Robust and reliable communications upgrade for mountain rescue teams

Derbyshire based communications firm Zycomm Electronics was commissioned to help and support the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO) and the MREW (Mountain Rescue England and Wales) to modernise and enhance their communication system, to improve connectivity between teams – particularly within the Peak District, which is a diverse terrain territory.

Peak District Mountain Rescue is the emergency rescue provision for upland and mountain areas across Derbyshire and the Peak District. The PDMRO is an umbrella organisation for seven 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.

The previous FM radio solution used by the teams 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 PDMRO 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 24/7, 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.

The new digital repeater system and handsets enables the PDMRO to have more flexibility; their communication is now robust and reliable wherever their team members are in the Peak District Region. Instead of one level of communication, they are now able to work with three: simplex, set-to-set communication; the use of repeaters locally around a team base; and the use of the repeaters connected together for wider coverage.

The new digital system allows PDMRO teams to cover the majority of the Peak District Region without walking out of radio coverage. This improved and now consistent communication is a vital tool for the mountain rescue teams in the Peak District; it provides significant benefits in helping them to carry out their rescues quickly and efficiently for people who are in need of their services.

The Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO) was formed in 1964 is one of the 48 teams and nine regions that make up the MREW, Mountain Rescue England & Wales.