New technology takes over when communication fails during storms - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

New technology takes over when communication fails during storms

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"Communications, everything failed in the county,” Chief Perrien said. "Communications, everything failed in the county,” Chief Perrien said.
SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

When disaster struck Sunday afternoon, Scott County first responders found themselves in a challenging scenario.

The dispatch center had lost power and crews had no way to know where to go, but some new technology kicked in when all else failed. It allowed firefighters to get to those in need, even though radio communication was lost.

Jeanne Wallace, a Scott County resident, said within minutes of climbing out of her storm cellar on Sunday afternoon, she saw firefighters and emergency personnel on scene. Scott County Rural Fire Chief Jeremy Perrien said that might not have been possible if it weren't for the new system that sends text messages to every firefighter.

"Communications, everything failed in the county," Chief Perrien said.

Dispatch was getting lots of calls.

"We had some reports of kids trapped in storm cellars, houses overturned, houses in the roadways," Chief Perrien said.

However, dispatchers had no way to tell emergency personnel where to go.

"The pagers weren't working, the radios weren't working," Chief Perrien said.

That's when the new texting technology became the only efficient way to send help.

"I don't want to say that if somebody needed help that we never would have responded, but I think it's pretty safe to say without this system everything definitely would have been delayed a lot more than what it was, "Chief Perrien said. "I was able to look at this on the on duty and see who was already assigned, who was now assigned. Yeah, this really saved us."

Every Scott County Rural firefighter is in the system, they can access the application on their smart phones and be looped into text alerts. The messages tell firefighters where the emergency is located and when to respond.

After the storms passed, people say they were glad to see help had arrived so quickly.

"They had their big truck parked down here on the highway and they walked around to make sure everyone was out of their homes and see if anyone was injured or if there was anything they could do to help anyone," Wallace said.

Perrien said with the new system firefighters will get their radio and pager messages as well as text messages right to their phones.

"I don't want to say that if somebody needed help that we never would have responded, but I think it's pretty safe to say without this system everything definitely would have been delayed a lot more than what it was," he said.

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