Antrim first responders get a boost from Route 9 cell service expansion

  • Antrim Fire Department Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Antrim Fire Department Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/6/2021 1:49:17 PM

Until three weeks ago, the lack of cellular service on Route 9 in Antrim was a complicating factor in responding to emergencies, Fire Chief Marshall Gale said. Witnesses to crashes on the major thoroughfare would regularly have to drive to Hillsborough in order to report it, he said. An AT&T tower recently came online, though, and first responders as well as the general public are reaping the benefits.

The dead zone caused a critical delay between witnessing an accident and reporting it, Gale said, but sometimes it also made it harder to locate the emergency. “If we got a cell call for an emergency on Route 9, we had to figure plus or minus five miles,” he said, since it was common for callers to misreport accident locations after driving to service. Additionally, Antrim’s ambulance service has a cardiac monitor that communicates directly with the hospital while en route, Gale said. There are “much better” patient outcomes when the ambulance can maintain a connection all the way to the hospital, he said.

The tower, run by AT&T, was installed in town after about a year of applications and permitting, Gale said, and is hosting other carriers, such as USCellular. The change was evident to Gale himself, who received a pleasant surprise a couple weeks ago when his cell phone rang while maple sugaring – in a place off Clinton Road where he previously needed to stand on the roof of the sugar house to get service, he said.

The new tower will help anyone with a cell phone on Route 9 in an emergency, Gale said. 911 calls always go through regardless of what carrier a phone has, even for phones that aren’t linked to any carrier, Gale said, but a basic level of some company’s cell service is necessary for a call to go through. In spots with absolutely no cell service, only a satellite phone can summon emergency services, he said.  Sometimes, a text to 911 will go through if service is too low to complete a call, he said.

 


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