Ten critical steps to prepare your communications for a disaster

Managing your p25 Radio Network - Article on Major events

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Your level of investment for major events depends upon your location and risk assessment. You need to invest enough to stay on air through critical events, ensuring power to your sites throughout.

The greatest barrier to effective emergency response is low levels of preparedness – lack of training, and being unfamiliar with emergency operating procedures.

Technical issues come second. This section outlines measures to prepare for major events, whether they are planned exercises, natural or man-made disasters.

Planning and preparation

Planning for critical events on a daily basis is much better than figuring it out when you are under duress! To predict emergency coverage and performance requirements you can look to local event history – is your jurisdiction at risk from floods, hurricanes, forest fires, blizzards, or earthquakes? Of course you will also need to plan for risks such as terrorist attack, multiple motor vehicle accidents, plane crashes and civil unrest.

1) Identify, protect and prioritize your critical user groups in advance, and build them into your talkgroup structure.

2) You will not have enough channels for all your users in extreme situations so your disaster planning must limit network access to critical users only.

3) Define the complexity of your interoperability needs with a matrix – who needs to talk to whom?

4) Plan how you will use encryption. Can you communicate effectively with all the necessary agencies and groups?

5) Estimate how long different disaster scenarios might leave you without power, fuel or support. You may have to be independent for 72 hours or more.

6) Invest in transportable networks that can be rapidly deployed.

7) Maintain a cache of radios that all your mutual aid partners can use. A strike team needs to know where the caches are.

8) Keep cached radios programmed, maintained and updated with the rest of your fleet – don’t discover this has not happened when you are under pressure.

9) Schedule and practice simulated emergencies with your interoperability partners annually. Take a lead from fire departments, who do this well.

10) Ensure your procedures are thoroughly documented, easy to follow and easy to find. Ideally, they will be in both electronic and hard copy.

Resiliency, performance, site equipment, coverage and capacity are all important areas to consider in your planning. Click here to continue reading this article:
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This article is taken from Managing your P25 system guide which is a part of P25 Best Practice. P25 Best Practice is a comprehensive and authoritative set of guides to P25 radio which distills P25 radio knowledge and wisdom of 30 experts with over 450 combined years of experience.

You can download the guides, absolutely free, from the P25 Best Practice website.

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