Posted on April 9, 2019 by staff

Faster broadband for cave rescuers who saved Thai football team


Cavers in South Wales are to benefit from a new ‘digital safety net’.

The South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team’s (SMWCRT) depot, in Penwyllt above the Swansea valley, is being fitted with a faster, more reliable and future proof broadband connection from Openreach.

The team recently gained international recognition for supporting the successful rescue of the Moo Pa young football team and their coach from a cave in Thailand.

The new connectivity is designed to help improve its search and rescue capabilities.

With fibre now being connected directly from the local exchange to their depot, the rescue team will have access to some of the fastest internet speeds in the country and be able to utilise valuable online rescue software.

The team expects the connection to enable all of its 180 members to be contacted simultaneously at the touch of a button when their rescue skills are needed next.

The new connection will also mean the team can access vital real-time data, such as localised weather forecasts, which could help save valuable time in a rescue operation, and potentially lives.

The new connection has been made possible by building on top of the infrastructure that was developed by the Superfast Cymru programme which was jointly funded by Openreach, Welsh Government and UK Government.

“South Wales is an attractive location for cavers with a passion for exploring as it has some of the deepest and longest caves in the UK,” said Dan Thorne, Chair of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team.

“When we are called out we have to mobilise the right resources, to the right location in a timely manner.

“With an ultrafast broadband connection, which wasn’t available to us until now, our surface controllers can now be based at our depot in Penwyllt, and can be confident that the information they need is available in super fast speed”.

With a potential drive time in excess of two hours to a rescue scene, the ability to track the whereabouts of volunteers in relation to an incident, in real time is seen as a key benefit of the new ultrafast broadband connection.

In addition to traditional cave rescues, the team were also involved in the high-profile search for April Jones and provide technical support to mountain rescue teams as well as assisting in animal rescues and road traffic incidents.