Digital & IT

Published: April 12, 2022 | Updated: April 13, 2022

Ultrafast full fibre broadband provides a vital lifeline for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Norton Maby (Installation Engineer) and Michael Rose (Installation Engineer Apprentice), alongside the DSAA crew of Ben Channon, Kev Rutherford, Jonny Price and Tom Ghee.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Every second counts when Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) is working to save lives 19 hours a day for 365 days a year.

And secure, reliable and ultrafast communications are crucial to the operation.

Now, thanks to Wessex Internet, DSAA can carry out its work to the optimum, with the help of an efficient internet connection installed for free.

James Gibson Fleming, pictured left, Founder of the specialist rural internet provider, was instrumental in providing the full fibre broadband connection to the Henstridge Airfield base.

As a qualified pilot, as well as the owner of a rural business, he understood the challenges that the air ambulance team were facing.

A reliable, uninterruptable internet connection is critical for the team’s operations, both on the ground and in the air.

Adverse weather, medical conditions, difficult terrain and remote locations all add to the challenges faced on a daily basis.

James said: “As the air ambulance is so important to everyone in our Wessex Internet coverage area, our civils team dropped everything to get this link in.

“It was no mean feat.

“We needed to cross 5km of the wettest farm land in the Blackmore Vale.

“We snatched some dry weather and got two plough teams to work simultaneously to complete the link in just two days.

“We’re delighted to have made it happen and connect the air ambulance to the ultimate ultrafast fibre.

“We love a challenge – and are always up for delivering a result like this when it comes to our in-house build teams who have more experience of crossing farmland than any other network builder.”

As a registered charity relying on public funding, the cost of a full fibre connection was a big consideration, so the DSAA team was delighted when Wessex Internet offered to arrange the installation free of charge.

Bill Sivewright, CEO, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, pictured, said: “Getting to patients quickly, safely and efficiently, not surprisingly, requires access to the latest information from a number of different sources.

“However, we are increasingly reliant on fast and reliable internet communications for every aspect of our operations, from sharing vital clinical or aviation information, to education, governance and logistics.

“The introduction of full-fibre to our airbase represents a real investment into the future of our communications.

“Wessex Internet have been supporting us for a number of years and this most recent upgrade to our system is a clear demonstration of their enduring support and generosity for which we are incredibly grateful.”

Paul Owen, Operations Manager, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, said: “Having a reliable and fast internet connection ensures that all the planning that is necessary during inclement weather and particularly during the night can be conducted quickly and in a reliable manner.

“The entire process of installing this state-of-the-art technology, including the digging and burrowing underground, to the teams working on both the inside and outside of the building went extremely smoothly.

“From start to finish it could not have been better and the internet now works beautifully.”

The Wessex Internet civils team of Charlie Ormerod, Reece Smallman, Chris Line, Andrew Tory, Ben Mason, Josh Best and Ed Snowball were the team cutting across the airfield ground.