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mobile phone reception could cost lives, warns hovercraft group
crewmembers at Burnham-On-Sea's rescue hovercraft fear lives could
be put at risk because of a sudden drop in mobile phone reception
across the town.
SMS pager system is used to muster shore-helpers and crew to launch
the life-saving craft - but the decommissioning of a local phone
transmitter in the last fortnight has meant some messages are
not getting through or being delayed by crucial minutes.
Alan Miller, chairman of BARB, the group that runs Burnham-On-Sea's
rescue hovercraft, said: "The reception signal for O2 phone
users has dropped so significantly across Burnham that many crew
members are complaining that pages are just not getting through."
"So far this has only meant that crewmembers have missed
training exercises or turned up late - but we all know that it's
only a matter of time before there's a real incident when the
crew will need to be alerted as quickly as possible in order to
launch the hovercraft."
concern comes after a mobile phone transmitter at Pepperall Road,
Highbridge was decommissioned without advance warning being issued
to local emergency services. A
second transmitter some miles away from Burnham in East Brent
is only providing weak signals across the town.
"Mobile phone companies should fully consider these kind
of life-saving issues and notify key users such as emergency rescue
groups well in advance of decommissioning," said Mr Miller.
Response times are often a highly critical factor when dealing
with mud rescue incidents - and this has been seen many times
during the last year when the Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft has
helped or rescued more than 60 people along the Somerset coast.
BARB has lodged its concerns with O2 and has been told that a
new replacement transmitter will be erected in the area soon.
over poor mobile phone reception
Burnham-On-Sea Hovercraft Web site