NSW Ambulance upgrades P25 network, improves staff safety with GPS tracking

Wednesday, 24 November, 2021

NSW Ambulance upgrades P25 network, improves staff safety with GPS tracking

The NSW Ambulance service has upgraded the Far West Project 25 ( P25) radio network with improved coverage and network performance for critical communication operations.

NSW Ambulance has more than 6000 staff, including paramedics, doctors, nurses and corporate personnel, who provide communities with emergency health care and support, clinical care, and rescue and retrieval services across the state. Each year, one in six people in the state receive care from NSW Ambulance, with a call for help every 26 seconds1. April 2021 marked 125 years of the operation for the NSW Ambulance service.

NSW Ambulance needed a partner to redesign its P25 network to ensure all geographical locations across NSW had coverage, it had adequate safety measures in place for staff and the network remained resilient without outages.

Privately owned telecommunications carrier Vertel won the tender by providing a detailed solution that demonstrated an understanding of the requirements needed for NSW Ambulance’s critical operations. The company, which has already proven to be a trusted supplier to NSW Ambulance on previous projects, designed and implemented the P25 upgrade.

Steven Norris, NSW Ambulance Assistant Commissioner and Director of Control Centres, said, “NSW Ambulance needed a solution that could tailor the P25 network and features to ensure redundancy across the network and communications that enhanced staff and patient safety. Vertel understood the nature of our operations. The team worked closely and collaboratively with NSW Ambulance staff to create a dedicated network that ensures the safety of our staff and paramedics, is user-friendly and provides reliable coverage so we can continue to provide the best possible out-of-hospital care in remote areas of NSW.”

Worker safety is an ongoing concern for NSW Ambulance due to the number of assaults and other violent incidents involving frontline responders. Taking this into consideration, Vertel designed the platform to have GPS tracking on all vehicles and a duress button for paramedics. In the case of an emergency, the control centre knows exactly where the personnel are and can dispatch the appropriate resources to assist immediately.

The network has also been designed with the user in mind, with just one channel to ensure paramedics are always on the correct channel.

Vertel also considered the critical nature of the services NSW Ambulance provides and created multiple levels of redundancy in the network to ensure a single failure will not collapse the entire network. This involves two control centres, with the primary control centre based at Dubbo and the back-up centre based near Wollongong.

NSW Ambulance covers an area larger than 800,000 km2; however, some locations struggled to receive coverage with the old network2. Vertel adapted the new design to overcome these issues and provide coverage throughout the state, while also implementing remote network monitoring to monitor any faults in real time and rectify them straight away.

Tony Hudson, commercial director, Vertel, said, “Vertel has a long-standing history of supplying the market with infrastructure and technology for critical communications. Using our expertise in this field, we designed the NSW Ambulance Far West P25 radio network, understanding the critical nature of its operations and ensuring the network is resilient. This is a strategic win for Vertel that aligns to our ethos of smarter, healthier, safer, by providing critical communications to remote communities.”

NSW Ambulance also recently received an International Critical Communications Award (ICCA) for the Best Use of Critical Communications in Public Safety Category. The ICCAs are the most prestigious awards in critical communications, recognising the success of products, organisations and individuals in pushing the boundaries and capabilities in the field. This award recognised the work NSW Ambulance undertook with Vertel to build its Far West P25 Radio Network.

(1) https://www.ambulance.nsw.gov.au/news/news-items/welcome-to-nsw-ambulance
(2) https://www.ambulance.nsw.gov.au/news/news-items/welcome-to-nsw-ambulance

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/blondsteve

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