accessibility & help

BT equipment vital to British Red Cross Indonesian earthquake response

28 October 2009
For further information please contact
Mark South
Telephone +44(0)207 877 7042, email:, or out of hours 07659 145 095

Communications equipment supplied by BT Group is playing a lifesaving role helping get aid to people cut off by the recent earthquake in Indonesia.

When the earthquake struck on Sep 30th, killing over 1,000 people and making thousands more homeless, agencies from around the world scrambled to respond.

Among those arriving in the immediate aftermath of the quake was a British Red Cross emergency response team of logistics experts, charged with coordinating the arrival, storage and distribution of relief. The team carried with them laptops, satellite phones and BGANs funded by BT Group.

“Our role here in Indonesia is to receive and process relief items that are being flown in, and get them to warehouses and then onto trucks and to areas where people are in need as quickly as possible,” explained team leader Jamie Richardson speaking via satellite phone from Padang.

With telephone and power lines down, and thousands of people in urgent need physically cut off by landslides, the team faced a daunting challenge.

 “We constantly need to share detailed information, so computers and the internet are essential for communicating between the team; when we’re out in the field, we can’t rely on landlines or the mobile network so we have to use satellite phones and BGAN units,” said Richardson.

“Before we can do anything we need to have the tools to do the job and Information Technology is absolutely vital to what we do.”

To ensure the team has the equipment they need and is able to respond effectively in times of emergency, BT Group has pledged to provide £300,000 to the British Red Cross for critical IT and satellite telephony gear.

The hi-tech kit again proved its worth when Richardson’s team secured the use of helicopters to deliver aid to remote villages which could only be reached by air.

For the flights to happen, precise coordination between those in the villages, the pilots, and the Red Cross base in Padang, was essential.

“We had several people with BT funded satellite phones in the villages where helicopters were landing, and we had the BGAN relaying messages backwards-and-forwards to myself in Padang and also to the base station where the helicopters were taking off from,” said Richardson.

“If we didn’t have this equipment we would not have been able to use the helicopters - it would have been too dangerous.

“Without the helicopters we wouldn’t have been able to reach the villages with aid and medical teams and they would have been cut off for months. Having that communication was vital”

Richardson’s team has been in Indonesia for three weeks and will be heading home in early November to be replaced by another British Red Cross team, who will be co-ordinating relief for earthquake victims for a further month.

To donate to the British Red Cross Asia Pacific appeal, supporting the response in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Samoa, visit or call 0845 054 7201


Note to editors:
For more info contact Mark south 0207 877 7042

BT has a three year partnership with the British Red Cross in support of disaster relief worldwide (2007 - 2010)

The partnership demonstrates a strategic progression of BT’s existing Corporate Social Responsibility activities and is a natural extension of its disaster relief support through the DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee)

The British Red Cross is a leading member of the largest independent humanitarian network in the world – the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement - and specialises in the Logistics Emergency Response Unit (ERU) which is run from its headquarters in London

BT have provided a total of £300,000 in funding to the British Red Cross which will enable them to purchase critical IT and satellite telephony equipment that is needed to deliver proactive disaster relief worldwide

BT is the first global communications company to partner with the British Red Cross in this capacity and will be providing specific tactical support through multi-year funding (£100k per year over the next three years) as well as the skills and expertise of its employees through specific volunteering activities with the Red Cross IT / Telecommunications Emergency Roster

Asia Pacific Emergencies Information

More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands more made homeless when two earthquakes struck Indonesia on the 30th Sep and 1st of October.
As well as providing a four-person logistics team, the British Red Cross is delivering stock worth £378,950 from its warehouse in Kuala Lumpur  including 1,500 Jerry Cans, 1,500 Mosquito nets, 3,000 tarpaulins, 4,500 shelter kits including a further 9,000 tarpaulins, and 10,00 thermal blankets.


Typhoons Ketsana (September 29th) and Parma (October 30th) forced hundreds-of-thousands of people from their homes, and resulted in around 600 deaths
The British Red Cross has allocated £100,000 from its appeal funds to provide emergency shelter for those who have lost their homes and is also delivering 1,500 hygiene kits and over 1,100 kitchen sets to those in need.

After hitting the Philippines, Typhoon Ketsana barrelled into Vietnam resulting in up to 200 deaths and affecting around 3m people.
The British Red Cross has given £75,000 to help support the relief effort.

On Tuesday September 29th a 5m high tsunami swept across the islands of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, destroying homes, property and livelihoods and claiming around 190 lives.
British Red Cross has raised over £100,000 towards supporting people by the tsunami, with funds being used for shelter, water, sanitation, livelihoods programmes and other recovery activities.

British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.