Faulty Cell Tower Fouls Up 911 Calls
"You just keep on having to get into the call to find out where they're at, and then you'll know whether it's coming from the Columbia area or whether it's coming from here," said Monroe County dispatcher Julie Cullom. "That's about the only frustrating thing about about it."
The extra calls were from U.S. Cellular customers in one part of Columbia. The cell phone company blamed a faulty tower receiver downtown. Monroe County dispatchers said they've had 12 stray calls in the past two weeks.
"When you call 911 on your cell phone, it goes to the nearest tower and wherever that tower faces, then that's where your cell phone call goes," explained Shelley Havens, Monroe County 911 coordinator.
U.S. Cellular said it fixed the problem. Dispatchers said the inconvenience only took a minute to correct, but paramedics said that minute could make a big difference.
"In most emergencies, a minute to the call seems like forever," said Boone Hospital paramedic John Hog. "In cardiac emergencies, in stroke emergencies, a minute could make a world of difference between survival and not surviving."