A Matter of Readiness

It seems that when planning and preparing to be ready there is always something that each new situation teaches us. The past 48 hours is a good example of this. To many get to the point that they think “oh it that wouldn’t happen here” even some skilled first responder have overlooked some of the basics at times.

  • What about that GO-KIT, JUMP-KIT, BUG-OUT Bag is it ready all the time?
  • Is the content of your GO-KIT fresh (good batteries, rations ready, how about water)?
  • In case the response is a longer than the normal 72 hours, do you have a “little extra?”
  • Do you have some gear prestaged in multiple locations (at home, work, workshop, in vehicle, etc.)?

Something else to consider is the location of shelters and safe rooms. When you are out on the road do you know where the nearest shelter is? Hopefully no one will need to rely upon a ditch for cover (even as a last resort).

When possible pre-plan and be situational aware where safe facilities are located in the areas that you are in. With technology that is available that can provide guidance on the potential risk zone days in advance there is no reason for anyone to say “I didn’t know where to find shelter.”

Double check your GO-KIT, JUMP-KIT, BUG-OUT Bag make sure it is indeed Ready To Go the next time the call to Boot Up Be Ready is sounded.

Communications Neglect

How often is criticism given? When we are frequently criticized for the same actions by different people, there’s a good chance the criticism is legitimate and appropriate action should be taken. In emergency management we are often criticized by the media, without them fully understanding our situation. This shows the importance of good relations and communicating one and another’s needs.

For rapid emergency information delivery demands proficiency in collecting, authenticating and disseminating information. The very nature of emergencies means performing in amazingly difficult and demanding conditions. Local emergencies and disasters are distinguished by disruptions in normal operations, impediments within communication systems and problems with transportation systems and routes. In addition the human factor of victims, responders, managers and policy makers who may be astonished, stressed and even terrified or confused.

The highest priority should always be given to meeting the needs of the public, as they are the reason that public safety and emergency management exist. The public demands and is entitled to information that will help them to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. In order to accomplish this task we need to first gain credibility with the local media. How can we do this?In the paper Introduction to Emergency Public Information it is stated:

To achieve any measure of credibility in media relations, the PIO (or emergency manager in our case) must first establish credibility with all of the players and participants in the local media. To do this, you must know the media, be able to meet their needs, and be able to explain your needs to them.

Include the media in day-to-day activities, on disaster exercises, and in training events. It goes without saying that this “proactive” approach to dealing with the media will serve both your needs and those of the media.

We also need to have the following six basic skills:

  • writing
  • public speaking
  • audio-visual skills
  • community relations
  • media relations
  • computer skills

In addition to the six basic skills we need to be competent in the following community relations areas:

  • interpersonal communication and people skills
  • awareness of the community demographics, values, and concerns
  • attitudes about emergency preparedness
  • citizen-community involvement in government
  • social and religious activities
  • working understanding of organizational relations

A solid working relationship with the media will enhance our image and help in delivering our message to the public. This is done by meeting the needs of community, media, and other government agencies within our jurisdiction. Disasters don’t occur every day so it is a real challenge to prepare individual citizens, and agencies for an event(s) that may happen only once in a lifetime. The support of elected officials is a tremendous asset in the enormous endeavor to promote emergency preparedness within the community.

An example of what can happen when there is not a working relationship with the media is the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The Russians acknowledged their errors and recognized that additional damage to their relations with the West was caused by lack of communications. At an international conference Professor Yassen Zassoursky, dean of the faculty of journalism at Moscow University said:

We are to blame we didn’t let people in the world know what was happening and that included neighbouring [sic] nations. It was only two weeks after the explosion that a press conference was called to try and make up for some loss credibility.

We were not good at communications and this delay meant a lot of speculation in the Western media … (Wilkinson, p63)

On the other hand, Occidental International Oil’s handling of the Piper Alpha catastrophe was characterized as being a “textbook” case of crisis communications management. The press office was operational within 14 minutes after receiving notification via telex of the Piper incident and building statement went out immediately. The first press conference was taking place within minutes, and a team of 35 specially trained office staff members were sent to a special crisis management unit, fielding media calls round the clock on a shift basis. Armand Hammer, president of Occidental flew in to Aberdeen, Scotland and was talking openly and honestly to the media. Nothing could detract from the media postmortem that Occidental faced, but they were not exposed to the “mauling” that companies less open in comparable positions, have grieved.

