Here’s What You Should Know
1. Being able to call for backup quickly and clearly is essential for first responders to help ensure the safety of everyone involved, improve efficiency, facilitate clear communication, and allocate resources appropriately.
2. First responder radios are critical tools for emergency situations, but they frequently fail due to range limitations, poor in-building coverage, and radio frequency differences.
3. Agencies need to invest in equipment designed to keep first responders connected in situations where their radios might fail.
First responders, including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, are often thrust into dangerous or unexpected situations where a quick response can mean the difference between life and death. In order to keep themselves and their communities safe from harm, it is crucial for first responders to have the ability to call for backup quickly and to be able to provide critical information about the emergency situation clearly – especially in situations where every second matters.
While first responders are equipped to communicate over two-way radios, there are situations where these radios don’t work as intended, putting the lives of both responders and victims at risk.
“Sometimes a situation presents itself where one of our officers is in a foot pursuit after someone. In the past, because of our rural community, our radios would lose signal and we wouldn’t know exactly where the officer was or the status of the pursuit. Now, with Tango Tango, we can pinpoint exactly where our officers are through the app, which gives us peace of mind because we know we can find them quickly.”
Chief | Leighton Police Department, AL
One of the most common reasons for radio failure is range limitations. Radio signals can only travel so far before they weaken or disappear altogether. In rural areas, where there are fewer cell towers and radio repeaters, radio coverage can be spotty or non-existent. During the 2018 Camp Fire in California, firefighters were unable to communicate with each other due to poor radio coverage, which contributed to the loss of their communication vehicle. 85 lives and 18,000 buildings were lost in the fire.
Poor in-building coverage is another problem that first responders encounter. Radio waves have a hard time penetrating concrete, steel, and other building materials, making it difficult for responders to communicate with each other or dispatchers. This situation can occur in densely populated cities or high-rise buildings, where radio signals bounce off buildings, causing interference and reducing radio coverage. The 9/11 terrorist attacks famously exposed this issue, as rescuers struggled to communicate with each other inside the World Trade Center. According to the Associated Press, “Sept. 11 was a convergence of the worst possible problems in communication technology…the main problem, the FDNY says, was the damage done to infrastructure called repeaters, which made radio signals work at the Twin Towers. That left many commanders and firefighters unable to talk to each other. Firefighters in the stairwells couldn’t hear the evacuation order, and as a result, 343 died.”
In addition to radio failures resulting from geographic-related limitations, radio frequency differences can cause communication problems. Different agencies and departments use different radio frequencies, which can create confusion and miscommunication. During the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, several law enforcement agencies struggled to communicate with each other due to incompatible radio systems, which slowed down the response time.
“Before using Tango Tango, we often had the inability to communicate from dispatch to the field. Often our radios could not pick up a signal if we were inside a building; they were unable to penetrate the walls. We now have full coverage with Tango Tango. It’s a great tool to have.”
Director of Fleet Operations | Cataldo Ambulance, MD
The situations faced by first responders that necessitate reliable and easy access to a communications solution that keeps them connected to their team are varied and numerous.
1. Active shooter incidents: In these scenarios, the shooter is typically armed and dangerous. Backup is necessary to secure the area and neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.
2. Fire outbreaks: A small fire can quickly turn into a raging inferno, and firefighters need backup to contain the flames and prevent the spread of the fire.
3. Car accidents: First responders must be prepared for anything, including collisions that result in multiple injuries or fatalities. Backup is required to handle the situation and attend to those in need.
4. Medical emergencies: Ambulance personnel may need assistance from other first responders, such as police officers or firefighters, to stabilize a patient or transport them to the hospital.
5. Natural disasters: Hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can lead to widespread destruction and chaos. First responders may need to call for backup to help contain the situation and ensure the safety of residents.
6. Hostage situations: When someone is taken hostage, first responders must act quickly to contain the situation and negotiate a safe resolution. Backup can help manage the situation and keep everyone safe.
7. Bomb threats: Bomb threats can be incredibly dangerous, and first responders must be prepared to handle these situations with caution. Backup is essential for searching the area and ensuring everyone’s safety.
8. Chemical spills: Hazardous materials spills require special training and equipment. Backup is necessary to ensure the spill is contained and the area is safe for first responders and civilians.
9. Search and rescue missions: When someone goes missing in a remote area, first responders must conduct search and rescue missions. Backup is critical to cover more ground and increase the chances of finding the missing person.
10. Large-scale events: Sporting events, concerts, and festivals attract large crowds, and first responders must be ready to handle emergencies. Backup is necessary to manage the crowds and ensure everyone’s safety.
Being able to call for backup is essential for first responders in a wide variety of situations. It can help ensure the safety of everyone involved, improve efficiency, facilitate clear communication, and allocate resources appropriately. While first responder radios are critical tools for emergency situations, they are not foolproof. Range limitations, poor in-building coverage, and radio frequency differences can all hinder radio communication, making it challenging for first responders to do their jobs effectively. To overcome these issues, agencies need to invest in equipment designed to keep first responders connected in situations where their radios might fail. Ultimately, preparedness is the key to ensure that first responders can communicate when it matters most.
Do you think Tango Tango could help solve communication challenges for your team too? Provide us with a few details about you and your team, and we’ll be in touch to get you talking in no time with a 30-day free trial.