BT’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) provides a proactive and reactive capability to deal with threats to our fixed and mobile networks in the UK. In recent years these have been dominated by extreme weather events, typically flooding. We proactively attempt to protect critical assets considered at risk, and if that fails, seek to help restore service as quickly as possible. In parallel, we strive to help affected communities by providing them with emergency communications facilities until normal service can be resumed.

The ERT is composed of a small core team supported by a large UK wide team of specialist trained volunteers drawn from across the business. The volunteers must be able to use their existing knowledge, along with specialist ERT skills, ensuring that they are always ready to support operational deployments.

ERT vehicles in action
ERT vehicles in action

Specialist skills

The team is trained in the following disciplines:

  • LANTRA 4x4 Off Road
  • Flood Operators for Emergency workers
  • Swift Water Rescue Technician
  • Confined Spaces/Confined Space rescue
  • Flat Roof
  • Aerial Rigging
  • Breathing Apparatus
  •  Bronze Commander
  • Flood POD
  • First Response Emergency Care
  • Forced Entry Tools
  • Airwave / Emergency Services Network (ESN)  

Breathing apparatus

The ERT can deploy into an oxygen depleted environment using breathing apparatus (BA) capability. This can be enhanced to a chemical environment with the use of the limited life gas type suit (LLGTS).

ERT team wearing breathing apparatus
ERT team wearing breathing apparatus

ERT team wearing breathing apparatus
ERT team wearing breathing apparatus

Site access and power/lighting

We also hold a selection of generators and distribution equipment at both ERT locations, which can provide 110v or 240v power and lighting at deployed locations.

This equipment is transported to site using the ERT Logistics Vehicle.

All ERT communication vehicles are equipped with a generator and lighting, capable of setting up cordons on BT property. They can provide onsite command and control for an incident, supporting the FCPM. The team can also provide entry control to restrict unauthorised entry into BT buildings and assets.

The ERT can operate in many high-risk environments such as working at height. Most volunteers are flat roof trained as a minimum, this is so they can carry out emergency installations at height, but some individuals also receive specialist training in confined space and radio and rigging.

Emergency Control Centre (ECC)

The ECC is designed to deliver a command and control work centre to any UK incident and provide communications, to assist the FCPM, with the co-ordination and Command & Control, as part of the restoration process.

All vehicles have satellite communications and can operate independently of the BT network. Four of the ECC units have been upgraded (Manchester, Cambridge, Newcastle and Inverness) to include an enhanced satellite system, Cisco unified voice and data service, video conferencing and WIFI.

ERT vehicles in action
ERT vehicles in action

Flood PODs

All ERT personnel are flood operator trained and the team have the capability for swift water rescue and flood management. The team are all issued with appropriate Protection Equipment to work in a flood water environment.

The ERT have access to mobile flood PODs, which are located throughout the UK.

The flood POD contains pumps, barriers, flood sacks and ancillaries for managing flood water and for preventing water ingress into BT buildings and external cabinets.

Each pod has the capability to provide protection against the ingress of water to approximately 10m wide and 0.9m high.

ERT vehicles in action
ERT vehicles in action

These are 4.0m rescue craft and fitted with 30HP marine outboard engines which give them the capability to operate in both tidal and fast flowing water. The boats can carry essential equipment safely and effectively to and from flooded buildings in and around flood zones, they are operated by ERT trained boat operators.

ERT vehicles in action
ERT vehicles in action

ERT at work

We can respond to any incident as a first on scene responder to feedback an initial situation report, providing pictures and video as required to the MIM. We can also act as liaison for the emergency services.

CRU supporting the Fire Service at an incident on Saddleworth Moor

East Coast Tidal Surge (January 2017)

In January 2017 the east coast of the UK was subject to gov agency warnings (Mat Office, SEPA, EA) of coastal and river flood risk.

Command Unit Setup for a Joint Service Exercise

December storms 2015

BT launched a pan-BT operation to help the community. 

Scottish storms January/February 2015

BT engineers praised for their work during the Scottish Storms 2015. 

Dalleagles villagers back online after BT exchange blaze

BT responded swiftly to restore service to the villagers of Dalleagles

Island communities cut off due to malicious damage

On Thursday 7 June, BT experienced loss of services to several remote off shore communities in the North West Highlands of Scotland. 

BT Teams brave Arctic conditions to restore 999 services after malicious cable attack

When Welwyn Garden City exchange experienced a partial community isolation back in early Feb 2012, BT mobilised resources from across the business to respond and restore services. 

More about Civil Resilience & Incident Management in BT