Annual Review stories Community stories: 10 November 2022
Access to reliable, high quality mobile phone coverage is important for everyday activities. But it is critical when it comes to the lifesaving activities that the Freycinet Volunteer Marine Rescue Association undertake on a regular basis.
Based in Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast, the Association’s base is located on low lying Council land, which impacts the mobile phone signal from the local Telstra tower as it requires a direct line of sight for best coverage. The building is steel framed and clad, further blocking the already weak mobile signal. This meant members had to go outside of the building to obtain a mobile signal, which at best was two bars. Going outside to check the Bureau of Meteorology website prior to launching a rescue vessel involved waiting several minutes to access a signal and the important weather data.
COVID exacerbated the need for a mobile booster to provide stronger and more reliable mobile coverage as member training, which the Australia Maritime Safety Authority requires to be to the same standard as commercial mariners, had to move to Zoom sessions. Zoom provided additional benefits by allowing members the opportunity to remain connected and still have timely input into the Association’s activities.
Another challenge was that family members could not contact volunteers if they were inside the building. If there was an incident or accident while working within the building, there was also no way to make an emergency call without going outside – potentially leaving an injured member unattended.
A $2,244 grant from FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, funded by a private donor, supported the installation of the mobile booster. The project, described by the Association as ”one of our best projects in over 20 years of operation”, resolved all the issues of being able to access reliable, high quality mobile coverage in the Association’s building.
Results after installation showed 100% signal strength inside the building, providing a safety net for volunteers working on site and enhancing community safety, as information on emergency situations can now be accessed without delay.
For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.