Gelsenkirchen's fire department is ready for the 2006 football World Cup: firefighters in eight stations are now alerted using the digital e*BOS alerting network operated by e*Message. Volunteer firefighters, rescue services and other civil defence agencies will also use the network in the near future. According to a decision taken last summer by the German telecommunications authority (Reg TP), alerting messages are to be sent throughout the country on a frequency band reserved exclusively for civil defence agencies.
The city of Gelsenkirchen has decided to alert its professional firefighters using the digital e*BOS alerting network operated by e*Message, following the example set a few weeks ago by the Osnabrück district. As of January, 2005, the rescue services (including ambulance teams, fire brigades, high-rise rescue teams, emergency doctors and rescue officers) can receive alerting messages sent over the e*BOS network. The German telecommunications authority (Reg TP) recently decided to reserve a frequency band for communications among the country's civil defence agencies.
The analog network previously operated in Gelsenkirchen did not provide area-wide alerting, and auxiliary fire brigades often complained that communication was impossible in concrete buildings, for example. Emergency doctors likewise complained that they could not receive alerting messages in basements, x-ray and tomography rooms. The new e*BOS alerting network not only solves these problems, but also relieves the analog network, which can remain in use for voice communication since it is no longer used for alerting messages.
“We were in search of a manageable technological solution that could be integrated to the existing rescue control center, and would remain operational even in case of a fault in the main computer,” said Ralf Kastrup, manager of the communication resources at Gelsenkirchen's fire department. “This was a key factor in our decision, together with low operating costs, rapid message delivery, high network availability, and improved reachability thanks to powerful transmitting stations with high antennas. Furthermore, the new network uses the international POCSAG protocol, provides redundant alerting, and permits customized pagers.”
Portability is another asset of the e*BOS network, which is important since Gelsenkirchen's fire department is set to open a new command post this year. “In spite of tight budgets, alerting with global reachability was a requirement for the 2006 World Cup – and it is available now,” Kastrup continued. Volunteer firefighters and other civil defence agencies are also to be equipped with e*BOS pagers in the near future.
A special working group has been set up to ensure optimum preparation of the five matches to be played in Gelsenkirchen during the 2006 World Cup. Scenarios are being developed based on high-risk matches played by Gelsenkirchen’s own FC Schalke 04, one of the favourite teams for the next German championship. Kastrup: “Of course we are expecting to work overtime during the World Cup. But we have reasons to be glad in 2005 and 2006: the new e*BOS alerting network, a new command post, the World Cup in Gelsenkirchen, and maybe even FC Schalke 04 as the next German champion …”.