Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

BT Emergency Response Team – ERTBT ERT

 

Update - Saturday 24 August

 

So what has been happening in the world of BT ERT in the last week? Kirk and the VIPs left last Sunday, whilst Anton, Gary and Sophie headed into the Fjord with the exped guys leaving Mark to man the house.

 

Geordies pointThe weather decided to turn just as we hit the Fjord and remained wet for most of our time out there. Sunday shortly after arrival Anton and Gary moved across to Geordies Point whilst I remained at Tasi Bay to issue out the Comms kit and train the guys how to use it. Monday dawned wet and after dropping one group off at Igimasaq, I headed to Geordies Point and swapped with Gary who was heading down to Ice Camp to restart the site. Gary would spend the next two nights and day there whilst Anton and myself ended up back at the house in Kangaamiut for a few hours having trekked up to Geordies’ Point and visited BT Island before hand. We spent the night at Tasi Bay needing to do some modifications to the site there the next day.

 

Weds dawned brighter and Anton and I were picked up by David for the trip to Ice Camp to “rescue” Gary. We headed up the Fjord as the skies remained blue and the clouds disappeared. The Glacier dominates the fjord and the nearer you get to it the more dominant and larger it becomes. We arrived at Ice Camp, headed up to the site to do a little bit of work before getting back onto the zodiac. David took us up to the face of the glacier where cameras were over used before heading back down the fjord to Geordies Point. By the time we reached there it was a glorious day and we were finally able to enjoy some of the warm weather the previous teams had been waxing lyrical about. Gary decided he would take advantage of the sun and took a swim in the Fjord.

Thursday dawned wet and windy and whilst the “boys” headed up to the comms site, I tidied camp, worked out what was where for the next team. When the boys returned it wasn’t long before Anders came and picked us up for the return to Kangaamiut – our time in the Fjord was coming to an end. We clambered aboard the zodiac and met David mid fjord where I did yet another comedy boat manoeuvre – not my strong point getting into and out of zodiacs! Apparently Anders decided to ditch me as the dis and embarkation at the Island was going to be hairy! As Anders, Gary and Anton headed off to the Island to make a final refueling check David and I waited to ferry some exped guys back to Tasi Bay from Iggy before meeting the other boat somewhere in the Fjord before heading into Kangaamiut. The fjord wasn’t the calmest I had seen it and there was a fair bit of bouncing around, but it soon became apparent that was nothing compared to what was coming.


We headed out of the Fjord into the more open waters at the end, round to Kangaamiut. To say the water was rough is a slight understatement and it is fair to say I was hanging on to the rope with both hands very tightly as we crossed. When we stopped Anton and Gary found the look on my face very amusing, I’m not sure if it was still showing fear or relief! I have to admit to finding that Zodiac ride quite terrifying and yet exhilarating at the same time!

Back at Kangaamiut we made use of the showers before enjoying a Swedish starter of Pickled Herring and potatoes made by Anders and David and followed by the British favourite stew!


Friday Team 6 – George, Rob, Roy, Chris and Susie, the recovery team arrived and by Saturday morning were already heading out into the Fjord.

 

So it is now Sunday and Team 5 have left for Maniitsoq and ultimately home, whilst Team 6 are at Ice Camp starting the recovery process, leaving me here minding the fort until Tuesday when George should return and Paul Rogers, the final TA attachment to the ERT arrives from the UK.

 

More new pictures in the ERT Gallery


 

ERT Background

 

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.

ERT Training.

 

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.

 

ERT on operations in London

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.ERT team on recce. 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.

 

Link 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, System Planactivity 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