The role of teams has diversified greatly over the past number of years and Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) are now called out to assist in a wide range of incidents and circumstances. As a result, the areas of expertise for MRTs involve not just Mountain Search and Rescue but also aircrash response in remote environments, severe weather support, Missing Person Search in non-mountain environments and in some cases, Swiftwater Rescue and animal rescue in remote environments.
To enable the MRTs to respond effectively to these emergencies, dependable and effective communications in remote regions is a must. The mountain rescue teams have used various methods of communications from morse code to transmit messages over distances to basic CB type radios and then licenced VHF radios. MRTs now need a secure reliable network and the National Digital Radio Service (NDRS) fits its requirements.
Hour Network Monitoring
Fully Equipped Teams
Mountain Rescue Ireland's Migration
In order to assess the capabilities of the NDRS in comparison to the communications already in use. Mountain Rescue undertook a comprehensive testing period with TETRA terminals throughout the rugged terrain of Ireland’s eight large mountain ranges. The MRTs use of the TETRA network provided the capability to communicate in all remote areas including those that were previously out of radio range. The Sepura STP8000 hand terminals and the Motorola MTP850s, both terminals that feature a full keypad, are GPS enabled and have additional capabilities for Man Down alarm notification.
One of the first key vital pieces of information that Rescue Base require is the location of the missing or injured person. With a GPS enabled TETRA terminal, it's easier for rescue co-ordinators to forward plan any extraction routes and additions resources required, once an individual is found.
The use of TETRA removed the requirement for a repeaters on the mountains. Mountain Rescue Ireland rely on its communication network to get the right information to the right people, including talking directly with a Command Physician, anywhere in Ireland, in order to authorise the use of medication.
With An Garda Síochána amongst the key primary response agencies (Local Authority Fire Service / HSE) and also the Irish Coast Guard and Civil Defence, the opportunities of interoperability between these agencies can only improve Mountain Rescue’s response to dealing with emergency situations.
Comprehensive national communications coverage which offers additional capability for GPS location, personal safety and inter-operation with partnering rescue agencies.
"Following rigorous testing, TETRA coverage is the best we have ever experienced even in notorious Wicklow mountain black spots Glenmalure and Glenmacnass waterfall. We are now confident of uninterrupted communications which contributes hugely to our rescue efforts."
Kenny Roberts, Mountain Rescue Ireland