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Contact: Caven Clark, 870/365-2790
Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce working in partnership with Ritter Communications and the National Park Service is re-installing emergency and courtesy pay phones that were removed due to federal budget cuts. The goal of the project is to provide communication services in cell phone dead zones common in the upper Buffalo River area.
No coins are required to operate these phones. The free public phones provide a direct link to emergency dispatch, the county sheriff, and direct connection to participating floating concessioners through special 4 digit codes posted on the phones.
The phones assure timely reporting of serious injuries to emergency dispatchers. Injuries along the river and hiking trails are relatively rare according to park studies, but they can be very serious and even life threatening due to the terrain. The Buffalo River Chamber replaced these phones to minimize the impact of serious injuries.
The Chamber funds the monthly operation of the phones. Ritternet Communications is paying for new specialized phones, installing them free of charge, and covering maintenance of the system. The park service will monitor the phones and report any problems or equipment damage.
"We appreciate the contribution of Ritternet and the NPS to make this happen. Our shared focus is on the well-being of our visitors and their safety. It is a simple and direct solution to improve services, one required in an era of tight federal budgets", said Michael Dougherty, President of the Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce.
The phones are located at Lost Valley, Steel Creek, Kyles Landing, Ozark, Erbie, and Pruitt Landing.
Contributions to the support of the emergency phone project can be made via PayPal at the Chamber website, http://buffaloriverchamber.com.