Medical sensors, night vision thermal imaging streaming and GPS for search dogs are among the latest technologies to be trialled by mountain rescue volunteers in the Yorkshire Dales.
The £6.4m Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trial project has been used by Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team (SMRT) in partnership with Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY), and has featured in a recent episode of BBC Click.
Paul Denning, Swaledale Mountain Rescue volunteer, said: “Working with the MANY project has given us the chance to see how digital technology can support our search and rescue leading to improving the potential survival of casualties and enhancing our search capabilities.”
Led by partner Safenetics, the project has been working with the volunteer team to explore how the latest technology can support enhanced search and rescue in the Yorkshire Dales.
The partnership has included assessing how easily applied patch sensors can monitor a casualty’s heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, pulse oximetry and respiration rate in real time. It can also use thermal imaging to find a casualty with a smart phone and track a search dog with GPS.
Matt O’Neill, Assistant Director for Growth, Planning and Trading Standards, said: “Our Mountain Rescue teams are critical to our emergency response in North Yorkshire. It is exciting that – through MANY – we have been able to offer our volunteer teams the chance to show how new technology can enhance their life saving work.
“This type of trial highlights the importance that rural connectivity can have supporting not just our communities and businesses but also visitors ensuring it is a safe place to live, work and visit.”
The 5G network allows all the information gathered from the device at an incident site to be streamed back to the mountain rescue control quickly, which then – if required – can be streamed to the relevant emergency service or medical facility.
The trial in Arkengarthdale used a low cost, highly portable 5G base station developed by the University of York Electronic Engineering department, together with a satellite connection to the internet. This showed how the volunteer team, which rely entirely on public donations, could use the very latest mobile technology to the benefit of those in need.
David Lund, Managing Director of Safenetics, who leads the Mission Critical Communications aspects of the MANY project, said: “It has been a delight to work with Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, whose volunteers show the highest professionalism in what they do. We are also pleased to be able to demonstrate how this technology can be adopted by other emergency services and would be happy to pass on our expertise to others working in this field.”