A KEY element of the strategy to maintain community safety in the Island has achieved a significant milestone during 2011.
The Isle of Man Government’s TETRA communications system recently handled its 10 millionth call since its inception in April 2004.
TErrestrial Trunked RAdio is managed by the Department of Home Affairs Communications Division and used by 23 different organisations across Government, with approximately 4,500 terminals in operation.
It has proven particularly beneficial to the emergency services and continues to play an essential role in the safe running of the Island’s motorsport festivals. All police officers, fire crews, ambulance teams, marshals, race controllers, vehicles and helicopters use TETRA, and events such as the TT and MGP could not function effectively without it.
The network was also instrumental in the successful delivery of the Commonwealth Youth Games in September – a period of activity that helped to push the number of TETRA calls through the 10-million barrier by the end of October.
TETRA was introduced in the Island in conjunction with the Emergency Services Joint Control Room (ESJCR) to produce an integrated communications system that is the envy of emergency service providers throughout the world.
Whereas most countries have separate control rooms to deal with police, fire and ambulance 999 calls, everything is handled under one roof in the Isle of Man. This can improve the coordination of multi-agency emergency incidents such as traffic collisions, which in turn helps to reduce response times and ultimately save lives.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said:
‘The Isle of Man is acknowledged as a global leader in terms of integrated communications and it is no surprise that delegations from the UK, Europe, Middle East and Far East have visited to look at how things are done here. The Department of Home Affairs is committed to maintaining the quality of life we all enjoy in the Island and the communications system is an important part of our efforts to help people feel safe, protected and secure.’
While TETRA calls have passed the 10-million mark – currently averaging 4,000 a day and rising to a peak of 15,000 a day during TT – the ESJCR has handled 124,900 emergency 999 calls, 254,087 emergency events and almost three-and-a -half million non-999 calls since the go-live date on April 19, 2004. The average time to answer a call at the ESJCR is just 1.81 seconds, well inside the Isle of Man and UK target times of 5 and 10 seconds respectively.
Minister Watterson said:
‘I recently visited the Control Room and was immediately struck by the huge volume of calls handled by the operators. Their professionalism, often when dealing with people in stressful situations, is very reassuring and helps the Department of Home Affairs to provide a first-class service to the local community.’
Communications Division Technical Director Robert Williamson, who recently addressed a conference in Poland on the benefits of TETRA, added:
‘Tynwald approved a five-year communications development programme in June 2009, and this investment has helped to ensure the continued high performance of TETRA and the ESJCR. The Isle of Man is held in high regard within the communications industry and a lot of organisations have looked at adopting our working methods.’