The demand for Radio communication
The history shows that the increasing number of mountain rescues soon necessitated a specific communication device in order for rescuers to exchange information and coordinate their actions on terrain. The first communication device used an 80 MHz frequency, and was assigned by the French Ministry of Internal Affairs. The 400 MHz remote control station was installed at the top of Aiguille du Midi. Then, a voice dispensing station was transferring alerts through specialized frequencies to the various administration offices (District administration, hospital, fire department). In 1985, the radio installations were destroyed by a fire that occurred in the infrastructures at the top of Aiguille du Midi.
Established in 1987, the Mont Blanc Safety Alert Network (SAMB) started a collaboration with the local company Savoie Electronique . Signal towers were installed at the top of Aiguille du Midi and Grand Montets, along with 9 emergency beacons in the nearby mountain huts. Equipment and operations were financed by the General Board , The local mountain rescue society “Société Chamoniarde de Secours”( S.C.S.M). The district administration of Haute Savoie provided the S.C.S.M with a 150 MHz frequency. Chamonix PGHM , St Gervais, the Drop Zone heli base in Les Bois, the Chamonix and Sallanches hospitals were equipped with radio base stations. A few years later and in order to improve the radio network in the upper area of the Chamonix valley, the Grands Montets signal tower was removed in 1992 and relocated on Mount Buet, just below the peak ( attached to the district of Vallorcine).
In 1989 the nearby town administration of Val Montjoie financed the radio network broadening, and a signal tower was installed at the top of Mont Joly, complementing the 13 emergency beacons in mountain huts attached to the administration of St Gervais, Les Contamines, Passy and Sallanches. In 1991, the SDIS 74 transmission department took over the network maintenance, in exchange of the equipment ownership, whereas the Société Chamoniarde kept ownership and remained in charge of maintenance operations for the Chamonix valley network.
SAMB – Emergency
At the end of year 2000, the Emergency radio network became fully operational In the Aosta Valley, the Swiss Wallis county and Haute Savoie, thus completing the needs for radio network around the Mont Blanc region. Modifications were made on emergency beacons in mountain huts to allow a dual-frequency transmission, and alert the SAMB- Emergency network. A constructive decision from SDIS 74 handed over the equipment and maintenance assignments of its signal towers and emergency beacons to La Chamoniarde, and granted a 10-year period subsidies to finance the modernize the SAMB radio network. The Emergency alert network aims at covering rescue on the large Haute Savoie district scale, whereas alerts received by the SAMB have dealt with mountain rescue operations in the Mont Blanc range.