In the U.S., we depend on the medical expertise of first responders in a multitude of situations. An estimated 240 million calls made to 9-1-1 each year for a variety of reasons, including:
- Severe pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Confusion or unusual behavior
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Severe vomiting
- Thoughts of suicide or harm to others
- Head or spinal injury
- Incidents involving road collisions or house fires
- Sudden dizziness or weakness
- Ingesting a poisonous substance
- Violent injury
When we feel our lives — or the lives of others — are being threatened in some way, we rely on first responders to provide the help we need. But what you might not realize is that 80% or more of all of those millions of calls made each year are made from wireless devices. And while this type of technology is rather ubiquitous, it can cause a number of problems for first responder communications.
What’s the Problem With Wireless Devices?
Smartphones have certainly made it easier for the general public to communicate when they’re out and about. Rather than use a payphone or wait to use a landline at your home, you can place a call from your cell phone no matter where you are.
But cell phones do pose some challenges in the event of a medical emergency. In some cases, these devices have actually saved lives. But in others, they make it more difficult for medical personnel to do their jobs. Let’s take a closer look at some of these issues and how they can be solved by improved by first responder wireless services.
How Are First Responder Communications Interrupted?
Let’s zero in on the problem first. While many people believe that our existing technology only stands to help medical personnel do their jobs in health emergencies, the reality is that our nation’s existing infrastructure hasn’t necessarily caught up with evolving tech or the needs of first responders. Because the FCC continues to make adjustments to how the radio spectrum is allotted, this can pose problems for first responder communications. In other words, the amount of frequencies that can be used for the needs of first responders is restricted — and that can lead to poor cell service.
If you’re required to be in an area with bad reception on a call (whether it’s a rural location far from cell towers or an urban area with tall structures), you could jeopardize your ability to administer medical assistance — all because you can’t receive or send the information you need through existing first responder wireless services! That’s a huge problem when someone’s life is on the line. If you can’t hear the information you need to help a person in trouble, it’s much harder to do your job to the best of your ability.
What is ERRCS?
Now that you know the communication challenges first responders face, let’s talk about some of the solutions. An Emergency Responder Radio Communication System, or ERRCS, is an in-building requirement for many areas nationwide. It’s intended to improve vital communications that take place both within a building and from outside it specifically as they pertain to public safety. An ERRCS uses a Distributed Antenna System (or DAS) in order to send and receive radio signals from the network of first responders. An ERRCS also contains a Bi-Directional Amplifier (or BDA) system, which connects to the DAS through a cable or fiber in order to re-amplify signals throughout the building to offset areas of poor cell coverage.
You can think of an ERRCS like a megaphone. Without it, your own voice will be lost when talking to a crowd of people in a busy location. Even if you yell at the top of your lungs, the information might not be able to be heard. But if you use a megaphone to amplify your voice, others will be able to understand what’s being said and your message will be received loud and clear. An ERRCS can make sure nothing is lost in translation.
Your municipality may have different rules and regulations surrounding ERRCS requirements. But generally speaking, any building that has three or more stories, more than 50,000 square feet, or an underground parking facility will likely require an ERRCS to be installed. Keep in mind that buildings made of or containing materials like concrete, brick, wood, metal, and even low-e glass can make communications through traditional first responder wireless services more challenging because they’ll often block the signal. Even something as simple as a layout with multiple rooms or a space with thicker walls can make it harder for first responders to communicate clearly. That’s why it’s essential that builders and developers follow all relevant codes pertaining to ERRCS installation to ensure public safety and overall compliance.
How Can First Responder Cellular Boosters Eliminate Communication Barriers?
Now, it’s important to remember that the presence of an ERRCS isn’t everything. There are other first responder wireless solutions that can improve the ability of medical personnel to serve the community as intended.
It’s also necessary to install signal boosters to bolster first responder wireless services. Cell boosters can be placed in both emergency vehicles and in base stations to amplify signals sent and received by wireless devices. Police vehicles, fire engines, and EMS and ambulance vehicles can all benefit from the installation of cellular boosters. That way, first responders can easily communicate with hospitals, co-workers, and their base to ensure they have the right information and that people in trouble can receive the help they need as efficiently and safely as possible. With the addition of cellular boosters to first responder wireless services, the chances of a dropped call, spotty reception, or even missed text messages are reduced greatly.
How We Can Strengthen First Responder Communications
As a first responder, you already know the risks associated with your calling. While you may put helping others first, you can’t provide the assistance they need if you don’t have the right tools to access important information. Unfortunately, relying on an average cell phone isn’t an adequate plan. In order to ensure calls are clear and that nothing is missed, you need better first responder wireless services.
That’s where RFeCommunications comes in. Whether your EMS staff needs cell network boosters in all vehicles or your facility is in a notorious “dead zone,” it’s essential that you prepare for the worst case scenario. In a medical emergency, you can’t leave anything up to chance — and that includes your first responder wireless services. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that calls will come through clearly, you need the peace of mind and the equipment necessary to prevent disaster.
At RFeCommunications, we offer cellular network boosters, DAS, and other wireless coverage options to ensure first responders can improve efficiency and safety for themselves and others. We know how tough the job of a first responder is; it shouldn’t be made harder by subpar wireless communication. Fortunately, there are solutions readily available to ensure your team has the intel they need and that the public is protected. Rather than wait for the next call to drop, your first responders can do their job efficiently and without unnecessary frustration related to technical problems.
To learn more about how RFeCommunications can help your business, please contact us today.