Yorkshire Ambulance Service Go-Live With SARCALL

Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) serves an area of more than 6,000 square miles and a population of more than five million people. From 24 April 2015, all the 9 Mountain Search and Rescue Teams in the YAS area are called-out direct from the SARCALL platform. Within a few hours, the system was used by YAS to callout Calder Valley SRT to a mountain biking incident and the following day for another mountain biker in the Woodhead MRT area.

The 9 Mountain Search and Rescue Teams in the YAS area span 4 Mountain Rescue regions and 3 Police Forces. Whenever a 999 Emergency call is graded as requiring a Search and Rescue response, the YAS staff login to SARCALL, select the required Team and send the message direct to the Team Leader group. This method, together with the online incident log, enables a common and efficient way to communicate with any of the different Teams and improve the situational awareness of all the responding Partners.

This YAS migration to SARCALL has been led by Ben Carter of Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team supported by Jon Beavan of the Cave Rescue Organisation.

The take-up of SARCALL by Cat. 1 Responders and SAR Teams continues at a rapid rate. The Police Scotland Eastern Area Control Room 'goes-live' in May and Cleveland Police also 'go-live' in May.

Incident Log Priority Tagging Added

20/4/15. To enable faster and more efficient use of the Incident Log, especially in more complex operations, the facility to assign a priority value to the log entry has been added. The User can assign each log entry a priority value 1..4 which is then colour-coded (red/amber/green/white) to improve rapid recognition of higher priority log entries.

This facility was added following valuable feedback from Exercise Cloudburst held in the Lake District where the Incident Logs were used as the primary means of inter-communication.

When a Calling Authority sends an SMS message to a Team, then that Log entry is automatically marked as high priority and these entries also trigger the new sound to quickly alert Users.To further visually structure the Incident Log, the 'Review / Summary' category is highlighted on an orange background. See New Features for more details.

Exercise Cloudburst In The Lake District

26/2/15. The Lake District Mountain Search and Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) held a major table-top exercise on 28 January to test the development and delivery of the response to a period of very heavy rainfall in the west of Cumbria coupled with high tides and onshore winds. The exercise was the first opportunity for the Major Incident Plan created by LDSAMRA to be exercised and to use SARCALL in a wide area context for incident management.

Based based at Keswick MRT HQ, the exercise started with a process of warning and informing the Teams and the Regional Water Rescue Group. In the first few hours of the Exercise, the region was hit with more than 20 separate incidents as local rivers burst their banks resulting in rescue or evacuation of about 150 people from Egremont, the evacuation of Sellafield workers from a stranded train and numerous vehicles stuck in floods. As the scale of the Exercise increased, neighbouring MR Regions were 'mobilised' and requested to provide assets to supplement the response in the Lake District.

SARCALL was used alongside TETRA to coordinate the regional and multi-regional response. This Exercise included the first big multi-regional test of SARCALL with Scotland, North Wales, Mid-Pennine, Peak District and the North East of England MR regions all interacting using SARCALL to develop their local response and to inform the Exercise control of the available assets. During the Exercise 34 MR Teams and Regional Silver Groups were all actively working at team, region and inter-regional levels. In addition, the PENMACRA Region and Devon and Cornwall Police monitored the exercise using SARCALL together with 4 Police Forces and North West Ambulance Service. More than 3,500 individual SMS messages were sent, team members responded with 630 SMS Responses back to the system and there were 149 unique Users logged-in to the system. During the Exercise, there were 10 concurrent Incident Logs running helping to share the overall situational awareness.

There were some great lessons learnt and the Exercise showed that the LDSAMRA Major Incident Plan and SARCALL will help deliver a robust and sustainable response to major incidents.

