911 Operators, Fire Departments Prepare for Eclipse

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis area is preparing for some of the more overlooked problems of the eclipse. For example, using your cell phone today may be difficult and even unavailable.

The vice president of disaster operations and logistics for the American Red Cross Brad Kieserman says the Red Cross will rely on ham radio to communicate with staff and volunteers if need be. He says hopefully visitors have gone old school and printed out directions and reservations for hotels and campsites.

A spokesman for verizon says they’ll be beefing up their network capacity for emergency responders, but not increasing capacity for commercial use.

Around the country, emergency operators are preparing for the eclipse in part because they expect a small number of residents to not know why the sun is darkening. 911 operators have been preparing to reassure unaware residents.

One state emergency management official said no matter how much publicity we have, some people won’t know about the eclipse.

St. Louis fire chief Dennis Jenkerson is worried about mutual aid commitments leading up to the eclipse, getting fire trucks to rural areas where there could be grass fires in fields crowded with people and cars.

“Pay attention to the details, you know, if you’re going to one of these remote areas you’re essentially camping. That open fire and open flames, bottles, how you park your car, if we get a lot of rain we’re going to have a ton of vehicles stuck in these fields, that’s another issue,” he says.

In the city of St. Louis, the chief says their biggest worry is accidents on the highways from drunk driving, distracted driving, or motorists parking on the shoulder to view the eclipse.

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