Radio 'hams' to the rescue

by Adam Smith
News Reporter

Dedicated amateur radio enthusiasts helped raise the alarm after fire swept through Sutton Park as hundreds of children were orienteering in the dark.

The incident happened at 1.50am last Sunday morning during the yearly Birmingham Youth Service Sutton Park Night Operation where 61 teams of 4 found 26 checkpoints from 12 midnight onwards.

The Sutton branch of the Radio Amateurs' Emergency Network (RAYNET) were on hand at every checkpoint and their quick thinking helped raise the alarm, pinpoint the fire and check if all the children were safe.

Chairman of Sutton RAYNET John Trickey explained they have helped with the event for over 30 years.

"The fact that we had members at different checkpoints we could call the fire brigade and tell them exactly where the fire was.

"The police asked us to cover the event and with RAYNET members coming with their kit from across the Midlands we can ensure it passes off safely"

RAYNET set up a control centre and broadcast messages throughout the park to the all the various checkpoints so the organisers could pinpoint each teams' location.

Judith Florey, from Clifton Road Youth Centre, explained the Sutton Park Night Operation was a great success.

"It takes a great deal of organisation to make the event a success and the children completed the challenge and arrived back to the centre safely," she said.

"It was lovely that there were children from across the city in 61 teams and there really was a fantastic atmosphere in the youth centre all night.