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82 Year Old Acton Man's Medic Alert Disconnected

An 82 year old local man who is dependent on his life-saving Mobile Elite Medic Alert bracelet was disconnected from the service for five days after a Halton Region contractor cut through his telephone line. George Maltby lives on Churchill Road North where the Region is replacing water-mains.

Geoff Maltby, George's son, said the outage began around 10 a.m. on Friday, August 6 and was not repaired until Bell replaced the line the following Tuesday. The alert system is important to his father because he enjoys living independently and has a tendency to fall at times. The alarm goes directly to a call centre which will send an ambulance if he falls suddenly or requires immediate attention.

“A [Halton Region] supervisor finally came to see me and said it was Bell's fault. He said [Bell] won't mark them [buried phone lines] and they won't locate for them. He said they know they are going to go through phone lines and there's nothing they can do about it, and it's up to Bell to fix them,” said Geoff Maltby in a telephone interview with Acton UP.

“A Bell guy did show up Friday afternoon but with all the gravel on the road - you don't know what its like around here during construction, the road was under five feet of gravel - I guess he was unable to fix it.”

Nathan Gibson, Senior Manager of media relations for Bell had only this to say about the incident: “A fibre line was recently damaged due to area construction and some residents, including Mr. Maltby, experienced an interruption in service as a result. Bell technicians have restored service to the area as of Tuesday, August 10.”

According to Rachel Gardner, communications specialist for Halton Region, due diligence is done before construction starts. “Prior to excavation, the contractor acquired locates for all underground utilities, but were not made aware of the resident’s Bell servicing line or location, as Bell does not locate private servicing lines for construction work, they only locate main servicing lines. As a result, the line was accidentally cut during the excavation process.”

Gardner states that Regional staff is also on-hand to ensure that the contractor marks main underground utilities with the ground markings. “A Regional consultant helps administer the construction contract and carries out site inspections, while Regional field staff help ensure construction continues according to the contract (including locating main underground utilities). Despite these steps, there is always a risk that certain utilities have not been identified (for example, private phone lines) or that locates are in the wrong spot. If this happens and the service is disrupted, we work with the contractor and service provider to resolve the issue and restore service as quickly as possible.”

But Geoff Maltby suggests that the Region only started “working” with the service provider after his family insisted they do so. “They [the Region] were in fact the reason the phone was out. It was just the line that was dug up that was the problem. No other problem. As it happened, my father fell a couple of times during the five days while the phone was out,” said Geoff Malty. “It's lucky we were around checking on him.”

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