A 36-hour telephone outage caused serious risk to those dependent on Lifeline.
Lifeline is an electronic device that a person wears on their body when living alone. It is connected to the phone line and can be deployed easily by pressing, alerting medical authorities they are in need of help.
A few years ago a census determined Penticton had a population comprised of 44 per cent of residents that are over age 50. Many of these people have to come to rely on, and feel more secure wearing this device, either as a neck or wrist band. The only drawback to its efficient use could be another electronic device we take for granted everyday, whether it is a land line, a cordless or perhaps even a more sophisticated mechanism, and that is the telephone. The telephone connection to your residence must always be operational for the Lifeline to call for assistance and the responder to return your call to answer your alert.
This caused great concern recently when only one line in an apartment building was inadvertently not reconnected. Luckily, the resident did not require the use of their Lifeline, but thanks to a caring good Samaritan neighbour the resident was found to be fine but had no phone connection for over 24 hours. The telephone provider did admit to the error of their ways but that would not have saved the person’s life if the Lifeline had been desperately needed.
It would be helpful, and should be mandatory, that the telephone provider ascertain through their records which of their customers rely on the Lifeline and ensure they have priority service in the event of an outage.
Going hand-in-hand with this issue is the recent loss of our fire dispatchers. The people knew the city, and even if the person requiring assistance did not know the specific address where they were but knew the name of the complex, apartment building, subdivision or other close landmark, the dispatcher would more than likely be invaluable to ensure help would be on the way. Let’s not lose any more valuable services in Penticton.