STANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJMN) — An Upper Peninsula family took it upon themselves to make sure people could access emergency help in their community, installing a 911 call box on a remote road near Houghton.
There’s no cellphone service along Little America Road in Stanton Township, northwest of Houghton. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office said in a Friday release that Ed and Faye Wakeham had seen that it was difficult for campers and neighbors to call for help.
“We had a brushfire out there before we had a landline. We only had a cellphone in the car. I went to five different houses to look for help. Either someone wasn’t home or they only had a cellphone,” Ed Wakeham recalled to WJMN, WOOD TV8’s sister station in Marquette, during a Friday phone call.
He added that said in recent years, people have had their snowmobiles break down or others have fallen off off-road vehicles. He even remembered an instance where his son was chased by wolves.
With no reliable cell service for miles, Wakeham decided he would take action.
He and his wife bought and installed a call box that now rings directly to emergency responders.
“I sent Marquette County Central Dispatch pictures and a letter and told them exactly what we’re doing in case anybody ever used the phone, they don’t have to ask a bunch of questions. It’s all in their computer,” Wakeham said.
The phone is clearly marked and accessible to anyone. Motion activated solar lights illuminate the area and reflective signs were installed to help people find the phone in an emergency. It is also monitored by camera to protect from pranks and misuse.
“It took me about a year of planning between buying signs, ordering the phone, figuring out a box for the phone, a plastic box that you could see,” Wakeham explained.
He said between all the equipment and setting up the line, the project cost about $1,000. He also pays the bill himself each month to keep the phone operational.
“It’s to help people. Something could go wrong. It could be scary for someone when there’s no help around,” he said.
“Just help people out,” he added. “It could be your neighbor, your best friend, someone you don’t know. Just do the right thing.”
“This is a great community member initiative that will help the residents and local camp owners if they have a need for emergency services. I want to thank the Wakeham family for this project,” Houghton County Sheriff Joshua Saaranen said in a statement.
Saaranen drove to Little America Road to try the phone and reported that it worked flawlessly.