communication during an emergency


he most important requirements for responding to an emergency, such as the evacuation of a building caused by a fire alarm or a lock-down invacuation caused by an external attack on a building or campus, are effective communication and control using accurate situation awareness.

Many operational security teams use two- way radios to communicate with each other day to day and during such emergency incidents. They can instantly initiate an individual call to a colleague or a group call to a team of people – and instantly communicate a message, ask a question or give an instruction. This is simply done by pressing the push-to-talk (PTT) button on the side of the radio and speaking through the microphone or through a remote speaker microphone worn on the shoulder. But there is a key element of this operational team that

doesn’t use a radio to communicate – who uses a computer-based radio dispatcher – the control room operator.

One way of enabling the control room operator to easily communicate with the security team via their two-way radio devices is to use a computer-based radio dispatcher, sometimes known as an integrated command and control system. This software application is installed on a stand-alone computer, and by using its speakers and a microphone or an audio headset, enables the operator to speak directly to individuals or groups on their two-way radios, without the need for the operator having a two-way radio device.

These radio dispatcher software applications have been developed for use with professional two-way radio communications systems with features that enable efficient communications between control room operators and their teams on the ground. They typically have the highest priority on the two-way radio network, enabling the control room operator to manage communications between teams in everyday operations but particularly in emergency situations

and times of intense pressure.

Many such systems have an inbuilt mapping application and can display GPS locations of radio users so that during an emergency incident the operator can see the location of each member of the security team carrying a radio and immediately take control.

These radio dispatching software packages can be entry level voice only or support text messaging, record voice calls and messages, coordinate response teams from a central point, and can link different radio networks across wide areas to create dynamic groups in times of emergencies.

Using a radio dispatcher software application, a control room operator has all the information to ensure a smooth operation is achieved. And in the post- event scenario, management teams can review all communications and instructions in order to develop processes for the future.


Roadphone NRB

Taking emergency measures The Emergency

Response Officer T

here are a very wide variety of major incidents that are faced by our emergency services within our cities and towns.

These incidents can range from natural disasters such as fire or flood to manmade disasters such as Hazmat spills, vehicle or aircraft crashes or, at worst, a terror related attack such as an active shooter or bombings, as seen in some of Europe’s cities in recent times.

The actions that are taken by emergency services are of paramount importance, determining the safety of the innocent civilians involved and the successful outcome of the incident. From the onset, there is usually minimal information about what has happened or what is going on; most of the information that is received is usually fragmented and sometimes conflicting.

The initial information will come from distressed and confused members of the

public communicating their own version of events. The emergency services will be directly involved in segments of response until an authority of command is established; this can be many minutes from happening, dependent on the type and severity of the incident. Every business has a legal requirement covered by The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These stipulate that every business and employer in control of premises must establish “appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger”. Then there is the commercial and reputational risk if the controlling organisation is exposed for having inadequate planning and procedures.

Most businesses will have emergency response and business continuity plans in place, developed in conjunction with the emergency services, police, fire and hospital accident and emergency, and in liaison with surrounding businesses and other organisations.

These plans are only effective if they are regularly reviewed, updated and rehearsed to check they work and to implement improvements where

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necessary. Designated security staff should be effectively trained so they can effectively perform their role. Vital skills, such as first aid and trauma response, must be regularly updated and refreshed.

Following any emergency, the first few minutes are absolutely critical. Personnel who are trained, willing and able to support a response, without putting themselves or others at risk, are a vital asset to the emergency services upon their arrival.

Some organisations identify an Emergency Response Officer who is trained to identify, report and assess the situation, to communicate essential factual information, together with assisting victims. They will be competent in ensuring equipment, such as first aid kits and fire and communications equipment, are checked and maintained as necessary.

Risk can never be eliminated, but we can take steps to reduce the negative impact of a major incident and help keep employees, visitors and public safe.

Robert Clark Director, Templewood Training Services

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