More Scottish MR Teams Join SARCALL

26/2/15. SARCALL is being increasingly being adopted by MR Teams in the Southern part of Scotland. Over the last few months, the Tweed Valley MRT, Border Search and Rescue together with Arrochar MRT have started with SARCALL. Other Scottish Teams are indicating a strong interest in moving forward with SARCALL which will help deliver improved inter-Team operations and enhance the shared situational awareness. For further information on the work in Scotland, please contact us.

New SARCALL Capability For NWAS

9/11/14. The new V3.60 release of SARCALL includes major enhancements enabling support for Calling Authorities that span multiple MR regions to callout and interact with MR Teams and other Partners.

For example, the new capability is being used to enable North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to extend their scope in SARCALL across 3 MR regions extending from the Scottish Border to the southern area of Manchester enabling Teams across the entire area to be called out by, and interact with NWAS together with Partners including Lancashire Police and Greater Manchester Police.

The facility was rolled out to the Teams in the Lancashire area on Friday 7 November 2014 and the NWAS then used the system to callout Rossendale and Pendle MRT on Sunday afternoon, 9 November.

The remaining MR Teams in the Greater Manchester area will go live with SARCALL from North West Ambulance Service on Monday afternoon. This new capability will help deliver a faster and more co-ordinated response to callouts in support of NWAS operations.

New Asset Register Capability

09/11/14. The new V3.60 version of SARCALL includes the capability to enable Teams to declare their key assets including Water, Transport and Transport domains. This capability will be especially helpful during more complex operations requiring the support of multiple Teams. The asset register facility is available to all Teams and Calling Authorities within the Documents Area of SARCALL. To respect the wishes of some Teams, there is an option for Teams to selectively opt-in to share their capability.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Callout Teams

12/8/14. During a recent weekend, the PSNI used SARCALL on two separate rescues done by the Mourne MRT and North West MRTs. During that busy weekend, there were a significant number of other callouts in England, Scotland and Wales using SARCALL by a wide range of Teams in conjunction with our Police, Ambulance and RAF colleagues.

Devon & Somerset F&RS Start Trial

6/7/14. An evaluation trial of SARCALL is underway at the Control Centre of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service at Clyst St George, Exeter, together with Devon Cave Rescue Organisation.

The trial is being managed by Laurie Adams (Specialist Rescue Lead) and Alex Hanson (CFOA Representative to UKSAR Operators Group). The trial is also being supported by Miranda Marklew, Station Manager - Fire Control Group Support Team.

It is likely that if the trial extends to full usage of the SARCALL system, then when Fire & Rescue Service activate a Team, the Police will automatically get a notification and vice versa. The Fire & Rescue Service are particularly interested in using the system to activate Teams during adverse weather events, flooding incidents and underground incidents etc. This effective multi-agency working meets the JESIP objectives and most importantly gives the very best response to the casualty and the community. The SARCALL Incident Logger is of great interest to the Fire & Rescue Service to enhance the shared situational awareness of all responders using the secure platform.

If the SARCALL trial proves successful then, due to the geographical area that Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue cover, this will also incorporate a number of the voluntary SAR Teams of the SWERA (South West England Search & Rescue Association) region.

WAST Start Trial With SARCALL

29/6/14. The Northern Control of the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) at Llanfairfechan on the North Wales coast have started a trial with SARCALL. When North Wales Police send a callout to any of the NWMRA Teams, the WAST Shift Managers automatically receive a notification summary of the callout. During the callout the WAST Shift Managers can then use the SARCALL Incident Logger to view the operation and also to interact with other Partners in the region.

It is hoped that the Logger will assist WAST in managing some of their resources and help ensure that the casualty has the best possible service from the hill to the Hospital. The addition of WAST Control to the SARCALL system in North Wales further extends the shared situational awareness of SAR operations amongst the other Partners in the region including North Wales Police including the JCC, PolSAs and ASU colleagues, the 7 x volunteer Mountain and Cave Rescue Teams, RAF 'C' Flight, the RAF Mountain Rescue Team, the Emergency Department at Ysbyty Gwynedd Bangor, the DEFRA Flood Advisers and the ARCC at Kinloss.

