It is the unfortunate reality that bad situations and disasters happen. Whether they are natural disasters or man-made problems, the result is the same: people’s lives are on the line and first responder communications are essential. When minutes matter, they can be on their way in seconds with the right tools and information. If the situation is reversed, the situation can be untimely and detrimental to all involved.
But how does one get in touch with first responders in the first place? Unless there is a dedicated alarm system set up to notify authorities immediately, usually someone must make a phone call. In some cases, this call is dropped or obstructed due to the hazardous situation occurring, meaning that critical information can be lost when it matters most. In places with a lack of cell service, a landline ceasing to function can mean imminent threats. In more remote areas with cell service and no commercial cell boosters utilized, spotty reception can mean the difference between receiving and translating a jumbled call.
First responders are vital to helping out with any disaster situation by being on the scene first, as well as communicating with those involved. From trying to locate where people are to providing medical services, first responders can have many jobs that are difficult and tiresome. Any disaster situation, even if localized and small, is incredibly tricky to deal with and fraught with complications. First responder wireless solutions enable these vital teams to help people safely and communicate effectively.
Getting the Message Out There: The Importance of First Responder Communications
First responder wireless services are something we might not think about until we need it. Most of us just assume that we call emergency services on the dedicated hotline or phone number (9-1-1) and we will get through without a hitch. It is simply a given that we will have no issues trying to reach first responders in an emergency.
Fortunately, there have been all sorts of technological breakthroughs and achievements when it comes to improving first responder technology in the modern day. From commercial wireless solutions to specialized first responder wireless solutions, there are many competing technologies vying for the top spot. Some of these solutions are patented and proprietary so that the general public does not have access to them (private channels) while others are improved solutions on existing public technology.
It is in the best interest of local city managers, planners, and politicians to know that they have a robust and working communications network for their first responders to use in case of emergency. To not have one is not only unwise but may become criminal if something could have prevented a disaster in the first place. Therefore, it is better to educate oneself on how to improve an existing system (or install a new one) for first responder wireless solutions before the need is there. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Wireless Communications for First Responders
It’s no secret that many people do not have landlines as communications portals these days, and that the phone market is dominated by wireless technology. In fact, approximately 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year. In many areas, 80% or more are from wireless devices. While you may think this is a large improvement, it depends on a variety of factors such as landscape/geography, cell tower/network, weather conditions, power outages, and more.
First responder wireless solutions need to go beyond the typical cell phone tower to make sure that critical errors are not made. In many areas of the USA, cell phone service is available, but may not be as robust as it needs to be in an emergency situation. Just because calls go through more often than not, or are dropped only some of the time, is not good enough for first responders. If a call is dropped while you’re chatting with a friend that’s fine, but it would be unacceptable in a true life or death scenario.
In this case, you should have the cell network of your local area evaluated and put through stress tests to make sure that it holds up in an emergency situation. This may mean hiring specialized contractors to put the network through “disaster tests” where they disable or power down some towers, try to jam the signal (to simulate many calls being made at once), or other common scenarios. Only once you have all this data available to you will you then be able to make a competent assessment on what you should do about first responder wireless solutions for your area.
It may be that your cell network is fine, but could benefit from cell boosters. In some cases, they may even be able to install a special emergency channel so that regular cell traffic doesn’t interfere with trying to get to the heart of the matter.
Radio Networks and First Responder Communications
If cell service is too expensive to improve or you already have a robust landline network for emergencies, then you may want to focus on a dedicated radio system for first responders. It is technically a part of first responder wireless solutions, but different than cell networks. It usually has a centralized radio post within a first responder unit or somewhere out in the field. This has the benefit of being able to be a private channel that civilians can’t access, and can sometimes work great within places that cell service doesn’t reach.
Depending on your local laws, you may have to apply for permits or other regulatory measures in order to establish a system such as this, especially if you want to make sure that it doesn’t impede on other radio systems that are already in place, such as a police communications channel. The radio network is usually referred to as an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System and is available from a wide variety of private providers, all promising a unique and flawless system. One must do their research intimately to find out which will work best for your local area.
Nothing To Skimp On: Getting Communications Right
It’s unfortunate that there is not a catch-all solution for first responder wireless solutions, and that a “one size fits all” approach can’t simply be handed down verbatim to every municipality or jurisdiction looking to provide robust public safety. In essence, providing great first responder communications is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle mixed with high-level questioning. You may have thought that you found an amazing solution, only to figure out that because of the geography, it won’t work as well. Sometimes, it will be a bit of trial and error before the correct solution is found.
The reason why it is so important to consider these issues delicately and carefully is because people’s lives are at risk if problems are made. First responders need to be able to communicate with other helpers on the scene. This is not something to play around with, and should be treated as the serious matter that it is. When you’re looking for the best in first responder wireless solutions, rely on RFeCommunications today.