Case Study: The North Yorkshire Ambulance Service uses cutting edge UPS technology

This system has been designed with many emergency contingencies in case of disaster.At the core of this fallback system are a...

This system has been designed with many emergency contingencies in case of disaster.At the core of this fallback system are a number of different types of UPS devices

The Tees and North Yorkshire ambulance service offers emergency services to several million people covering over 4,000 square miles. The use of cutting edge technology has helped to deliver a first class service. With all these critical electronic systems in place, a comprehensive disaster recovery system sits in the background, protecting the service from any unforeseen problems.

The TENYAS control centres use a custom computer system, created with hardware and software from a multitude of vendors. The system works like this: A call is made to the centre, at which point the operator determines the name of the caller, nature of the emergency and the location of the incident. To assist in this process, the system has complete map of every location, within the Tees - North Yorkshire area. Once all these facts have been ascertained, the operator now selects the most appropriate ambulance to attend the incident.

Each ambulance contains a tracking device, which pinpoints its current location, within 50 metres. It also electronically announces its current status, which range from a "Ready" to "En route state" to a "Returning to base" condition. With all this information, the operator selects an ambulance and then electronically sends a message to it. This message will contain information covering what type of incident the crew needs to attend, the location and who to contact there. This message is sent via wireless system and viewed on a unit inside the vehicle. The information is stored inside the system and once read by the crew, a confirmation is sent back to the control centre. The data system carried by the ambulance offers many advantages over crews having to talk over the radio and write down all the details of an incident while on the move. There are no incidents of calls being missed and it provides a hard copy of all the incidents the ambulance has been ordered to attend, providing an accurate account of the day-to-day operation of each crew.

This system has been designed with many emergency contingencies in case of disaster. At the core of this fallback system are a number of different types of UPS devices.

David Johnson, IT manager for the North Yorkshire division of TENYAS, designed and implemented large portions of the command and control structure. Johnson explains about his decision in respect to purchasing Uninterruptible power supply products: "We need UPS devices to handle the load required by all the devices in our control centre, until the standby generators could come on line."

The primary and backup servers are permanently attached to a number of UPS systems as well as other power management products. Surge protectors use a fast-acting fuse that reacts quickly to lightning strikes and other catastrophic surge events. In addition, a thermal fuse shuts the system down in the event of dangerous wiring faults. In both cases, the device actually blocks errant power from reaching the equipment if the surge components are damaged. Both the telephone system and control systems use high-rate UPSs, which can maintain power for up to an hour. This protection is used during the switch over to a self-contained remote generator.

As well as multiple UPS devices protecting the system, each component also has a level of redundancy built into the overall system. Johnson explains: "We are currently in the process of combining the three separate control rooms together in to an overall structure - this adds further levels of safety into our system. Each of these control rooms can take over the workload of any other centres, in an emergency."

TENYAS has a need for high fault tolerance in their mission critical systems. The use of UPS technology has played an active role in protecting the system, but is only part of a much wider solution. Johnson and his team, carries out the regular maintenance and testing of the system, to maintain reliability and improve the performance of the ambulance service.

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