Going to an emergency call can be intimidating, yet first responders do it every day. Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians routinely head into unknown buildings with unknown people involved in an unknown situation. This places them at great risk, but they do so knowing that their involvement can save lives.
One of the greatest risks in entering an unknown building is the loss of communications. This can happen for a few reasons:
- Out of range: Radios have a fixed range. Cell phones must be within the range of at least one cell tower to receive voice and data signals. To receive a strong cell signal, a cell phone must be within the range of multiple overlapping cell towers so that another cell tower can take over the call as the cell caller moves.
- Shielding: Physical obstacles, such as walls, ceilings, and floors can block radio and cell signals. In large buildings, so the physical barriers around stairwells or offices in the center of the building may limit or prevent cell signals from reaching a cell tower.
- Interference: Machinery and electronic equipment can create interfering signals that disrupt communications. Cell users even report that clothes dryers and electrical generators creating enough interference to disrupt cell calls.
- Damaged equipment: Cell towers and switching centers can be damaged or lose power in natural or manmade disasters. This will reduce cell coverage.
During an emergency response, first responder communications are essential. Whether you use cell phones as a primary option for communications or you merely use it for backup communications, maintaining your cell signal is essential on an emergency call.
Here are five applications for first responder cellular boosters:
Dispatcher First Responder Cellular Booster
A dispatch center might use cellular telephones as a backup to the radio system. Installing a first responder cellular booster at the dispatch center will ensure that dispatchers always have a strong signal that can reach first responders if they cannot be reached by radio.
This might be particularly useful in a city where cell coverage is normally good, but might be compromised due to bad weather, power outages, or natural disasters. In this situation, people who need assistance would use the normal 911 emergency number to reach the dispatch center.
The dispatcher can then use the radio system, as normal, to reach first responders. However, if the radio system is not working, the dispatcher can use the cellular system. Aided by a cellular booster, the dispatcher should be able to reach the assigned cell phones of first responders.
By using cellular service as a backup system, a municipality can maintain contact with first responders even when their radio system goes down. This ensures that first responders are always in communication with dispatchers.
Portable First Responder Cellular Booster
Although additional cell towers have improved coverage, nearly 75% of cellular users who make phone calls indoors experience dropped calls and slow download speeds. Depending on the location of the building, size of the building, and position within the building, emergency responders might have no signal or a weak signal.
Selecting the right first responder wireless services might improve coverage. However, one way to reduce the chances of losing cell signal is to provide portable first responder cellular boosters. These can overcome shielding and interference inside buildings. Moreover, if towers have been damaged or are out of range, a first responder cellular booster might strengthen the signal so it can reach a live tower.
Another use of portable first responder cellular boosters is for search and rescue operations in undeveloped areas. In these areas, cell coverage might be weak. Providing first responder cellular boosters to searchers can help coordinate a search and rescue operation. It can also ensure that searchers do not also become victims that need rescuing.
For example, each search team could be outfitted with first responder wireless solutions that include cell phones and a cellular booster. This will enable the team to remain in communication with the search coordinator and other search and rescue assets such as helicopters and vehicle teams.
Mobile Command Center First Responder Cellular Booster
During an operation, a mobile command center can be critically important for both commanding and coordinating an emergency response. Whether the emergency is a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or search and rescue, keeping commanders and intelligence in communication can make a response successful.
Operating inside cities can pose particular difficulties because buildings can block cell signals and the flood of radio signals can create interference. In urban operations, a cell booster can ensure that voice and data signals used for command and coordination can cut through the cacophony and reach a cell tower clearly.
For example, during a large urban operation, such as a collapsed building, a mobile command center might be essential to coordinate all the first responders. Without a mobile command center, clearing the building might take much longer than necessary and risk the lives of both victims and responders.
Operations in a rural environment can provide different challenges. Cell coverage might be spotty and a cell booster might give commanders more options for locating a mobile command center while remaining in contact with first responders.
Similarly, during a natural disaster, cell towers might be lost. For example, during a hurricane or earthquake, cell towers might be damaged or lose electricity. Being able to boost commanders’ cell signals with a first responder cell booster can put commanders in the middle of the action both physically and electronically.
Vehicle-Mounted First Responder Cellular Booster
A vehicle-mounted cellular booster can boost cell signals for first responders when they are in or near the vehicle. This provides a distinct advantage for first responders while they are traveling to or from an emergency or when they are near their vehicles at an emergency.
For example, if first responders use cell communications as a backup for radio communications, a cell booster in the vehicle might be necessary to reach them when the radio system goes down. In other words, a cell booster at the dispatch center is useless if the first responders cannot receive the call. Thus, first responder cell boosters in the vehicles might be necessary to reach the police, EMTs, or firefighters needed for an emergency call.
Similarly, during a search and rescue operation, cell boosters mounted on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, or snowmobiles can be essential to keeping searchers in contact with command and control. The benefit of vehicle-mounted cell boosters is that they can be heavier and can be connected to larger batteries than portable cell boosters. This allows them to operate longer without charging or even allows them to be charged from the vehicle’s electrical system.
Vehicle-mounted cell boosters can also help keep first responders in contact in conditions where cell phones often fail to work. For example, tunnels, underground parking garages, and waterways often have weak cell signals. Mounting cell boosters on vehicles, like cars, trucks, ambulances, boats, motorcycles, fire trucks, or other first responder vehicles can ensure they have cell communication wherever they go.
Government Headquarters Cellular Booster
The seat of government is essential during an emergency. If the mayor, city council, county commissioner, or governor cannot reach command and control, the response could be ineffective. Providing a cellular booster at the emergency response center for the local government can help keep the government in communication with first responders.
Equally importantly, the government will be able to communicate with residents. This will assist with alerts, evacuations, or other instructions that the government needs to send to locals. Alerts can be sent directly to residents or posted on social media. These alerts can help keep residents out of harm’s way and reduce the risk to first responders by containing the emergency.
For example, during a wildfire, the government can alert residents to the location and direction of the fire, order residents to evacuate, and direct them to safety, all using cellular communications. A cellular booster at city hall, the county offices, or the state capitol, the government can reach residents, social media, and other communication outlets to keep residents informed and safe.
Cellular communications can be critically important during an emergency for first responders, command and control, and government officials. By providing first responder cellular boosters at the locations where they will be needed, a government can reduce the risk that the first responders will be out of communication. This will improve the response to the emergency situation and enable the first responders to save lives and property.