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Williamson County Re-Routes Cell Tower Following Man's Death

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 25, 2014
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:26:53-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Williamson County's director of public safety has ordered a change to the cell tower that sent one woman's 911 call to wrong dispatch center.

The change follows a NewsChannel 5 investigation that revealed the call was transferred not once, but twice earlier this summer.

"It has allowed us to go back and revisit some these [cell towers] that may have slipped through the cracks," Director of Public Safety Bill Jorgensen said.

Williamson County started reviewing all cell towers along its county borders after what happened to Margaret Redmon in June.

"You call 911 and you expect to get help right then, not transferred and then transferred again," Redmon said.

She lives in Williamson County, near the Davidson County line.

She called 911 when her husband collapsed.

"I have an emergency," Redmon told the 911 operator. "I got home and my husband is laying in the garage."

Her cell phone signal traveled across the county line to a cell tower in Davidson County.

The Davidson County tower directed the call to Nashville's 911 center.

"Hold on a second. You got Nashville. Let me transfer you to Franklin," the operator said.

Redmon replied, "Oh, please hurry,"

On the tape, you could hear a dial tone as the call is transferred and moans from Redmon's husband.

Eddie Redmon had suffered a stoke.

The call was transferred to the Franklin City dispatch center.

The operator answered, "911, what's the location of the emergency?"

Redmon replied, "Seminole Drive Temple Hills in Franklin, Tennessee."

Operator: "Seminole Drive?"

Redmon: "S-E-M-I-N-O-L-E. We're in Temple Hills third street on the right.

Operator: "Hang on a second you have the City of Franklin. You're in the county. I'm going to transfer you."

Redmon: "Oh, please hurry. This is the third time."

Finally, the call is transferred to Williamson County dispatch.

By the time an ambulance arrived, Eddie Redmon had stopped breathing.

"I'm upset at the process. I don't know how that can be an efficient process for anyone," Redmon's daughter, Laura Corder, said.

Williamson County immediately reviewed the cell tower that picked up Redmon's call and found it was picking up a large number of calls from Williamson County and sending them to Nashville's dispatch center.

"It has been here a long time, and we just have not looked at the sectors on this particular cell site," Jorgensen said.

Cell towers receive calls from three sectors.

Each sector is programmed to direct 911 calls to specific dispatch center.

The south sector of the Davidson County tower that Redmon's 911 call hit was changed to direct all calls to Williamson County instead of Davidson.

"It's good for Davidson County citizens and Williamson County citizens," Jorgensen said.

He said population growth in Williamson was so fast that some towers have not been adjusted.

"We're going back and looking at all the existing cell sites along our borders to make sure we don't have any sectors out there that should ring somewhere else."

But even with the change, there are some people in Williamson County whose cell calls will always go to Nashville first.

And some in Davidson will now hit Williamson first.

Officials say transfers are part of 911 systems.

"We're over 80% of our calls are coming from cell phones, and the technology has not caught up with that yet," Jorgensen said.

There is no way of knowing if Eddie Redmon would have survived if the call had immediately gone to the right place.

But the Redmons hope their tragedy will help to improve the system.

"The process is flawed. It has to fixed. It's crazy that many calls are transferred," Corder said.

Williamson County said the two transfers added 65 seconds to the time they started getting help to Redmon.

This is a problem in all counties, not just Williamson. 

Related story: Many 911 Calls Transferred When Seconds Count