The above examples illustrate the importance of the eight areas of communications, the areas are:

  1. Truthfulness and openness – give the good news as well as the bad, respond to request for further information where confidentiality allows, respond to criticism and suggestions.
  2. Inclusiveness of information – a fleeting response, or a snappy turn-off to views we don’t like cause boundless harm.
  3. Simplification of information – we need to have simplified to a stage where one sentence, almost a slogan, will describe what we believe, and what we can accept. . . We haggle and argue over single words. But we know we have “got it,” and when we have got it, we believe it can work do it.
  4. Setting the overall direction of an organization – a company should be developed from both ends at once in order to gain the commitment of those who will have to follow the direction and “make it happen” … understanding of both where the ultimate goal is and the process by which the decisions regarding the goal have been reached.
  5. Decision making – if the right decisions are to be taken, it is essential that conflicting views are heard and thrashed out. The fact that you are up at the top of a business hierarchy does not confer all-seeing wisdom.
  6. Initiation of action – in a good organization, the objectives that have to be achieved are decided with considerable interaction between those who are going to carry them out, and those who ultimately have responsibility for leadership.
  7. Bad news / Good news – bad news in organizations is seldom received with much enthusiasm. The reality of life is, of course, that it is the bad news man who should be the most prized. It is all to easy to get people who will tell us nice things, and after all there is not a lot we can do about that. But who will stand up without fear or favor and tell us hopefully tactfully, that things are not really the way that everybody else thinks they are; are pearls beyond price.
  8. External versus the internal perspective – the needs of one person is great. They wish to feel that they are doing a worthwhile job, which makes some contributions to society.

By following these rules when communicating with the media, other response organizations, elected officials, and the general public our credibility will increase by these people knowing that we mean what we say. Our objectives and goals as leaders will be achieved more easily because of good communications.


Sources used:

Original essay by MWR, 1994.

The Communications Challenge. edited by Theon Wilkinson. London. Institute of Personal Management, 1989.

Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness. by Phillip G. Clampitt, Newbury Park. Sage Publications, 1991.

The eight areas were based on information from The Communications Challenge also.

Exactly

Sometimes it is just a plain good idea to know where you are at. Especially when working on a server remotely. Never fun to get locked out because you were using the wrong credentials on the wrong server. Whoops! Huh?

2016

Need to do some recruiting so that resources can be within the “neighborhood.” This will make it a lot easier to test the HSMM gear.

Then continue on with the following objectives:

  • Develop Alternative Communication Resources

    • develop resources that reach into neighborhood settings

      • what is needed to cover individual areas (within 2 to 5 mile radius, 10 mile radius, et al)?
      • resources that are quick to deploy and easy to operate
    • develop ways to use WiFi technology for delivery of critical information
      • most smart phones have WiFi available that can be used with hot spots for localized communications
      • with additional Amateur Radio Operators a resource similar to WiFi called High Speed Multi Media (HSMM) can be used
        • HSMM provides longer range communication via higher gain antennas and higher RF power that is available
  • Everyone needs a PAS (Portable Asterisk Server) a IP-PBX package that fits in nicely with high speed multi media. As well as being a able to create its own network without the need to connect to a master database. With the miniaturization of computers the PAS can be operate with very low power consumption.

    • The PAS will work along with the HSMM creating a local and extended range wireless telephone network.
  • Additional Training opportunities plan on “in person” and online training.

A Matter of Readiness

It seems that when planning and preparing to be ready there is always something that each new situation teaches us. The past 48 hours is a good example of this. To many get to the point that they think “oh it that wouldn’t happen here” even some skilled first responder have overlooked some of the basics at times.

  • What about that GO-KIT, JUMP-KIT, BUG-OUT Bag is it ready all the time?
  • Is the content of your GO-KIT fresh (good batteries, rations ready, how about water)?
  • In case the response is a longer than the normal 72 hours, do you have a “little extra?”
  • Do you have some gear prestaged in multiple locations (at home, work, workshop, in vehicle, etc.)?

Something else to consider is the location of shelters and safe rooms. When you are out on the road do you know where the nearest shelter is? Hopefully no one will need to rely upon a ditch for cover (even as a last resort).

When possible pre-plan and be situational aware where safe facilities are located in the areas that you are in. With technology that is available that can provide guidance on the potential risk zone days in advance there is no reason for anyone to say “I didn’t know where to find shelter.”

Double check your GO-KIT, JUMP-KIT, BUG-OUT Bag make sure it is indeed Ready To Go the next time the call to Boot Up Be Ready is sounded.

Communications Neglect

How often is criticism given? When we are frequently criticized for the same actions by different people, there’s a good chance the criticism is legitimate and appropriate action should be taken. In emergency management we are often criticized by the media, without them fully understanding our situation. This shows the importance of good relations and communicating one and another’s needs.

