With more than 36,000 members across 59 affiliated surf life saving clubs in six branches throughout Queensland, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) is one of the largest volunteer based community organisations in Australia.
For an organization whose member’s work on the fundamental principle of saving lives across 6,089km of Queensland coastline comprising more than 700 accessible beaches, radio communications is critical to SLSQ’s operations.
Recently, ACMA, the Federal Government authority for radio communications, has mandated that 400 MHz band radio channel licences be narrow banded by 31st December 2012 in high-density areas and 2015 for medium and low density areas.
Narrow banding is the process of changing licence conditions and the physical operating bandwidth of radio equipment from 25 KHz channels to 12.5 KHz channels. SLSQ currently operate 25 KHz bandwidth channels across their network. As a result, all SLSQ radio communications equipment required narrow banding.
With a long-standing history with SLSQ, AA Radio was the first choice to carry out this important project. The first location of the two-stage narrow banding project was South East Queensland.
AA Radio’s Project Team worked closely with SLSQ to coordinate all the clubs and support services in South East Queensland to ensure a smooth transition for the several hundred radio terminals comprising 36 models from 8 manufacturers.
In conjunction with the terminals, the repeater’s covering the region from Double Is Point in the North to the Queensland and New South Wales border had to be narrow banded. The process included narrow banding existing repeaters, all terminals, changes to CTCSS, program all equipment with the new ANI & Band Plan, build a comprehensive database and cull all terminals out of SLSQ specification.
In addition to SLSQ equipment, the project also included associated organisations such Coastguard, Lifeguards and the AGL helicopter. Managing user confidence was a key priority for the AA Radio Project Team. A Change Management program was implemented to ensure all stakeholders received relevant information on the changes to the radio communications equipment.
AA Radio also held several dedicated training sessions with SLSQ Clubs along the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to support all members understanding of the project.
With the launch of the 2011/12-patrol season on September 17, the beaches of South East Queensland were busy with holidaymakers enjoying the first day of the summer school holidays.
SLSQ members patrolled beaches safe in the knowledge that their radio communications equipment had been narrow banded, updated with the latest ANI & Band Plan and returned to them on time for the new season.
AA Radio continues to work closely with SLSQ (and other Life Saving organisations across Australia and New Zealand) on numerous specialized projects and is proud to work so closely with an organization dedicated to performing vital life saving services.