New satellite phone for St John

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Emergency communication in Teviot Valley will be improved thanks to the Roxburgh and Districts Lions club.

A portable satellite phone has been given to the Order of St John Roxburgh, enabling emergency response workers to be tracked en route through position updates and geofencing.

It can provide exact location co-ordinates to anyone, from anywhere on the surface of the planet.

St John Roxburgh station manager Joanne Rae said the phones would help save lives.

During the floods in the Teviot Valley last November, she was cut off in her home in Millers Flat.

“We lost all power and all communications; we had no landline, we had no cellphone.”

Despite being on call for the ambulance, she was “marooned” at her home.

“I couldn’t communicate with anyone so it was like ‘what am I going to do?”‘

Now, with the portable satellite phone, a situation like that could be avoided, she said.

“We can communicate throughout the valley now.

A second phone had been given to the Millers Flat fire service.

Chief Fire Officer Brian Timpson said the phone would be “invaluable in the execution of our duties”.

Three handheld satellite communicators with GPS navigation had also been provided to Central Otago LandSAR.

Its operations manager, Adrian Dance, said there was very little coverage in the valley, and generally no cellphone coverage in the mountains.

The new devices were able to send a GPS location by text message, assisting teams in the field, Mr Dance said.