For rapid emergency information delivery demands proficiency in collecting, authenticating and disseminating information. The very nature of emergencies means performing in amazingly difficult and demanding conditions. Local emergencies and disasters are distinguished by disruptions in normal operations, impediments within communication systems and problems with transportation systems and routes. In addition the human factor of victims, responders, managers and policy makers who may be astonished, stressed and even terrified or confused.

The highest priority should always be given to meeting the needs of the public, as they are the reason that public safety and emergency management exist. The public demands and is entitled to information that will help them to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. In order to accomplish this task we need to first gain credibility with the local media. How can we do this?In the paper Introduction to Emergency Public Information it is stated:

To achieve any measure of credibility in media relations, the PIO (or emergency manager in our case) must first establish credibility with all of the players and participants in the local media. To do this, you must know the media, be able to meet their needs, and be able to explain your needs to them.

Include the media in day-to-day activities, on disaster exercises, and in training events. It goes without saying that this “proactive” approach to dealing with the media will serve both your needs and those of the media.

We also need to have the following six basic skills:

  • writing
  • public speaking
  • audio-visual skills
  • community relations
  • media relations
  • computer skills

In addition to the six basic skills we need to be competent in the following community relations areas:

  • interpersonal communication and people skills
  • awareness of the community demographics, values, and concerns
  • attitudes about emergency preparedness
  • citizen-community involvement in government
  • social and religious activities
  • working understanding of organizational relations

A solid working relationship with the media will enhance our image and help in delivering our message to the public. This is done by meeting the needs of community, media, and other government agencies within our jurisdiction. Disasters don’t occur every day so it is a real challenge to prepare individual citizens, and agencies for an event(s) that may happen only once in a lifetime. The support of elected officials is a tremendous asset in the enormous endeavor to promote emergency preparedness within the community.

An example of what can happen when there is not a working relationship with the media is the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The Russians acknowledged their errors and recognized that additional damage to their relations with the West was caused by lack of communications. At an international conference Professor Yassen Zassoursky, dean of the faculty of journalism at Moscow University said:

We are to blame we didn’t let people in the world know what was happening and that included neighbouring [sic] nations. It was only two weeks after the explosion that a press conference was called to try and make up for some loss credibility.

We were not good at communications and this delay meant a lot of speculation in the Western media … (Wilkinson, p63)

On the other hand, Occidental International Oil’s handling of the Piper Alpha catastrophe was characterized as being a “textbook” case of crisis communications management. The press office was operational within 14 minutes after receiving notification via telex of the Piper incident and building statement went out immediately. The first press conference was taking place within minutes, and a team of 35 specially trained office staff members were sent to a special crisis management unit, fielding media calls round the clock on a shift basis. Armand Hammer, president of Occidental flew in to Aberdeen, Scotland and was talking openly and honestly to the media. Nothing could detract from the media postmortem that Occidental faced, but they were not exposed to the “mauling” that companies less open in comparable positions, have grieved.

The above examples illustrate the importance of the eight areas of communications, the areas are:

  1. Truthfulness and openness – give the good news as well as the bad, respond to request for further information where confidentiality allows, respond to criticism and suggestions.
  2. Inclusiveness of information – a fleeting response, or a snappy turn-off to views we don’t like cause boundless harm.
  3. Simplification of information – we need to have simplified to a stage where one sentence, almost a slogan, will describe what we believe, and what we can accept. . . We haggle and argue over single words. But we know we have “got it,” and when we have got it, we believe it can work do it.
  4. Setting the overall direction of an organization – a company should be developed from both ends at once in order to gain the commitment of those who will have to follow the direction and “make it happen” … understanding of both where the ultimate goal is and the process by which the decisions regarding the goal have been reached.
  5. Decision making – if the right decisions are to be taken, it is essential that conflicting views are heard and thrashed out. The fact that you are up at the top of a business hierarchy does not confer all-seeing wisdom.
  6. Initiation of action – in a good organization, the objectives that have to be achieved are decided with considerable interaction between those who are going to carry them out, and those who ultimately have responsibility for leadership.
  7. Bad news / Good news – bad news in organizations is seldom received with much enthusiasm. The reality of life is, of course, that it is the bad news man who should be the most prized. It is all to easy to get people who will tell us nice things, and after all there is not a lot we can do about that. But who will stand up without fear or favor and tell us hopefully tactfully, that things are not really the way that everybody else thinks they are; are pearls beyond price.
  8. External versus the internal perspective – the needs of one person is great. They wish to feel that they are doing a worthwhile job, which makes some contributions to society.

