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Guest Opinion: A Need for Better Cell Service

  • As a 40+ year veteran of Emergency Services work, I know that the essence of the system is effective communication. This point was brought home in a very dramatic and sad way a couple months ago. A car driven by an elderly gentleman went off the road just above mile marker 49 on Highway 21. A passerby saw him and went to try to assist him.
    For whatever reason, the gentleman refused a ride to Idaho City, and the passerby was forced to drive all the way back to the City to get help. Not being familiar with the area, it took a total of almost 1 hour for him to drive and find the Sheriff’s Office. A deputy and EBAC were dispatched. The Deputy was about 30 minutes away, and between him and the Ambulance they were unable to find the incident.
    The following day, the same person saw that nothing had been done and again reported the incident. Deputies and ambulance personnel, along with Idaho City Fire responded only find that the gentleman had expired. Please understand, there is no blame to place here, all involved did everything they could to assist. The sad truth is that because of the lack of power lines and telephone lines, this gentleman may have died needlessly.
    If there had been some way to contact Emergency Services directly from the location, at least an hour would have been saved in response time. Would that have made the difference? We simply do not know, but this we can be sure of, he most certainly would have had a better chance. This incident, along with others, weighs heavily on my mind.
    You may ask, “What can we do?” there are solutions if we all, the Emergency Services providers, Emergency Managers, County Commissioners and the public get involved. After some research, I believe the most effective and economical way to improve this would be to band together and ask, no, demand that one or more cell towers be placed to eliminate the numerous dead spots in our County. This would not only help to prevent tragedies such as I have described, but make life easier for the everyday affairs of our citizens.
    There are other ways, but at first look, it appears they are more costly. There are solar powered Emergency Phone Stations that offer several types of communication, such as telephone, (requiring lines to be strung) and radio communication in two forms. One radio system requires a building within so many feet; the other could tie into our existing radio system.
    The bottom line here is WE need to do something. In that light I am proposing a meeting to be held with representatives of all the various groups involved in making this a reality. The purpose would be to explore all the possibilities, come up with a plan of action, and implement that plan. Let us all join in an effort to reduce the tragedies that occur in our County.
    Peter Scarborough – Idaho City Fire Department

3 Comments on Guest Opinion: A Need for Better Cell Service

  1. There is a system currently in place that can do what cell phones do. It is called ham radio. It requires a no code test and application fee of about $20. Once licensed, the repeater at Pilot Peak covers most of Boise county. A radio can be purchased new for $50 to $500 that can access the repeater. People are spending over $500 for smartphones now!

  2. Bill Augsburger // December 20, 2016 at 6:23 pm //

    Has anyone asked the cell providers if they would put towers up? I heard rumors that they have offered in the past but people objected for some reason..we need at least two towers in Boise County…

    • Many people want great cell service but then take on the voice of “not in my backyard”. Seen that happen at P&Z meetings. The cell companies say there is not enough population yet to be cost effective.

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