Call boxes broken on dangerous stretch of cliffs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Call boxes broken on dangerous stretch of cliffs

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Repairs have begun to be made to call boxes at Sunset Cliffs which are used to call lifeguards during an emergency.

The call boxes are located along a dangerous stretch of cliffs and were found to be broken after a beachgoer had to use their cellphone to call San Diego Lifeguards during an emergency.

Sunday’s cliff rescued was the third rescue in a span of three days.

There are six emergency call boxes along the beaches in the city and some of them have been malfunctioning.

“This is kind of our first experience where we are seeing delays of up to a minute on these call boxes,” said Lt. John Sandmeyer, San Diego Lifeguard.

According to Lt. Sandmeyer, AT&T operates the call boxes which are on 2G service and desperately need to be upgraded to 3G. It would cost $900 for each call box that is repaired. 

"Just that dial up procedure seems to be more unpredictable. So it can take some up to a minute, sometimes it can take only ten-seconds in our normal function,” he said.

When lifeguards checked the call boxes on Friday, calls took two minutes and 18 seconds to reach a dispatcher.

“It’s important that we get right on it and get those [call boxes] upgraded,” said Lt. Sandmeyer.

Lt. Sandmeyer said the call boxes help save lives because there is low cellphone service at the cliffs.

“When service is that bad down here, they definitely should work. You don't want something that is supposed to help you not working, especially in this circumstance when you don't have that much time to think," he said.

San Diego Lifeguards have contacted the city about the call box delays and hope to have the phones fixed next week.

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