Municipality Emergency Communication Preparedness

This brief guide shows exactly how you can save victims in emergency situations as well as keeping personnel safe in the process.

Your personal team can effectively save lives by having a plan of communication.
Preparation for an emergency is essential and a strong communication-plan is the backbone.
Please read and implement this guide, make adjustments for your situation, then feel free to share it with your appropriate staff.

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Southeast corner of the United States. Hurricane Katrina is a category five major hurricane and is the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Communication issues ravaged the municipalities of the area leaving emergency response teams in a state of disorder. The terrible events of Hurricane Katrina is just one example of communication breakdown during an emergency and the aftermath.

Communication is a major part of your government's role in an emergency. Their job is to receive and/or relay information about emergency situations and respond accordingly. There should be a chain of backup plans to prepare for communication loss that are regularly reviewed and practiced. In the event that certain forms of communication fail, there needs to be a system in place for government entities to be able to communicate in other ways in order to give relief to those in need.

Internal Communication

For internal communication within government agencies, timing is key. When communication is delayed the repercussions can be catastrophic and the lives of citizens and personnel can be lost. First responders rely on dispatchers for internal communication within their agency to relay information on location, safety hazards, medical status, and other life saving information.

External Communication

Communication starts externally in the case of local government emergency preparedness. In an emergency situation many times authorities are alerted via outside sources. Keeping an open flow of communication to and from external sources is vital for response teams to remedy an emergency situation. There are many external forms of communication in order to get safety information to civilians that can be a matter of life or death for many.

Governmental Resources


Police

Fire Department

Animal Control

EMS

Methods of Communication


Telephone

For incoming communication from external sources the telephone is the number one form of communication. Calling 911 is the easiest way for the community to get in contact with Emergency Services. There are also non-emergency lines for poisoning, arranging appointments, and information about the hospital.

Bullhorns/Megaphones

When Emergency Services arrive on the scene on major disasters, such as a building collapse, to find patients who are alive and getting them out of the hazard zone can determine that patient's future. Utilizing a bull-horn to both get attention, and to communicate to a larger crowd over a larger space is an effective way to start triaging patients.

Two-Way Radios

Even though the first real two-way radio didn't break into the scene until 1923, in Australia, and took up the whole back seat, it is responsible for the way public officers on the streets are able to so effectively communicate back to headquarters. They are good for businesses who need effective, reliable internal communication constantly available. Two way radios are utilized by construction worker, subcontractors, military personnel, ems services, police officers, and hospitality workers. The live up-to-date contact is one of the best ways to maintain contact.

Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL)/Ham Radio

Ham radio, or amateur radio-ist are often enjoyed by local listeners who are excited to hear a local perspective on a larger scale medium. Practiced by large crowds, from fictional Lee Jordan's Potterwatch in Harry Potter, to Walter Cronkite, it is a fun way to get on the air. Ham radio is subject to laws by the FCC, so there are laws to conduct on the air. If you are looking to get on it for more than emergency broadcasts, you do need a license, and a call sign, which you must use every time you transmit.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

Required across all broadcasts, including radio, there is an emergency alert system, which is broadcast as a warning to people, wherever they might be.

News Media

The news media, which is also required to inform people of emergencies when the EAS system requests it, has a responsibility to inform the public of any catastrophes or evacuations occurring in the area.

Community Involvement

In your own community, you can actively listen to the radio, and in some cases tune into police channels. It is useful if you and your family prepared for disasters by keeping two way radios on hand with flashlights, stores of water, and food. Emergency preparedness involves keeping in touch with your family.

CONCLUSION

It is vital that radio communications be utilized with emergency services because of it has heavy utility, and saves lives. In our community, we should be prepared to use that communication in the same way in case of emergencies.