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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Disaster Preparedness Month Highlights Need for Innovative MNEC Systems

Since 2003, the US government has designated September as National Preparedness Month, with the goal of encouraging individuals, businesses, and communities to be proactive in preparing for possible disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a wealth of useful planning information through the website www.ready.gov, and organizations like the Red Cross sponsor training sessions to prepare citizens for a wide range of natural and manmade disaster scenarios. This national spotlight raises the question what types of equipment are needed by businesses, schools, and communities to cope with emergencies, including Mass Notification and Emergency Communication systems (“MNEC”). AmpliVox Sound Systems commends these initiatives, and offers a variety of sound system products to meet the demands of emergency situations.

Whenever a crisis requires a large evacuation, effective communication is vital to the success of any response operation. All too often, emergency situations create obstacles to communication – power may be cut off, access routes may be blocked, isolated response teams may be operating with inaccurate information, or teams may have difficulty getting instructions to large groups of frightened civilians. The potential negative consequences for local governments, schools, businesses, sports arenas, and other public areas are obvious and overwhelming. Government agencies charged with public safety at every level must consider MNEC guidelines as a top priority if they hope to respond to disasters successfully.

In establishing disaster preparedness plans, emergency personnel in all settings should have equipment on hand to guarantee that, whatever obstacles arise, communication lines will remain available. Such equipment needs to meet a number of criteria, including:
  • Portability — the communication unit must go wherever the response teams go, with a minimum of weight and space.
  • Power – the unit must operate with battery back-up for long time periods without the need for outside power.
  • Versatility — one-to-one communication between team leaders must be available, as well as the capacity to address larger groups of responders and civilians.
  • Cost Effectiveness — the unit must be affordable enough to be available to all sizes and types of response organizations, including in-house safety teams and local public safety officials.
One innovative approach combines handheld radio networking with powerful long-range hailer sound amplification. AmpliVox Sound Systems has developed a portable system that links response leadership through MURS wireless, secure radios. During an emergency, the AmpliVox Radio Hailer provides a grab-and-go, battery operated system that brings voice coverage to an area where disaster has knocked out communication channels, and allows organizations to establish their own zone sites during a disaster scenario.

These zone sites enable Public Sector First Responders, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), or Corporate Preparedness Teams to broadcast messages to the Radio Hailer from up to one mile away, literally expanding crowd control coverage.

In recent drills, the Radio Hailer system enabled a corporate emergency response team to effectively communicate with each other and with employee groups in large, noisy areas, including street level meet-up spots and building atriums. The clients chose to use their own two-way radios, set to a restricted digital talk group that only specified radio holders (management, fire/life safety, and others) could access. Set-up included one master two-way radio used as the transmitter, and additional two-way radios as receivers at each position. The master radio was connected via the headphone jack to the auxiliary input of the Radio Hailer amp, which received the signal and then broadcast the information from the speaker. The customer established separate talk groups at two sites: New York City and Jersey City. The Radio Hailer with attached radios was configured for both sites. In an extreme emergency, this would allow the company to link all the Radio Hailers together at both locations for an all-hands announcement.

The success of the Radio Hailer model in this corporate setting suggests a wide range of other possible applications for this important new communication tool. In addition to private customers, it is currently in use at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and the 21st Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood. The straightforward design could easily be used by local law enforcement and public safety officials at all levels.

AmpliVox also offers a variety of other portable, battery powered products that aid in crowd management, team communication, and coordination, including:

SW300 Mity-Lite Portable PA

A lightweight PA with carrying strap and wireless mic, with a 35-watt amp covering spaces up to 1500 square feet

SW720 iPod/iPhone/iPad Wireless PA

A powerful PA system for spaces up to 2500 square feet, with full connectivity for most Apple devices

Half-Mile Hailer

A portable outdoor loudspeaker designed for the greatest range and durability under extreme conditions

Mini-Meg and Mity-Meg

A line of portable megaphone systems that deliver power, multiple functions, and long-lasting battery life in a compact and simple package.
The bottom line: when disaster strikes, effective communication can make all the difference. Any organization charged with emergency response duties must review its disaster plans with a focus on communication, and make sure it has the equipment on hand to stay connected. Technological innovations like the Radio Hailer and other AmpliVox emergency sound products make it possible for any community, military and government installation, school, or business to have a cost-effective, reliable, and portable long-range communication system, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.