Lexton still fighting for reception despite upgrades

As captain of the Lexton Fire Brigade and a farmer, Steve Wheeler knows better than most how difficult it can be working around the mobile black spots that plague the area, particularly during emergencies.

Years of little to no mobile reception has taken “its toll” on Lexton residents and although a new Optus tower is being switched on in the area this month along with a small scale Telstra mobile cell site, some say it is “disappointing” and not enough to adequately cover the town.

The fight to get mobile reception has been an ongoing saga for the community, with the Optus tower first promised in 2016 under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program only just constructed and recent events showcasing how vital reception is.

On October 18 last year, a major collision occurred on the Sunraysia Highway in the centre of town between a mini bus carrying students and staff from the Ballarat Specialist School and a tractor.

The accident demanded a huge turn out of emergency services, including the Lexton Fire Brigade, to help safely remove injured passengers from the bus, control the scene and get students home to their families.

Lexton brigade Captain Steve Wheeler said with both mobile and radio reception almost non-existent, communication was a struggle at the incident.

“Communication is pretty tough here and it takes its toll,” he said.

“There’s just no reception, even our radios don’t work that well so we have nothing.

“You have to try and find a way around it. When the bus crash happened that was a time when radios didn’t work properly so we couldn’t even get back to VicFire. I actually rang them from the post office landline.”

For more on this story see Page 3 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, June 23

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