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How to Stay Connected During Natural Disasters

Why Land Mobile Radio Continues to be the Backbone for Critical Communications

by Tait Communications / March 8, 2017

Many of us know all too well the complete destruction and utter chaos natural disasters can cause. Whether it be a hurricane, earthquake, monsoon, tornado or blizzard, catastrophic natural events can wipe out entire landscapes, destroy homes, and cut off communities in an instant. 

In emergencies of this magnitude, the public rely on emergency recovery and response crews to provide assistance and first aid, restore and maintain safety, and help return life to normalcy. In turn, these crews need to know that they have a system of their own that they can rely on.

Communications are the pillar of any emergency response and recovery effort. They allow crews to coordinate tasks, keep one another informed of developing information, and maintain safety within their own organizations. It’s vital that emergency crews are confident that they have a reliable, resilient communications system to allow them to safely and effectively continue their efforts.

So, when nature bears down with its destructive forces, what is the most reliable communications solution for those who are relied on most? There have been many innovations in the world of mission critical communications, but land mobile radio (LMR) continues to hold its own as the reliable backbone for critical communications, thanks to several key features:


Power backups

When major storms or disasters strike, often one of the first results are power outages. Mobile radio networks, like Tait P25 solutions, are most often designed with this in mind. Network and repeater sites are built for system resiliency and include features that help them continue to run during prolonged power outages. Generators, battery backup, or wind or solar power can be built-in, and sites programmed to automatically switch over to these backup power sources. This enables the radio infrastructure to continue working, and is typically provisioned to last for several days where external power is unavailable.


Off-network calls

Where complete power outages are inevitable, mobile radio can still continue to operate. The system is designed so that within a district, the transmitter and receiver can operate on the same frequency and do not rely on repeaters. This mode, called simplex or direct, means that even in the event of network infrastructure failure, hand-held portables and vehicle-based mobiles can talk around the network. Even if users are several miles apart, they can continue talking to one another within line of sight, as long as there are no large obstructions between them.


Dedicated channels

Cellular networks available to the public are often overloaded with congestion following significant disasters. As a result, text messages and calls fail to go through. Call failures are unacceptable for emergency crews, which is why radio networks provide dedicated channels for the organizations that use them. Though radio networks can still become congested in these situations, system management allows for emergency call prioritization. This feature is available on networks like Tait DMR Tier 3, which offers optimum call availability, enabling high-priority calls to continue to get through.


Mobile & portable battery life

Emergency personnel are often out in the field for prolonged and unpredictable periods of time. It’s crucial that they are equipped with handheld communications devices that will last throughout their entire shift. Portable radios are built specifically for extended periods of use. Depending on the duty cycle, the typical shift life of a handheld radio is about 8-12 hours, and can be recharged via spare battery packs or vehicle chargers, if necessary.


Robust, resilient design

Natural disasters, by definition, present extreme environments. First responders rush in where others rush out, encountering challenging conditions including rain, snow, ice, heat, dust, mud, and rubble. The portable devices they take with them into the field must be able to withstand these extremities. Handheld radios, like Tait Tough portables, are engineered to operate in extreme conditions, and the network they run on is designed to be just as resilient. 

When lives are on the line, it’s crucial to have systems you can count on in place. If you’re looking for advice or help with your critical communications, then talk to Tait Communications today. With nearly 50 years of experience, we’re passionate about building tough communication systems that work when you need them most.

To learn more about preparing your organization in the event of a disaster, download the free white paper from Tait, Race Against Time; Emergency Response – Preventing Escalating Chaos in a Disaster.


About Tait Communications

Our clients protect communities, power cities, move citizens, harness resources and save lives all over the world. We work with them to create and support the critical communication solutions they depend on to do their jobs.

Digital wireless communication forms the central nervous system of everything we do. Around this resilient, robust core we design, develop, manufacture, test, deploy, support and manage innovative communication environments for organizations that have to put their total trust in the systems and people they work with.

We've worked hard to develop genuine insight into our clients' worlds, and have pursued engineering, operational and services excellence for nearly 50 years. This understanding, and our belief in championing open-standards technology, means we can give our clients the best possible choice and value to achieve the human outcomes they're driven by.

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