Downed phone lines cause head aches for residents, workers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Downed phone lines cause head aches for residents, emergency workers

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SEQUATCHIE COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- The busy tone is what David Smartt heard when he tried to call his mom Tuesday morning.

Usually she is the one waking him up at 8 a.m. sharp.

"I noticed my phone had not rung and I said let me get up and check the plug ins and it was dead as can be."

Smartt lost his job recently and says the daily call has been encouraging him to keep his head up.

"I've been out of work for a little over a month now but she is keeping me on my toes."

The tone was the same thing more than 30,000 people dealt with between Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties as the phone company says a router failure crippled land lines everywhere including the 911 center.

Sequatchie County EMA Director Winfred Smith says, "It is just like the lights being out at your house and you go to flip a switch thinking it is going to come on."

Smith got the call around 4 a.m. and immediately thought of a back up plan to get word out.

He bought a cell phone and put the number out over scanners.

Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock had deputies patrol more back roads in hopes of finding anyone in trouble who couldn't get word to emergency workers.

"The scary thing is if someone has a heart attack or something, they don't know the system is down," Hitchcock says.

The other problem Hitchcock ran into was getting the word to people who didn't have scanners.

He says ambulance services were told to go to nursing homes in case an emergency happened.

Smartt says in his case, today could have been the day he returned to work and hopes he didn't miss that call.

"It is very important especially if you are out of a job and hoping to get the call to go to one, you know?"

Smith says phone service should be completely restored in 24 hours.

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