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TETRA system handles three millionth call 14 February 2007

The Isle of Man Government’s TETRA radio system handled its 3millionth call yesterday evening (February 13), just two months short of the third anniversary of its implementation.

Exterior Image of the ESJCR The TETRA (TErrestial Trunked RAdio) network and the associated Emergency Services Joint Control Room (ESJCR) have been a quiet success story. The ESJCR achieves remarkably high performance in terms of the efficient handling of 999 calls and the TETRA system processes thousands of radio messages daily from up to 20 different government user organisations ranging from emergency services and TT marshals to Department of Transport works division, IoM Water Authority and Manx Electricity Authority workers.

All 999 calls made on the Island are answered in less than two seconds. Last year, the control room handled a total of 14,755 emergency 999 calls and dealt with 33,983 emergency events. The TETRA system processed over 1.2million calls in 2006.

Communications director Robert Williamson said:

‘When we started the project, the vision was to have a totally integrated communications system for the emergency services and other organisations of government. That was the aim and it has been realised. We went live on 19 April 2004 with the new TETRA radio system and the Emergency Services Joint Control Room.’

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle commented:

‘It has been one of the biggest successes of joined up government – a true cross departmental initiative encompassing everything from departments to utilities to statutory boards. As far as we can establish, the Island’s speed in responding to emergency calls is unmatched and our system is the envy of many other jurisdictions.’

Interior Image of the ESJCE One of the rationales behind the project was the need to have integrated communications for the emergency services. The lack of co-ordination amongst emergency services has featured in recent disasters including Hillsborough, the King’s Cross fire, 9/11 and even the July 7 bombings in London in 2005.

Mr Williamson explained:

‘In the most recent report following the July 7 bombings, the London Assembly made 54 recommendations, of which 15 deal specifically with communications. The Isle of Man already meets those 15 recommendations thanks to TETRA and the joint control room.
‘I have attended conferences where the Island’s system has been held up as an example of what can be achieved, and we have welcomed many jurisdictions who want to develop their own integrated systems. Belgian authorities, led by their Assistant Commissioner of Police, visited us in May last year and Gotland came in August to see how it can be achieved and what the benefits are.’

Since April 2004, visits have been made by representatives from many locations including various Middle Eastern states, South Africa, Australia, Germany and Eire. And the Island’s communications systems continue to develop.

Mr Williamson went on:

‘The latest development is personal location systems. We have the ability to track each individual emergency service vehicle which is a great advantage when you are looking at deploying resources. What we don’t have is personnel tracking but the new Motorola radios, which we hope to introduce in the next two months, will give us the ability to track and locate individual officers. This is a great health and safety tool and also assists in managing resources.’

Providing the individual radios and a locator system to display the information at the ESJCR will be the next investment by the Department of Home Affairs.

Minister Martyn Quayle added:

‘It is essential that we continue to invest in equipment and new technology to ensure that the Emergency Services Joint Control Room and the TETRA network remain a flagship service for the Isle of Man.’

TETRA and ESJCR are operated and maintained by the Communications Division of the Department of Home Affairs.

For more information and the latest activity reports, please see the website

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