Grimstad, Norway, August 8, 2023 – Axnes AS, a leading global provider of wireless communication solutions, received direct feedback from the Italian Air Force about the vital role the PNG Wireless Intercom System played in their helicopter Search & Rescue operations during the recent flooding of northeast Italy. After rescue operations ended, the Italian Air Force contacted Axnes to praise the effectiveness and emphasis the necessity of wireless communications during hoisting operations on their AW139 helicopters. A series of floods happened in and around the cities of Bologna, Cesena, Forlì, Faenza, Ravenna, and Rimini, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The first floods occurred between 2 and 3 May 2023, killing two people. More severe floods took place on 16–17 May 2023, killing at least 15 people and displacing 50,000 others.
The Italian Air Force, along with many other first responders, were called out to rescue people trapped by the by the flood waters. Sorties were being flown day & night in an attempt to rescue as many people as possible. The Italian Air Force discovered many people stuck in higher floors of buildings after arriving in the afflicted areas.
A crewmember from the Italian Air Force shared the following:
“Many people were stuck in their houses, which means that we have to hoist our rescue swimmers in through the window, where they can assess the situation. Because of the power outages that followed after the flooding, it was pitch dark inside the houses, the helicopters’ search light could only help us so much. This is where our Wireless Intercommunication System started playing a pivotal role in the operation. The rescue swimmer could immediately inform the rest of the crew on board of the helicopter about the situation inside the house.
Our AW139s have the BST50 Base Station and CP50 Control Panel installed, and our rescue swimmers are using fully waterproof MP50 handheld Transceivers from Axnes, which is important in this particular situation, as most of the houses were flooded. We had to hoist in and out through the windows of the flooded buildings. By having the possibility to talk directly on the aircraft intercom, but wirelessly, we could coordinate our hoisting operations much more safely and effective. In fact, we could not have carried out this type of hoisting if we didn’t have wireless communication in place, especially not in the dark. The PNG system is also connected to our moving map system, making it very easy to see in the dark where our rescue swimmer was at. The Axnes PNG really gave us the means to safely carry out our hoisting operations in the heavily damaged area by the flooding.”
Klaus Frühwirth, CMO at Axnes replied:
“We often hear that the PNG Wireless Intercom is a game changer for Search & Rescue crews but receiving some of the actual footage of the operation really is impressive to receive. We at Axnes prioritize on making crew operations safe to carry out, by providing clear, robust communication available through our PNG Wireless Intercom System. To get feedback in the way we do now, from the Italian Air Force, really is a strong motivator for us to keep improving our product to make the industry safer. We are humbled by the stories told by the Italian Air Force and we are honored that we can contribute to Search & Rescue operations like the one in North East Italy.