John Halstead – PDMRO ICT Officer
The Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation is one of the 48 teams and 9 regions that make up the MREW, Mountain Rescue England & Wales. The PDMRO is an umbrella organisation for 7 Mountain Rescue Teams that cover the area, Buxton, Edale, Derby, Glossop, Oldham, Kinder and Woodhead. Collectively these teams respond to around 500 incidents each year ranging from walking, climbing, mountain biking as well as major searches, aircraft crashes and flood support. There is not one paid employee within the PDMRO and all 7 teams are volunteer charitable organisations.
Due to changes by the license holder (UKSAR), the need to make more efficient use of the channels available and an increasing and more varied workload, MREW made a change nationally to the channels Mountain Rescue uses. To increase the effectiveness MREW also stated intent to migrate from an aging FM system towards a new digital system.
The previous FM radio solution brought with it a fixed way of communicating, limited range and problems keeping a consistent and clear connection between team members when out on call during a rescue.
The challenge that faced Zycomm was to provide, supply and install a new wide area digital two way radio network infrastructure allowing the PDMRO to always have clear and consistent communication between team members locally and to be able to communicate between teams on major incidents and multi-team searches.
Zycomm provided The Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation with Hytera Digital radio repeaters. These repeaters were installed predominantly at or close to Rescue Team Bases with the master repeater installed at Zycomm’s own mast which is located at Peasunhurst.
The seven repeaters are connected together over IP; this is achieved through Zycomm providing a managed VPN (Virtual Private Network) over the internet. The VPN is monitored 24 hours, 7 days a week, allowing Zycomm to be a constant support to the PDMRO if any network issues arise.
Communication is incredibly important in order for the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation and its seven teams to be successful in keeping people safe and attended to as quickly as possible. Under the old FM system their communication was limited but with the change and addition of the digital technology this has been resolved.