Emergencies come with a myriad of challenges with some acting as a crude lesson for future emergency responses. Communication among the team members is a critical component of the evacuation process (Turoff, et al., 2004). In the case of miscommunication, it means that the team may not achieve its optimum objective of saving the lives of the affected individuals. Thus, proper communication tools have been designed over the years to support communication during such processes (SAFETYINFO.COM, 2014). The two-way-radio has been one of the inventions that have become crucial in evacuation procedures. However, it has not been without its challenges. These challenges are related to its signal response limitation. Two-way radios are designed to communicate through visible point to point repeater towers.
The Incident commander should thus find a solution to this limitation especially where tall buildings or underground evacuation is involved. During the training, it is thus crucial that the incident commander utilizes hand signal as an important aspect of communication and as a fall back plan in the case of two-way radio failure (SAFETYINFO.COM, 2014). Similar, the evacuation team members especially those who access the risky sections during operation should be allowed to use high frequency radios during training to impart the with practical knowledge of using the devices when the two-way radio fails. On the other hand, the incident commander should group the evacuation team into groups and train them on taking positions in such a way that communication between the lower level evacuation team and the ‘high-risk’ evacuation group is a continuum.
A notable failure of the two-way radio failure is during the Hurricane Sandy when the cell-towers were overstretched by the demands of communication. This hampered to a great deal the evacuation plan, as the rescue team could not communicate ideally with the other members including the Incident Commanders. Similarly, the Washington Navy Yard shooting incident in September 2013 explains another case of miscommunication that led to the loss of several lives as communication was again hampered by faulty devices and overstretched use of two-way radios by both the military and the rescue teams (Turoff, et al., 2004).
It is imperative that the federal authorities come up with a concrete dedicated network that can be applicable in extreme conditions of emergency, and that can enable both security and rescue teams to share information during such situations. Similarly, the devices should be made in such a way that they can detect weak signals (SAFETYINFO.COM, 2014). This implies that the emergency network built should be robust enough to allow rescuers to communicate well in order to avoid further loss of life as witnessed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack where rescuers lost lives due to communication breakdown.
SAFETYINFO.COM (2014). Emergency Management Planning Guide. Retrieved from http://www.safetyinfo.com/guests/Emergency-Management-Program-Considerations.htm
Turoff, M., Chumer, M., Van de Walle, B., & Yao, X. (2004). The design of a dynamic emergency response management information system (DERMIS).JITTA, 5(4), 1-35.