The Call - Winter 2016 - 11

else do we have to rely on in a disaster
but the experience and training we have
conducted?" Most often the majority
of emergency service workers will have
never experienced anything like this
disaster in their careers. Preparing for
what will "never happen" will ensure we
will be able to rise up to the need when it
actually comes to fruition.

Contingency Plans are Essential
Our 9‑1‑1 systems are built to be
fail proof, right? A lesson that can be
extracted from any large disaster is the
need for alternate plans to your 9‑1‑1
system. This would include phone and
radio communications. In a disaster of
this magnitude, most centers could not
be prepared to have the communication
paths or personnel to answer all of the
calls for assistance. The 9‑1‑1 centers
quickly became overloaded and
overwhelmed with the massive number
of calls. In addition, radio frequencies
were busied out with the mass number
of responders trying to communicate.
Added to the destruction was the loss of
cell towers that were overtaken by fire,
or just overwhelmed with demand.
Most of us in emergency
communications are proficient in
planning for alternates for 9‑1‑1 and
communications in the events of
complete failures to the system. If a line is
cut, we have a plan. If a radio goes down,
we have a plan for that, too. However,
do we plan for the calls that may go
unanswered just because we do not have
enough physical personnel in these high

call volume times? If your agency does
not have some true disaster planning,
now is a good time to start. Plan for
some alternate routing when your center
hits call load capacity. Work with other
agencies to assist with the overflow calls;
also consider you may need more than
one back up agency to ensure you do not
overwhelm your neighboring center with
your call volume. Disaster plans should
include how to assist with the call‑taking,
and how to relay that information back to
you. If you are fortunate enough to have
a back up facility for your 9‑1‑1 center,
ensure your operational plans include
utilizing that center during disasters and
not just for failures.
In Tennessee there are multiple
statewide mutual aid frequencies that
are available to any emergency response
agency within the state. This is essential
in large disasters such as this where
departments from all of the state have
convened in one area. Often the outside
responders will not have the frequency
used by the jurisdictional department
programmed in their radios. These
statewide mutual aid frequencies allow
every person to be able to communicate
on them once assigned. Of course, the
dilemma with these mutual aid channels
can be the lack of education concerning
them. Often, we find after a disaster
that the communications professionals
handling the frequencies may not be
aware of these channels. In cases where
they are aware that they exist, they
may not understand the capabilities
of the frequency. On the flip side, the

responders may have never been taught
about these channels or even know they
have them programmed in their hand
held radios.
As part of planning, leaders should
ensure any resource such as a statewide
mutual aid channel is available to
all responders and communications
officials. The channel should be labeled
in a way that everyone knows what they
are. These channels should be tested on
a regular basis, probably monthly at a
minimum. These frequencies should be
routinely assigned by communications
professionals to departments on
normal events, as to make them more
comfortable during disaster times.
As communications officials, we
tend to be happier in our normal
environments when everything is
working as normal and routine. Times of
disaster remind us that it is a necessity
that we step out of our comfort zone
and simulate abnormal events to test
our contingency and disaster plans. It is
our responsibility to ensure the plans we
have in place to meet the needs of our
communities have been tested and are
effective. The time to learn that a plan
does not actually work as intended is not
in the midst of a large scale disaster.

"Take Care of Each Man as Though
He Were Your Own Bother.
He Is" - William Woodbridge
All of us know that a brotherhood
and unity unlike any other exists
in emergency services. When one

Read the digital edition at‑nxt/


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2016

President’s Message
From the CEO
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
Government Affairs
10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
Tech Trends
NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
Educational and Operational Issues
Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover1
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover2
The Call - Winter 2016 - 3
The Call - Winter 2016 - 4
The Call - Winter 2016 - 5
The Call - Winter 2016 - 6
The Call - Winter 2016 - 7
The Call - Winter 2016 - President’s Message
The Call - Winter 2016 - From the CEO
The Call - Winter 2016 - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
The Call - Winter 2016 - 11
The Call - Winter 2016 - 12
The Call - Winter 2016 - Government Affairs
The Call - Winter 2016 - 10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
The Call - Winter 2016 - 15
The Call - Winter 2016 - 16
The Call - Winter 2016 - 17
The Call - Winter 2016 - 18
The Call - Winter 2016 - Tech Trends
The Call - Winter 2016 - NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
The Call - Winter 2016 - 21
The Call - Winter 2016 - 22
The Call - Winter 2016 - Operations
The Call - Winter 2016 - Educational and Operational Issues
The Call - Winter 2016 - 25
The Call - Winter 2016 - Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
The Call - Winter 2016 - 27
The Call - Winter 2016 - 28
The Call - Winter 2016 - 29
The Call - Winter 2016 - 30
The Call - Winter 2016 - 31
The Call - Winter 2016 - 32
The Call - Winter 2016 - 33
The Call - Winter 2016 - Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover3
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover4