- For mobile and portable communications the conventional radio is the most used instrument and still holds first place. However, trunking radio technology, which, as of now, does not have a data capability, is slowly catching up and the cell phone is actually being relied on more and more.
- HF (voice and data) radio is again, in a small way, becoming more popular for regional and statewide use.
- Preparing to handle an emergency. This includes plans or preparations to save lives and to help response and rescue operations.
- Responding safely to an emergency. This includes actions taken to save lives and prevent further property damage during a disaster or emergency situation.
- Recovering from an emergency includes actions taken to return to a normal, or even a safer situation following an emergency.
- Preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects. This includes any activities that might prevent an emergency from happening again, or reducing the severity of unavoidable emergencies.
After an examination of the above four phases we can see that emergency management is a full circle of never ending activities.
Looking a little closer it can be seen that the cell phone system will work fine in most of the four phases. The preparedness and mitigation phases present no problems at all. The exception is perhaps during exercises, and this is where problems are supposed to be discovered and where the cell system can fool you. ("I don't understand it. These here cell phones worked just fine when we did our exercise in this area just two months before this here quake!") The recovery phase is almost never a problem, because the cell carriers have almost always had time to recover. Obviously the response phase (in the area of the incident) is the time to be concerned. This is when Murphy will insure that all the problems mentioned above will come into play.
Now, outside the area of the incident, the cell phone is a great tool. I couldn't have met my public safety responsibilities during the '97 New Years Flood in California without it. Those responsibilities included arranging for conventional radio equipped operator mutual aid response for a multi-agency, multi-government incident, into flooded metropolitan and semi-rural areas along a major north/south highway corridor where cell service is normally abundant. This I accomplished from an area some 50-75 miles away where the cell service was working just fine.
Continues next week