On 18 April, Barrett Communications provided portable high-frequency (HF) radio communications equipment to the West Midlands Fire Services (WMFS) for its specialist search-and-rescue team who respond to international emergencies.

The WMFS Service is the second largest fire service within the United Kingdom and is responsible for the coordination of communication elements of UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR).

In larger emergencies, voice communication to and from outside the impact area is critical.

When identifying the need to further strengthen their communications in emergency environments with high-frequency (HF) capability, WMFS contacted Barrett Communications about the Barrett 2050 Rapid Field Deployment System (RFDS), and other portable HF systems.

These type of communication systems are often used by first responders to natural or man-made disasters where normal communications infrastructure has either been destroyed or disabled. With the exception of the initial capital cost, HF systems are infrastructure independent and free-to-air with no ongoing call costs.

WMFS are part of the larger International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR), a group known for their global response to natural and man-made disasters, and are often called upon by governments in extreme situations.

As part of their ongoing training, WMFS were recently involved in Modex Exercise 2 in Falck, Langvang, Denmark, where the exercise scenario was a major earthquake with numerous powerful aftershocks that had devastated the region of Langvang and the busy town of Falck.

The exercise took place over four days in below 0°C conditions.

Barrett RFDS was deployed as part of the UK communications system and provided relayed back to the response headquarters in Falck. Two of the WMFS rescue specialists wore Barrett 2090 HF manpacks, which allowed them to provide minute by minute updates on the rescue situation.

WMFS communications engineer Mike Teale commented: "The RFDS was deployed and operational within minutes and provided reliable communications throughout the entire exercise, which is so critical in emergency situations like this.

"Additional capability of HF radio communications has strengthened the rescue service that WMFS provide."

Barrett Communications is a specialist Australian designer and manufacturer of commercial and tactical HF and very-high-frequency (VHF) radio communication systems.