We are all really excited by the trial at WAST which further enhances the situational awareness now available in North Wales which in turn strengthens the operational response of all Teams, helps meet the JESIP objectives and most importantly, helps the casualty.

That Was A Busy Day..!

22/6/14. On 22 June, with hot and sunny weather across most of UK and Ireland, many people headed outside to enjoy the great outdoors on the hills and mountains. By the end of the day, 19 different Mountain/Cave/Search Teams had been called out to a wide range of incidents across England, Wales and Ireland using SARCALL. It began at 05:20hrs in Ogwen in Snowdonia and ended after midnight at Coniston in the Lake District.

This was one of the busier days for the system with 4,184 SMS messages were sent by SARCALL, 324 Users logging into SARCALL and 205 people sending SMS Response messages into the system. Some great collaborative working was achieved by Teams working with Partner Teams in conjunction with the ARCC at Kinloss, RAF Helicopters, Air Ambulances and other Partners.

Alert Sound When Log Updated

17/6/14 To help Team Users quickly identify that there has been a new log entry added to the Incident Logger, we have added a brief sound alert which is played whenever a new log entry is detected in the Users browser. At this stage, the alert sound facility is only available for Team Users as there are concerns about the presence of alert tones in a busy FCC or similar Control Room. See the New Features section for more details.


SARCALL In A Multi-Agency World

In Multi-Agency incidents, the JESIP Decision Model (JDM) places great emphasis on Category 1 Responders being to communicate, share information and develop plans to deliver a strong, cohesive and effective operational response.

A significant challenge in working through the JESIP Decision Model is to gather current and accurate information / intelligence from the field and Partners. To enable better operational responses, SARCALL is being actively used in a number of areas to enable all Partners in the Search And Rescue operation to be informed and share status, plans and data associated with the operation.

Operational information can be entered in real-time into the Incident Log which is then securely shared with other Partners including Police, Ambulance, Fire & Rescue, RAF SAR Force, Search Teams, Mountain Rescue Teams, Helimeds and Hospitals.Variants of this model are in operational use in several areas of the UK delivering substantial operational gain for all Partners.

For example, in Wales, the SARCALL system is used by North Wales Police, NPAS, RAF Seaking helicopter Flight, RAF Mountain Rescue Team, volunteer Search and Rescue Teams, DEFRA Flood Advisors and the Emergency Department at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital at Bangor. All these Partners can share the same Incident Log to enable appropriate and evidence-based operational decisions to be made together with having a full audit trail.

This multi-agency capability of having all the Partners in the 999/112 call emergency chain all sharing the same incident log is probably unique in the SAR world.

View Article »

Published 23/05/14 by John Hulse

Devon & Cornwall Police Now Live!

Devon and Cornwall Police are now live with SARCALL as the Calling Authority for the 7 SAR Teams in the PenMaCRA region. All callouts for these Teams are now direct from the Police using SARCALL together with the Incident Logger. Full details are available from Jon Whiteley who is the SARCALL Regional Administrator for the area.

View details »


SARCALL and North West Ambulance Service

See Emergency Services Times (December 2013) and Ambulance Today magazines for an article about North West Ambulance Service and SARCALL in the Cumbria area. See Paul Horder who is the SARCALL Regional Administrator for the area for more details.

View details »


RAF Valley and Leeming MRTs Now Live!

The RAF Valley MRS and RAF Leeming MRS are now active with SARCALL and able to review callouts in the NWMRA and LDSAMRA Regions. Full details are available from the SARCALL Regional Administrators for the area.


C Flight, RAF Valley Now Live!

Seaking C Flight, 22 Sqdn at RAF Valley are now live with SARCALL and able to review all callouts in the NWMRA and LDSAMRA Regions. The availability of SARCALL for the Flight Desk is significantly reducing the reaction time for deployments of the aircraft as the crews get a 'heads-up' that there is an operation in progress.