By following these rules when communicating with the media, other response organizations, elected officials, and the general public our credibility will increase by these people knowing that we mean what we say. Our objectives and goals as leaders will be achieved more easily because of good communications.


Sources used:

Original essay by MWR, 1994.

The Communications Challenge. edited by Theon Wilkinson. London. Institute of Personal Management, 1989.

Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness. by Phillip G. Clampitt, Newbury Park. Sage Publications, 1991.

The eight areas were based on information from The Communications Challenge also.

2015

Here are some items to work on this year.

  • Develop Alternative Communication Resources

    • develop resources that reach into neighborhood settings

      • what is needed to cover individual areas (within 2 to 5 mile radius)?
      • resources that are quick to deploy and easy to operate
    • develop ways to use WiFi technology for delivery of critical information
      • most smart phones have WiFi available that can be used with hot spots for localized communications
      • with additional Amateur Radio Operators a resource similar to WiFi called High Speed Multi Media (HSMM) can be used
        • HSMM provides longer range communication via higher gain antennas and higher RF power that is available
  • Everyone needs a PAS (Portable Asterisk Server) a IP-PBX package that fits in nicely with high speed multi media. As well as being a able to create its own network without the need to connect to a master database. With the miniaturization of computers the PAS can be operate with very low power consumption.

    • The PAS will work along with the HSMM creating a local and extended range wireless telephone network.
  • Additional Training opportunities plan on “in person” and online training.

What are FXS & FXO?

What are FXS & FXO?

FXS — Foreign Exchange Station

FXO — Foreign Exchange Office

An FXS device initiates and sends ringing voltage. FXS sends the voltage to an FXO device, which receives it.

The phone receiving the call is the last FXO device in the chain, and when it receives voltage from an FXS device, the phone will ring.

Connect the outside line to an FXO port on your Asterisk server to receive voltage from the outside lines.

Connect the phones to FXS ports on your Asterisk server. When the FXO module in your Asterisk Server receives the voltage, it will then generate voltage using the FXS module and send it to your analog phone.

Hint: Remember the “to”… FXS = FX(to)Station and FXO = FX(to)Office.
With “to” representing the direction taken by the signal.

Digital Voices

Digital Voices – The Formats Presently Being Used in Public Safety and Amateur Radio

APCO P25 Phase I is the present version that is in used across the country for Digital Public Safety, the P25 “open” standard has been reworked by some manufacturers limiting some of the standardization that the P25 was hoped to present..

P25 Phase I has the ability to function as a analog system or digital system.

P25 Presently operates via FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) with the plan for P25 Phase II to use TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access), P25 Phase II will also have the capability to “roll-back” to FDMA for “conventional emergency operations.”


D-STAR is a Amateur Radio system which offers digital voice and data communication. It connects repeater sites over microwave links and the Internet and forms a wide area Amateur Radio network.

The D-STAR system provides a new capability and functionality to the Amateur Radio world and increases the efficiency of emergency communications.

D-STAR provides digital voice at 4k8 baud and data is available via 1.2GHz at a rate up to 128kbps via GMSK modulation – Gaussian Mask Shift Keying,

On VHF and UHF digital voice plus 950bps data can coexist on the same channel.

At the present time only Icom is making transceivers with D-STAR capability. With experimentation one can modify other transceivers for D-STAR Connectivity.

Fixed Base (i.e. repeaters) do not have analog capabilities – Strictly Digital Only.

Mobile/Porable D-STAR enabled equipment have both analog and digital capabilities.


MotoTRBO(tm) MotoTRBO is a product of Motorola with the primary market being Industrial-Business Sector. MotoTRBO is designed to operate digital only on a single 12.5kHz channel by slicing the digital transmissions into time slots thus creating to available channels via TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access).

Data throughput is 2k0 per time slot.

MotoTRBO has analog capability (repeaters can be programmed to operate analog or digital, mobiles and portables can operate analog and digital).


NXDN was designed by Icom and Kenwood primarily for the Industrial-Business Sector.

NXDN is marketed by Icom as IDAS (Icom Digital Advanced System) and Kenwood as NEXEDGE. With channels at true 6.25kHz channel spacing using FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access).

NXDN provides 9k6 @ 8.3kHz bandwidth and 4k8 @ 4kHz bandwidth.

NXDN is compatible with analog systems thus making migration from analog to digital easier. Some of the companies participating in NXDN equipment development include: Daniel Electronics, Icom, Kenwood and Ritron among others.