Emergency services hard to reach with no broadband access

By Colleen Rickard, Axtell, Nebraska

As a small business owner, it’s vital to have internet access; that’s where 95 percent of my sales occur. YouTube videos, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all require internet, and are extremely important for my business to function. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find inexpensive and reliable internet living in rural Nebraska.

This lack of access affects every aspect of our modern lives and gets in the way of accessing emergency services. This is especially disheartening for me, as my business, C-Pap Easy Clean, was born of and exists to help improve the health of my customers.  

Due to connectivity issues, we have had two incidents in our area that could have been life-threatening. In one case, an automobile crashed alongside the road, and the driver was ejected. We tried to dial 911, but, unfortunately, had to spend precious time finding a spot to access cell service or internet capability.

In a similar instance, our daughter was in need of emergency care, and we needed to contact emergency services, but were unable to make a good connection. We performed CPR while simultaneously moving the phone around the kitchen, trying to find a signal.

Luckily, both women are still alive today, but these stories could have easily gone another way.

My husband works for a major medical company, traveling all over Nebraska. There are several areas where his cell phone will not work because of lack of signal or internet access. He delivers medications, as well as life-saving medical equipment, and doctors need to be able to get in touch with him at any given moment. If they can’t, lives could be on the line.

If we have the technology to discover water on Mars, surely there is a way to get better internet to rural areas in Nebraska. Something has to be done to help the people who live here have better internet and phone service.