View details »


Sharing Logs Between Regions

With most regions now using Incident Logs, there is an increasing need to be able to share the logs outside the region. This is especially important for wide area Silver operations etc. Testing will finish by the end of July 2014.


Bangor Hospital (YG) Live With SARCALL

Senior Clinicians at the Emergency Department at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital (Bangor) are using SARCALL to interact with Teams via the Logger. The facility enables the clinicians to make the decision about whether to call a Trauma Team to be ready to receive the casualty.


SARCALL And Flooding Operations...

At the start of January, significant coastal areas of England and Wales were flooded or at risk of flooding. SARCALL was used as the primary logger and messaging system for this event in North and Mid-Wales, Devon and Cornwall together with Cumbria for volunteers managing the land response. SARCALL Log users included Mountain Rescue Teams, DEFRA Flood Advisors, RNLI personnel, Police and RAF Search and Rescue Helicopters.

View details »


New Users Coming Soon...

Work is in underway with Northumbria Police, lead by Iain Nixon of Northumberland National Park MRT, to enable Northumbria Police to jointly call NOTMRT and NNMRT.

Iain is also busy working with Cleveland Police to integrate SARCALL into their systems to enable direct calling of Cleveland MRT.

The 2 Teams in the Dublin area are working closely in partnership with the An Garda Siochana to implement a major trial to enable direct and joint calling of the Dublin-Wicklow and Glen of Imaal MRTs using SARCALL.


SARCALL And Regional Silver Groups

SARCALL has been selected by the MREW and BCRC Major Incident Task Group to deliver Regional and multi-Regional communication for large incidents. The system will enable each Regional Silver Group to communicate and access key operational information.

View details »


New Features Coming Soon...

A major change to add Flood Alert mapping is in progress. We are working closely with Shoothill Ltd to integrate FloodAlerts into SARCALL. The go-live target is September 2014.


SARCALL at the BlueLightCamp...

John attended the BlueLightCamp 2014 hosted at the Ordnance Survey HQ. The two-day BlueLightCamp brings together people who work in and around Emergency Services across the UK providing a platform to explore new technologies which also support the JESIP doctrine on shared situational awareness.

View details »


SARCALL And Major Incidents

When Teams are engaged in large incidents, it is vital that there is clear and effective communication between Teams and with our Partners. The scale-up of the incident from Team, through region and onto national level is described in the article in the April 2014 MREW magazine.



   About SARCALL...

SARCALL is a volunteer-led, operationally focused project delivering Callout, Messaging and Multi-Ageny Incident Management services for Mountain, Search and Cave Rescue Teams and is being used by 87 Teams and 15 Calling Authorities (Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance, Helimeds and the RAF SAR Force). More than 4,000 callouts have been handled by the system in 6 years together with more than 1.2 million SMS messages delivered to Team Members.

The platform is available free-of-charge to all volunteer Mountain, Cave and Lowland Search and Rescue Teams together with Calling Authorities when calling or interacting with volunteer SAR Teams in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

SARCALL Support
For more information on SARCALL, please contact the SARCALL Helpdesk. The Operations System Admins are Paul Horder, Jon Whiteley and John Hulse; we will do our best to help you. Alternatively, you can get great support from your Regional Administrators who are:-
LDSAMRA: Paul Horder / Tracey Binks.   NWMRA: John Hulse / Gerald Davidson.   MPSRO: Simon Harris / Iain Nicholson.   Scotland: James Coles / David Wright.  PDMRO: Paul Mann / Keith Wakeley.   PenMACRA: Jon Whiteley / Roger King.   YDRP and NESRA (NEYDRA): Jon Beavan / Iain Nixon / Ben Carter.   Ireland (MRI): Seamus Bradley.   Police Control Rooms and RAF SAR Force: Dave Roberts-Simcock (RAF Valley).