West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has launched a brand new bespoke incident command vehicle with the latest technology to deal with major and prolonged incidents. With technology integration and satellite services provided by Excelerate, this state-of-the-art unit will provide a communications hub and base for the Ambulance Service’s commanders at the scene for the duration of an incident.

Unveiled on the Excelerate stand at the 2015 Emergency Services Show, Birmingham NEC, the Ambulance command vehicle was likened to a ‘mobile mini headquarters’ that would be sent to support air, rail or multi vehicle incidents, or more prolonged incidents such as flooding within the West Midlands region.

Before cutting the ribbon at the launch of the vehicle at the show, Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh said:

“It is really important for me and all of our Board that we have the very best equipment to keep our staff safe and enable them to provide the best care, the best treatment and the best service for our patients should the worst happen in the West Midlands.”

The unit enables a Tactical command post to be deployed at the incident ground housing operators and commanders and to accommodate multi agency responses where required. It will also provide West Midlands Ambulance Service with a command training suite.

Steve Wheaton, Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, West Midlands Ambulance Service comments:

‘We are pleased to announce further investment in our emergency preparedness capability with the delivery of the Trust’s command and control vehicle. The new unit will enhance our current operation to ensure we are fully prepared to respond to significant incidents should anything untoward occur.

This state-of-the-art incident command unit will enable improved co-ordination and multi-agency co-operation, enhanced resilience, emergency preparedness and informed command in all environments, now and into the future.”

Vehicle specification and operational areas

The vehicle is designed on a 7.5 ton Isuzu chassis, with custom slide out side pods. It houses a conference/briefing room facility with seating for up to nine people. This area is equipped with a conference table, briefing screens, video and phone conferencing unit and eight operational laptop positions.

A separate operational area houses two work stations with fixed PC’s and peripherals, with Airwave radio and VoIP handsets. The vehicle features an external 46” interactive touch screen that is used for team briefings. 

Resilient & remote communications

The command unit will utilise multiple communications bearers – 3G, 4G and Excelerate’s KU Enhanced Resilience Satellite Network – to transmit and receive data, video, and voice as well as to enable operational personnel to access back office systems.

The integration of multiple communications bearers will support West Midlands Ambulance Service with resilient and remote communications at all times, enabling business continuity and real time incident management with automated failover provision.

On-board cameras and video

The command vehicle is equipped with a ‘Sherpa’ unit, which is Excelerate’s automatic pole climbing camera delivery system.  Sherpa is fitted with an optical IR camera incorporating COFDM technology (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), which enables real time video sharing over high signal loss areas, such as in mountainous or built up locations.

A roof mounted optical IR camera on a telescopic 5-metre mast extends coverage within the incident ground and allows the surveillance of wide areas. Designed for use in harsh and challenging environments, the mast-mounted camera enables the transmission of high quality images in real time at distances in excess of a kilometre.

A future proof eight channel video server has been integrated on-board which supports the streaming of video back to HQ and other authorised locations, and will record all channels at high resolution automatically. The video server is capable of simultaneously displaying, recording, reviewing and exporting images meaning that recording will not stop if images need to be reviewed at an incident.

With its comprehensive range of cameras and video streaming capability, the command vehicle will not only support more informed command for West Midlands Ambulance Service in its own right, but will also service multi agency responses across the region.

Integrated systems management

 Excelerate’s DDMI (Digital Dashboard Management Interface) supports ease of use of all the on-board systems including the vehicle set up protocols. The DDMI combines all systems into one interface allowing operational personnel to control, monitor and analyse every aspect of incident response from one place – with no IT expertise required.

It will be from the command unit at the scene, using data from its raft of equipment that real-time decisions about the handling of an incident can be made.

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