A NSW Government investment of $53.5 million is delivering future proofed equipment for State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers including new handheld and vehicle radios and radio technology. Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the five-year SES Operational Communication Equipment and Systems (OCES) Project delivers better radio communications to assist volunteers to communicate with each other and other emergency services in emergencies and disasters.

“This major upgrade means our volunteers are safer and can better respond to impacted communities,” Mr Grant said. “The OCES Project has delivered more than 5,000 new radios into the hands of volunteers, and helped reduce significant communication blackspots, particularly in the south west. “In a state the size of NSW, technology can reduce the tyranny of distance and as better technology becomes available, we want to make sure our volunteers stay connected when it counts.

“Our NSW SES are on hand to help out when Mother Nature strikes or an incident occurs and the NSW Government is ensuring volunteers have the best tools available to undertake their work,” Mr Grant said.The Project has seen 131 SES vehicles fitted with automatic vehicle location devices, enabling timelier tasking in emergencies and improved volunteer safety. The project has also delivered modern printers and plotters into SES Units across the State, as well as vital network and portable repeater upgrades.

In remote areas in the far west of the State such as Broken Hill, Cobar, White Cliffs, Brewarrina and Menindee, the project is delivering Digital High-Frequency radio technology, which enables communications throughout regional and remote communities and to the NSW SES State Operations Centre.NSW SES Commissioner, Mark Smethurst said the delivery of the OCES Project was already making a difference, with improvements in connectivity and member safety.

“Good communications are essential so our volunteers can undertake their role of responding to flood, storm and other emergency jobs, quickly and efficiently,” Commissioner Smethurst said.“More than 9,000 volunteers are being trained to use the new radios, which are lighter and more robust and have an emergency duress capability, GPS location, and longer battery life.”

Member for North Sydney Felicity Wilson said new radios are being used in all NSW SES volunteer units, from Bega to Ballina and Narromine to North Sydney.“The NSW SES North Sydney Unit is just one of over 250 volunteer Units to see the benefits, receiving eight new handheld and three vehicle radios,” Ms Wilson said.

As part of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s commitment to supporting emergency management in developing countries, it is gifting two thousand of the Service’s legacy radios and communications equipment to various Pacific Island emergency services and not for profit organisations.