Two Way Radios for Emergency Communications

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Two way radios have long been a reliable tool for emergency communications. From hiking in the fells or mountains to the worrying scenario of a natural disaster, the humble two way radio can be invaluable in an emergency.

Common emergency situations

Mountain Safety

While a Sunday afternoon jaunt over the hills doesn’t immediately seem like a potentially risky situation, weather changes in hilly and remote areas can leave even the most seasoned hiker stranded. And getting lost or injured can have dire consequences, too.

Learn how we helped an events company to plan for effective emergency communications in the mountains using two way radios.

Safety at sea

The UK has some stunning coastline to explore.  But staying safe at sea is a serious business, with the RNLI stating that they rescue two people from boats every day.  In emergency situations, VHF radios are most commonly used in marine situations or by search and rescue (SAR) organisations on both land and at sea.

Distress calls are usually picked up by the Coastguard and so are of most use when at sea and walking in coastal areas of the British Isles, in areas that may be in range of a coastguard receiver. 

SAR organisations in the UK are able to make use of their own dedicated VHF radio signals to coordinate effective operations.

Disaster planning

The UK is fairly sheltered from huge natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, but civil emergencies caused by flooding are becoming an increasingly common event, putting lives and property in danger.

The government, emergency and charity organisations have disaster management plans in place for this type of scenario, in addition to terrorist and cyber-attacks. 

In any disaster situation, when power lines could be cut and difficult conditions hinder or block mobile phone signals, two way radios are vital to establish lines of communication between the emergency and rescue services.

Chierda have experience in supporting hospitals and the emergency services, having set up a digital two way radio system for The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital in the West Midlands.

Why mobile phones may not be best for emergencies

None of us are ever far from a mobile phone these days, but how much use would they really be in an emergency? Their effectiveness is dependent on the availability of a signal and the cost of subscribing to a provider. 

Mobile signals are less reliable in rural and remote areas than in urban ones; you shouldn’t assume that you will always be able to communicate by mobile.

In addition, mobile phones don’t provide instant connection (you have to dial and wait for someone to answer) and they don’t have the advanced emergency features that digital two way radios have.

What about satellite phones?

Satellite communications are most useful in remote areas where there is no cellular network and no means of installing radio transmitters. 

Of all the communication methods, satellite is the most expensive.  The user is usually joining an existing network and will need to pay a service provider.

Satellite signals can easily be obstructed by a hard object, such as trees, walls, roofs or the hull of a boat.  They are also sensitive to atmospheric conditions.

Whatever emergency situation you envisage, there are a range of communication options to help you deal with it.

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