THE Cheshunt area is a communications black spot, according to a community action group.
It says emergency services cannot transmit crucial information in and out of the area and anyone wanting to talk to the outside world has to come into town to get a message out.
The Cheshunt Repeater Action Group says two-way UHF radios cannot be used in the Upper King Valley’s Black Ranges, Rose River Valley, Cheshunt, Whitfield, Edi Upper and Myrrhee.
Committee member Scott Saunders yesterday said this situation was unacceptable, especially in emergency situations such as the 2006 fires that roared around Cheshunt.
“Communications broke down massively,” Mr Saunders said.
The problem also restricted communications during a wide-scale search for Wangaratta man Devin Carracher, who had a seizure and died while fishing the King River in September.
Emergency services apparently had to make the 20-kilometre round trip to town to make calls, slowing the search.
“Every second is vital when you’re looking for life,” Mr Saunders said.
“Bloody hell, we have to do something about it.”
Mr Carracher’s mother, Fran, said the trauma of the search for her son had been made worse by the problem.
The family was told to stay away from the search scene and had to call the police station for information.
Those at the station then had to contact or wait for searchers to return to the station.
“They tried hard but we didn’t get a lot of information,” Ms Carracher said.
“It was really hard — just the waiting game.”
The action group said the area needed a $13,000 UHF repeater — effectively a tower that enables UHF radios to work.
Committee member Jeff Watson said it should be built in the Black Ranges, on Department of Sustainability and Environment land.
They need to secure the land before seeking the money for the repeater station.
Mr Watson said the group needed community support to show the government how much a repeater was needed.
Ms Carracher, who was at Cheshunt on Saturday to inspect a memorial to her son, said she fully supported a repeater for the area so that other families didn’t have to go through the trauma her family had endured.
“I feel it’s necessary here because of Devin’s death,” she said.
“I would like to be a part of it and help to support them and do whatever I can.”
The action group has started a petition and, to access it or find more information, phone Mr Saunders on (03) 5729 8073, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to CRAG at c/o Cheshunt Post Office 3678.