Public Safety Communications Is Not Just About First Responders

Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Federal Communications Commission (and other code-governing bodies like the NFPA and IFC)  toughened their guidelines to ensure First Responders can communicate in emergency situations. This means that many city, county and state jurisdictions now require building owners provide satisfactory in-building wireless connectivity for First Responders using public safety radios and communication devices.

The idea is that when firefighters walk into a burning building, they know they will be able to use their 2-way radios to communicate with personnel outside the building and/or with their local dispatch. This often requires the building owner to deploy a single-purpose radio system just to support Public Safety communication devices. These systems must be robust enough to withstand the challenging conditions of most emergency situations.

But what about the civilians (i.e. non-emergency personnel) who are caught up in these situations? In many instances, the best and fastest information comes from those experiencing the emergency first hand, but their ability to communicate often gets overlooked in the effort to satisfy Public Safety requirements. With a mobile device in just about everyone’s pocket, why not ensure these individuals, as well as First Responders, can communicate with each other and the outside world?

Those experiencing the emergency will typically be the first to report the incident, will be the first to provide the details and extent of the emergency, and will be able to provide updates until First Responders arrive. Most importantly, loved ones are likely to be better informed if individuals at the scene of the emergency can communicate effectively.

Certainly, reliable Public Safety communications indoors is critical for First Responders to do their jobs in times of emergency. At the same time, let’s not undervalue the importance of other individuals at the scene to communicate effectively.  

As a building owner who is deploying a Public Safety DAS, why not consider a DAS for cellular communications as well? After all, Public Safety is not just about First Responders but rather everyone involved in an emergency.


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