The Virgin Islands VHF Emergency Network is being strengthened with improved transmission capabilities and 75 new VHF handsets ahead of the height of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Emergency Communications Manager at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Jasen Penn said that in the coming weeks the department will be distributing handsets to critical locations around the Territory, such as fire stations, Customs, Immigration and offices on the Sister Islands.
Mr. Penn said, “Some of these offices, which are vital to making sure that different areas of the Territory maintain contact after an emergency, have been relying heavily on their mobile devices since Irma. The radio network is now much more resilient and we want to make sure that it’s accessible to those who need it ahead of the height of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.”
In addition to the new handsets, the Territory’s transmission network is poised to be improved with new or upgraded repeaters, the tower-top technology that sends signals between handsets.
“We have a new repeater to be installed on Sabbath Hill, which will improve communications between Tortola and Virgin Gorda,” Mr. Penn explained, adding that Jost Van Dyke and North Sound will also receive new repeaters, while the Challwell repeater, which facilitates communications with Anegada, is set to be upgraded.
Of the new handsets, 30 were donated by the Governor’s Office, and a further 45 were purchased with funds from the CDB Recovery and Rehabilitation Loan obtained by the Government following the impacts of 2017.
The department expects a full complement of participants for the land-based VHF Radio training course taking place today July 30 and Wednesday, July 31. Further radio training sessions are scheduled for select Government departments in August.
The VHF Radio Network is a critical component of the National Multi-Hazard Alert System managed by the DDM.