Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008
BT Emergency Response Team – ERT
Update - Recovery Team
Party 6 - the ERT network recovery team arrived in Kangaamiut 23rd August. Their task - to recover and pack for shipping all Expedition network communications equipment back to the UK.
The team was made up of Rob Heslop, Roy Brooksbank, Chris Turner, Susie Wilkie, a straight talking, and firey lass from Falkirk and me, George Johnson.
On the 24th, after a brief handover the whole team deployed to Tassi Bay base camp to divide into two teams. One team of f Susie and Roy, led by Rob tasked to breakdown and recover the infamous ‘Geordie Point’ the other, of myself and Chris to recover the more easier accessible sites at ‘Ice Camp’ and Tassi Bay.
Ice Camp and Tassi Bay presented little problems. However, the work of carrying heavy loads from each site location down rock and lose stone slope to the shore line for loading was exhausting and carried real risks, if not done with care.
The site at Geordies Point offered a greater set of challenges. It was located on prominent peak approx 250 metre above the fiord. The route to Geordies Point was winding and diverse. Part of the route was steep gorse covered rock, leading to various track ways that could only be scrambled across with the aid of ropes, followed by steep narrow lose rock pathways that picked their way to the summit and the key network site.
Robs plan to recover the ‘Geordie Point’ site was to divide the down route into three stages. Rob requested help from Maj john HW to assist with rigging a slide wire and rope lines over the treacherous mid stage. Maj John HW, Capt Matt Ladbrook and Capt John Griffis responded and assisted Rob to rig the wires and rope and also helped with carrying kit down stage one.
With the weather beginning to change for the worse, on the third day myself and Chris joined Rob’s team to bring all the remaining equipment down to the shore line from ‘Geordies Point’ summit. Day four, with the recovery work at ‘Geordies Point completed, Susie and I moved back to Tassi Bay to sort and pack kit, Rob, Roy and Chris travelled to BT Island to recover the relay site. On completion of the work at BT Island, Rob’s team move to Kangaamuit to join the Whaler hired to pick up and transport all communications equipment back to Kangaamiut for packing.
Day 5 the Whaler set out of Kangaamiut with Robs Team aboard to pick up equipment from each site. Picking up equipment from each site was also a major operation as the Whaler’s draft prevented it getting close inshore, requiring all the kit to be ferried to Whaler from the shore line using small boats.
Day 6 with all the equipment from the fiord sites safely on the dock at Kangaarmuit. The team set out to carry out the final site recovery from Kangaamiut heights. This was completed with daylight hours and equipment transported down to Kangaamiut and the within the day.
To summarise the recovery of all the equipment, it was an exhausting operation, the team shown enthusiasm determination and tenacity and a wide range of skills to complete it on target. However, we could not have completed the work without the help and support of Anders and David our guides and who worked long hours ferrying kit and our team
More new pictures in the ERT Gallery
The ERT was formed in 2005, with over 3500 people from all parts of the UK expressing an interest and applying for the 24 posts. Candidates applied from all parts of BT, bringing their skills and qualities to the team.
The team’s primary objective is to maintain the BT Critical National Infrastructure in support of Government, the Emergency Services and Civil Authorities in the event of terrorist actions or serious incidents, involving hazardous materials. To carry out this role the team is required to train and exercise alongside units of the Military, Police, Fire and Ambulance Services.
During formation of the team the 7/7 London bombings took place, and elements of the team were placed on standby to respond. More recently, the ERT were deployed to Gloucester supporting the flood relief and placed on standby for potential flooding in Norfolk and Suffolk.
The team has a secondary key role, to provide International Disaster Relief as part of BT’s Corporate Social Responsibility. It will deploy overseas to places where communications are needed to support aid agencies or humanitarian disaster relief.
BT successfully delivered humanitarian relief communications in Kosovo, Bosnia, Asian Tsunami and the Pakistan Earthquake. Delivery of humanitarian relief is now an integral part of the team’s remit, having also been placed on standby to deploy for the recent Bangladesh flooding disaster.
BT – Ex Midnight Sun
Early in 2007 the BT ERT was approached with a proposal to provide the total communications package for Midnight Sun. Considering BT is also the prime sponsors, it meant a considerable further investment from BT in manpower and equipment. The ERT took up the challenge, acquired the appropriate budget, began designing a comms plan, deployed a recce team to Greenland alongside the military planning team and began researching equipment that would deliver the communications plan.
The ERT will deploy a total of 16 engineers in total. A team of 4 will deploy at the beginning of the expedition, to build a network into Eternity Fjord using a mixture of microwave and satcom equipment, terminating at the various advance base camps along the Fjord. This team will be followed by overlapping maintenance teams of 2 for continuity and at the end, a network recovery team, to breakdown, pack and ship kit back to UK. These 16 engineers will be supplemented by 4 R Signals personnel. These R Signals personnel will be selected following the ERT Training weekend in February, and will deploy with ERT engineering teams to Greenland, to assist with maintenance and to cross transfer skills and knowledge.
Furthermore, in each activity team 1 military person will be identified as the comms expert. Prior to deployment to Greenland, the ERT will provide specialist comms training to these people, as part of the training and development weekends. Once in Greenland, activity teams that strike out away from the advance base camps will be provided with comprehensive set of mobile communications equipment that will allow video, voice and data to be sent back to either the main base at Kangaamiut or the UK. The comms expert within that team will be responsible for the use and maintenance of this equipment.
The ERT will carry out a number of experiments in the use of renewal energy power sources to power equipment at relay sites and base camps, as part of BT’s initiative to develop clean energy sources.
This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate ERT capabilities. The ERT will work alongside Royal Signals personnel to transfer skills, knowledge and experience, providing a valuable contribution to an extremely worthwhile expedition.
For further information
Contact George Johnson Tel. 0207 079 5679