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Cohasset

Emergency call box gives beachgoers direct access to 911

Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley and Town Manager Chris Senior unveiled the town's new emergency call box in an area with unreliable cellphone service.Town of Cohasset

This coastal town has gone old school with a modern twist — installing an emergency call box powered by satellite, battery, and solar power across the street from Black Rock Beach in Wadleigh Park, an area infamous locally for its lack of cell service.

The phone inside the box connects directly with the operators at the South Shore Regional Communications Center — the town’s 911 dispatching service.

The call box cost about $20,000, and the money came out of the town’s operating budget, officials said.

“This whole corner of Cohasset is a cellular dead zone,” Town Manager Chris Senior said. He said not only was it inconvenient for those in the area, but dangerous when people couldn’t get through to 911 when they needed help.

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For example, Senior said this past year there was an emergency at Black Rock Beach and a desperate caller couldn’t get through to Cohasset’s 911 service because of poor cell connection.

“They ended up connecting to Revere, (which) eventually linked to us and fortunately help got there in time,” Senior said. But something needed to be done to avoid disaster in the future, he said.

“This box creates the first link of its kind for emergency services for the beach and homes nearby; it’s a big first step to improving access,” he said.

“Should there ever be an emergency at Black Rock Beach, we don’t want phones’ weak signals to be the reason as to why (someone) can’t complete a call and connect with 911 dispatchers,” Police Chief William Quigley said.

The call box, which is attached to a pole, is bright yellow and has a large sign and light to make it easy to see. The box also is high enough to be out of the reach of most flooding, Senior said.

“It’s an updated version of what used to be common everywhere,” he said, adding that the call box doesn’t need wireless or wired connections.

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Senior said the town also is working on plans for a new cell tower to improve cell access to the corner of North Cohasset most affected by connectivity problems.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com