The Blanchard Springs Caverns are located in the Ozark National Forest and are one of the most spectacular and carefully developed caves found anywhere in the world. They are believed to have been formed, and continually changed, by an ongoing mountain spring that pours into a glassy-surfaced trout pond below the cave, called Mirror Lake. A variety of tours provide visitors with different views of the cavern, as well as varying difficulty levels.
The active cave, with its glistening formations, stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones is constantly changing and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Visitors can choose from tour paths equipped with handrails and paved trails for comfortable walking or explore an undeveloped section of the cavern to climb over rocks and crawl through tight spaces.
Park Rangers at the Blanchard Springs Caverns had insufficient communications underground while conducting tours of this popular tourist destination. This lack of communications created several issues and safety concerns:
- If an emergency occurred inside the caverns, an employee would have to serve as a “runner” to travel outside the cavern to call for emergency personnel.
- Due to the use of “runners” there was a lengthy delay in emergency service response times.
- The need for “runners” to be available required increased staff levels at the location driving up operating expenses and overhead costs.
- Park Rangers above ground were unaware of the location of tour groups inside the cavern. Group location information was needed to manage the pace of each tour to ensure they would meet in a location that would allow one group the ability to pass another while remaining on schedule.
PBE Axell visited the Blanchard Springs caverns with key members from the PBE sales and engineering teams to meet with Park Rangers to understand the complexities of the location and design a custom system solution that would provide clear communications and enhanced safety at the park. PBE designed and installed a communications system that provides seamless radio coverage throughout the harsh environment of the underground caverns without disturbing the natural beauty. This system also provides Park Rangers with check point tracking that reveals the tour progress, last known location of Park Rangers and allows visitors to upload pictures and videos from underground via their personal Wi-Fi capable devices. The results are reduced operating expenses, enhanced safety and an improved visitor experience.
- No emergency communications
- Delayed emergency response time
- Unknown location of guides and tour groups
- Seamless radio coverage
- Checkpoint safety tracking locations
- Live video
- Wi-Fi connectivity locations
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