The Association of Lowland Search & Rescue (ALSAR) has built a secure, digital two-way radio communications network using Motorola Mototrbo digital mobile radio technology to
Develop a more effective search and rescue (SAR) voice and data communications.
Its vision is to improve search and rescue communications interoperability by bringing in resources from all relevant organisations to a single point to improve search and rescue.
"The Police Service has to do more with less and is becoming increasingly more reliant on professional volunteers,” said Kris Manning, chairman, Lowland Rescue. “Developing mission-critical communications solutions that bring our teams and hopefully other SAR organisations onto a single, interoperable network is one of our responses to this challenge."
Lowland Rescue is a self-financing organisation comprised of more than 1,800 highly trained volunteers who are called upon by local Police Search Advisors (POLSAs) to provide search management and physical search for high-risk missing persons - typically those with dementia, the despondent or suicidal and missing children.
During the first few vital hours of a missing person report Lowland Rescue can call on 36 search teams in the UK with specialists in dog handling, flood rescue and waterway search.
Thirteen Lowland Rescue teams have already migrated to the organisation’s digital radio communications network, known as LRnet, with the others planning to rapidly follow. LRnet is based on a Mototrbo Linked Capacity Plus system joining single sites across an IP network to provide a cost-effective, high-capacity, voice and data wide area communication solution.
“We selected Mototrbo digital two-way radio because, straight out of the box, it let us communicate on a wide area basis, creating a talk group plan that is consistent across all the United Kingdom’s teams,” said Paul Westwell, communications officer, Lowland Rescue.
LRnet has deployed eight fixed Mototrbo DR 3000 repeaters with plans to extend to 16, plus additional mobile repeaters fitted to incident control vehicles. This extends the current network from Cheshire in the north to the southern coast.
Mutual aid is very common within Lowland Rescue and the wide area network enables the search manager in the Incident Control Vehicle to instantly call on the expertise of other search managers elsewhere in the country to assist.
The 300 Mototrbo DP4601, DP4801 handheld radios and DM4601 vehicle-mounted mobile radios registered on the network are tracked by a registration database which includes their last known locations.
Lowland Rescue has also integrated SAR mapping applications via a common Global Positioning System (GPS) database. The Mototrbo digital radios report their location at regular five minute intervals to a resilient central LRnet database and are shown on this national mapping system.
The enhanced location-based functionality, along with audio clarity and security, delivers a strong safety aspect for searchers using the radios.
“The tremendous work carried out by Lowland Rescue teams is all the more impressive when you realise this is a purely voluntary operation,” said Tim Clark, director, sales channel products and programmes, Europe and Africa, Motorola Solutions.
“We are actively engaged with supporting Lowland Rescue, including trialling new technologies such as WAVE, which can cost effectively deliver secure broadband push-to-talk communications between the Mototrbo radios and volunteers’ mobile devices.”