A LOCKINGTON resident was forced to walk a block in Wednesday’s 45C heat to call an ambulance after Telstra landlines and mobiles went down for two days.
Residents and businesses were plunged into the dark ages, with reports of service going down on Wednesday morning due to a damaged cable and not being restored until Thursday night, affecting calls and internet in the area.
The Lockington and District Bush Nursing Centre was disconnected from the outside world as only a few phone calls were coming in and no internet or fax services were working and administration officer Carolyn Eade said the outage could have proved fatal for at-risk residents in an emergency.
“We had no way of communicating with the outside world for medical communications, no hospitals, no GPs,” she said.
“Medically, it was an impending disaster. We had no way to phone for urgent medication, there was no way for us to contact our nurse if we needed to and then she had no way of contacting us if it was an emergency.”
Ms Eade said it was also concerning for residents who had emergency communications systems such as Telstra’s Priority Assist, a service available to Telstra customers who are living at home and have a diagnosed life threatening medical condition, as residents reported it was not working.
Around town it wasn’t as life-threatening, but more a threat to traders’ livelihoods as EFTPOS and phone lines were down.
The Lockington Community Bank was closed for two days as staff were unable to process transactions or use systems while across the road at Foodworks it was cash-only for Wednesday.
Foodworks owners Ged and Breanna Giddings said their business was thrown into disarray as suppliers couldn’t call and customers were creating accounts as they couldn’t pay by card.
“We took that load on and so we’re relying on people to come back and pay for their groceries,” Ged said.
While Mr Giddings expressed no concern at the honesty of shoppers, he couldn’t believe it was the only way to operate for a day.
‘‘On Wednesday I walked over to the ice-cream shop to use his Optus WiFi so I could place some of our orders.”
After one day of trading with no internet or phones, Mr Giddings had enough, and opened an Optus sim from a display rack near the registers.
“It’s a headache you don’t need and it’s frustrating for customers — but our customers were very understanding,” he said.
“We used an employee’s mobile, who is on the Optus network, to phone out our product orders.
“Breanna, who is away with the kids, was getting more shop calls than I was, and I was calling her (using the Optus WiFi) through Snapchat.
“It was a circus.”
Telstra said the cause of the outage was damage to a cable and said due to the complex nature of the repair work, a specialist crew was brought in to restore service.