70-year-old's frightening wait for help with no phone signal

WHEN a 70-year-old Kyogle woman had a devastating fall in her own home, she was forced to crawl more than 10m to the only spot on her property that had phone reception so she could call an ambulance.

Justine McKenna broke her hand in the fall, which happened on Christmas Eve last year.

"I couldn't get up because I was too injured," Ms McKenna said.

"I crawled on my back because I had to keep the injured hand out of the dirt."

"Wiggling I suppose you'd call it, wiggling along the ground."

Ms McKenna said it took her around 30 minutes after her fall to work her way into the garden to the only spot on her property, at Eden Creek, that gets phone reception.

"It's about 10m from the house," she said.

"There is no coverage in the house any more, the phone will ring but unless I come out here I can't sustain a call."

"I established a space out here which I call my telephone kiosk from where I can make calls."

According to Ms McKenna there was also a service outage on the day which made it even more difficult for her to contact emergency services.

"I gave them my address, they could hear that but then the outage kicked in and they couldn't hear me any further," she said.

"I could hear them saying 'we need more information on how to get to your house' but they couldn't hear me."

"Eventually they stopped trying to get a hold of me, so I was left lying in the dirt wondering whether I had given them enough information to the ambulance and how long should I give it before the next step... which would have been to crawl for half a kilometre to my front gate."

"I didn't know what was going to happen, I was in pain and bleeding."

Ms McKenna said she warned Telstra something like this was going to happen after she lost mobile service and internet connection in her home two years ago.

"I did complain a lot about this to Telstra, Kevin Hogan and the minister and everybody but nobody seemed to care at all," she said.

"I'm not a well woman, I really need to be able to have a working phone in the house."

In the last month Ms McKenna has changed from Telstra to Southern Phone in the hope she will receive improved services.

When The Northern Star contacted Telstra, they explained because she was no longer their customer, they could not assist, saying it was now a concern for her new provider.

But the telco encouraged its customers in the area to come forward if they were experiencing any connectivity issues.

"We would encourage customers to visit their local Telstra shop or call 13 22 00 for help in choosing and installing the right repeater or antenna for their location and needs," a Telstra spokeswoman said.

Telstra has a range of five different antennas designed to boost your connection, speak to your local shop to find out which one will best assist you.

  • Telsta Smart Antenna
  • Telstra Go Repeater
  • Low to Medium gain antennas
  • High Gain Antennas
  • Very High Gain Antennas

For more information visit, https://www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/network-coverage-extension-devices.

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