Why didn't an Oberon woman's emergency call go through?

CONCERN: Oberon RSL Sub Branch president Bill Wilcox found the Oberon resident on the floor.

CONCERN: Oberon RSL Sub Branch president Bill Wilcox found the Oberon resident on the floor.

A PERSONAL emergency response alarm didn't work during the mobile reception outage at Oberon last month, it has emerged.

An Oberon woman had a fall and couldn't use her VitalCall alarm because the mobile reception wasn't available during a period of maintenance.

A text message advisory about the period of maintenance wasn't sent to phones in Oberon until days after the maintenance began, as reported in the Review last month.

Telstra told the Review last month that its "normal practice of advising Telstra mobile customers in the area of a planned interruption did not take place prior to work commencing and was triggered later in the week".

When contacted by the Review about the Oberon woman's fall, a Telstra spokesperson said the company understood the distress it would have caused her and her family and said, in this case, a service which uses Telstra's mobile network was supplied to the resident by another company.

Oberon RSL Sub Branch secretary Neville Stapleton has described himself as furious after he said Lurline Robinson was left lying on a floor for several hours because her emergency medical alarm failed to work.

Mr Stapleton said Mrs Robinson's daughter went to visit her mother on June 23 at the Dart Street units which are owned by the sub branch.

"She became distressed when her mother failed to open the door or make any response, knowing her mother was home and expecting her," he said.

"When her daughter could not gain access after many attempts to attract her mother's attention, she called the police and ambulance."

Mr Stapleton said sub branch president Bill Wilcox noticed her at the door, and hurried to help.

"He opened the door for her and found Mrs Robinson on the floor between the toilet and hallway," he said.

"By this time, the police and ambulance had arrived, and it was ascertained that Mrs Robinson had been on the floor for some two hours and could not get herself up.

"She said she had tried her VitalCall [personal emergency response alarm] button but it had not worked."

Mrs Robinson spent five days in hospital.

Mr Stapleton said Mr Wilcox called VitalCall to ask why the system had failed and he was told that the Telstra mobile tower in Oberon was down for maintenance and the system would not work while the tower was out of operation.

Mrs Robinson's home phone and VitalCall are through Telstra, though her mobile is with another telecommunications company.

Mr Stapleton said Mr Wilcox was also told that VitalCall had told Mrs Robinson that her VitalCall button would not work, as well as her "uplink", who is Mr Wilcox.

Mr Wilcox, however, says he did not get a call giving him that information.

The Oberon Review contacted VitalCall for a response, but had not received one by the time of publication.

Mr Stapleton said VitalCall said they had advised Mrs Robinson that if she had a problem, to call triple-0.

"This really voids the whole point of having the VitalCall in the first place - if she could dial triple-0 from the floor she wouldn't need VitalCall," he said.

Mr Stapleton said he knew of a number of people around the town who had called and visited Telstra to inquire about the service outage, because Oberon residents hadn't been informed.

Mr Stapleton said Mr Wilcox received a text from Telstra on June 26 saying the mobile service in the area would be out of service periodically from June 21 for six days.

"I received the same text message at 2.30pm on Sunday, June 27," he said.

A Telstra spokesperson provided a response on behalf of the company.

"We hope the resident is recovering from her fall, and wish her a healthy and speedy recovery, and understand the distress that it would have caused her and her family," the spokesperson said.

"In this case, a service which uses our mobile network was supplied to the resident by another company.

"During the week ending 25 June we undertook planned maintenance to upgrade the mobile tower in Oberon to 5G in an effort to enhance and upgrade mobile services to the region.

"We appreciate more than anyone how vital telecommunications are, including to people relying on personal emergency alert devices, which is why we endeavour to minimise outages and complete planned works as quickly as possible."