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National Police Air Service Downlink Improves Incident Response

The West Midlands’ fire and ambulance services are set to access ‘live’ downlink footage from police helicopters and planes aiding safe resolution of incidents

Downlink link up!

The West Midlands’ fire and ambulance services are set to access ‘live’ footage from police helicopters and planes, helping them to resolve incidents safely.

New downlink technology will enable West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) and West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to view video streams from National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopters and aeroplanes.

Receivers in incident command vehicles will give officers on the ground a bird’s eye view, helping them to assess situations, direct resources and keep the public and their crews safe.

NPAS’s 19 aircraft can broadcast live, encrypted images to police control rooms across England and Wales, boosting dynamic decision making. Access is now being extended to the West Midlands’ emergency services.

National Police Air Service Helicopter in flight

Group Commander Richard Moore, of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “We’re really excited to be linking up with our ambulance and police colleagues for this downlink project. It’s the latest innovation in our drive to keep our communities safe with a digital and data-driven approach.

“We’ve been trialling our own drones for a year, so appreciate how an aerial dimension can complement our work on the ground. The NPAS partnership will help our decision making as we bring incidents to a safe resolution.”

Cameron McVittie, Tactical Incident Commander with West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “The addition of the airborne data link into our command toolbox will be a fantastic asset to ensure that, as a multi-agency command team, we can make the best decisions to keep our patients and staff safe at incidents – particularly with significant events coming up, such as the Commonwealth Games in the region this summer.”

PC Neil Cuffe, NPAS tactical flight training officer and mission systems expert said: “The system invaluable in assisting commanders to make critical decisions on how to appropriately direct resources and manage the scene of an incident. It is widely used by police forces and will be hugely beneficial for our fire and ambulance colleagues as we work together to protect the public.”

WMFS and WMAS have invested in Enterprise Control Systems’ downlink receivers for the initiative. NPAS has developed a training package for both fire and ambulance personnel.

Colin Waite, UK Police Business Development Manager at Enterprise Control Systems said: “The ability to receive live high-quality video and data has always been key for the security and emergency organisations we work with. Now with more collaborative and joint operations, not only is it essential to have interoperable voice communications, but the ability to share situational awareness information which will be key in being able to resolve incidents efficiently and safely.”

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