and-a-half-hour evacuation, calls from veterans across the nation were diverted to backup call centers, and some local staff were able to use backup phone lines on campus in another location, he said. At no time were phones left unmanned, he said.
Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 1.6 million calls and made more than 45,000 lifesaving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added an anonymous online chat service and has engaged in more than 207,700 chats.
In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to more than 32,300 texts.