Emergency officials who service the northern tip of Cape Breton are appealing for cellphone coverage, saying their response time is delayed without it.

In the past month, two people have fallen from the cliffs in the Meat Cove area. A 17-year-old girl was taken to hospital in serious condition over the weekend and a 64-year-old man fell to his death in a separate incident last month.

Clayton MacKinnon, the chief of the Bay St. Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department, said in both cases rescue efforts were delayed for hours while someone from his department left the scene to call for reinforcements.

"The individual who did call 911 had to come back out of the woods where the person was, to call 911," said MacKinnon, adding the emergency responder had to drive for at least half an hour before getting cellphone reception.

"It would make the difference between life and death."

Johnny Buchanan, the municipal councillor for the area, said there is no cellphone coverage anywhere around Bay St. Lawrence, Capstick or Meat Cove.

He said he has been asking Bell Mobility to look into a cellphone tower for the area and is hoping the incidents at Meat Cove will draw attention to the problem.

"Especially the people who were conscious when they went over the bank, I mean, the could call and not lay there until somebody finds them," said Buchanan.

Bell Mobility told CBC News it doesn't talk about plans for specific areas, but said in places where it may not be economical to expand coverage, it's always open to talking about government partnerships.

Money for small boat also needed: fire chief

Meanwhile, MacKinnon said the Bay St. Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department also needs money to buy a small rescue boat.

He said his department relies on local fishermen to help with rescue efforts and during this weekend's incident at Meat Cove, conditions made that difficult.

"We had two local fishermen with their big boats travel to the area, but where it was so rocky and shallow they couldn't get in with their big boats," MacKinnon told CBC News.

He said another local citizen just happened to show up with a smaller boat.

"With his Boston Whaler-type of outboard motor, he could drive right into the shore for us. So he came right in with RCMP and paramedics."

MacKinnon said the department needs a small, inflatable boat, such as a Zodiac, that can get close to the shoreline.