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SHARED ACCESS FINDS SOLUTION FOR ISLE OF WIGHT SEARCH & RESCUE

February 24, 2021

Installation of new radio mast will increase coverage of the island by 20%

24th February 2021 – Shared Access, an independent owner and operator of shared wireless infrastructure, has expanded essential coverage for the Isle of Wight Search & Rescue team (WightSAR) at a radio mast at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.

WightSAR was able to cover a large percentage of the island through its existing digital encrypted radio communications, however the area around Ventnor, Luccombe and the under cliff has always proved problematic due to its geography.

Dean Terrett, Chairman of WightSAR:

“This is a game-changer for us. The additional connectivity that Shared Access has facilitated will unquestionably save lives. We are called to this area a lot – and in many instances due to the terrain we have found ourselves with neither radio signal nor mobile phone coverage. In the past we have had to place one of our vehicles and mast in the area to relay critical communications, which meant the vehicle couldn’t be used for other purposes. This is a big step up for us. It increases the safety for our volunteer operatives and completely changes the way that we can work on the island.”

Sam Jackman, Chief Development Officer at Shared Access:

“We are in the business of bringing connectivity to communities. So when WightSAR and RAYNET-UK approached us about the site independently and explained the tangible benefits that additional coverage would bring to both organisations, we jumped at the chance to help.  The new radio mast installation will help improve capacity and radio coverage over the Isle of Wight, the coastline and Hampshire as a whole.”

RAYNET-UK is the UK’s national voluntary communications service providing radio communication support for both the statutory and volunteer emergency service organisations.

Mike Collins, Infrastructure Officer at Isle of Wight Council (RAYNET-UK):

“The site that Shared Access has utilised is an exceptionally good communications point. Back in the ‘80s we had equipment that was housed up there, but the site was subsequently decommissioned. We’ve been desperate to increase coverage of the island for a long time, but as a voluntary organisation it was beyond our means. We are therefore deeply grateful to Shared Access for facilitating this. This is also great news for the WightSAR volunteers to enable them to help more people in need.”

The radio mast is owned by National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and forms part of the national strategic partnership announced between NATS and Shared Access in July 2020. The unique partnership builds on the nationwide communications network of sites owned by Shared Access, providing mobile coverage at the heart of communities across the UK.

David Matthews, Police Search Advisor (PolSA) at Hampshire Constabulary:

“Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police utilise the support of volunteer search and rescue organisations to assist with high risk missing person searches on a regular basis. Isle of Wight Search and Rescue provide police here on the Island with a significant amount of support in the event of such incidents. They provide a pool of committed and highly trained search personnel along with team leaders, search managers and specialist equipment. They are fully self-sufficient and available 24/7 to be deployed to support these critical matters that are often a matter of life and death.”