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O2 Airwave wins national ambulance deal

Antony Savvas

O2 Airwave has won a 13-year £390m contract to provide a communication service to ambulance trusts across England.

The dedicated digital radio service is already used by UK police forces, and the British Transport Police were able to use Airwave in the aftermath of the London bombs after public mobile networks were overloaded or taken out of action to aid the emergency services.  

The Scottish and Welsh ambulance services are due to select a new communications system in the near future, and O2 is bidding for these contracts too.

The English service will see ambulance crews able to access a number of specialist data services to aid their work, in addition to the voice service. 

Data services include alert paging, resource/incident location and mobilisation messaging. The mobile network will also feed onboard equipment with the incident location co-ordinates, details about the patient, nature of the incident and other text-based information.  

To improve patient care, paramedics will also be able to transmit an emergency patient health record, including patient vital signs and electrocardiogram rhythms, ahead to the receiving hospital. 

Standard handsets and frequencies on the Airwave network will enable ambulance staff to communicate with police officers at incidents.

The ambulance contract covers radio terminals, the migration of existing mobile data applications to work on the new digital network, and the establishment of new integrated communications control systems. 

The Hereford and Worcester ambulance service has already trialled the service. 

Russell Hamilton, chief executive of Hereford and Worcester ambulance service, said, “Our use of this technology puts Hereford and Worcester ambulance service at the leading edge of pre-hospital care in the country.”

The contract win comes as O2 competes for a similar contract to support communications in the UK fire service.


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