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Why Do We Always Blame Communications?

Dan Nelson  (Operations Manager, Alaska Land Mobile Radio)

Location: N260

Date: Monday, March 21

Time: 10:00 am - 10:45 am

Track: Emergency Comms: LMR, LTE, 5G, Miscellaneous

Format: Power Session

Vault Recording: TBD

In almost all After Action Reports after a major event, disaster, or exercise, communications will be at or near the top of issues identified. Although this has been true for many years, we don't always seem to make progress in making the communications landscape better. In this session we will discuss how to get ahead of these issues before your next event or training. We will cover technology issues, but more related to training, policy and procedure, and expectation management to ensure your participants know how to use the technology, understand it's limitations, and match their expectations with what the tools can provide.


- Blaming technology is an easy way out. While there are tech issues, communications issues also encompass how the tools are used, what they can and can't do, and making sure responders and participants are familiar with them.

- A training program, including just in time training, can help emergency responders pick the right tool for the job. What type of messages are being sent in the individual role? If it's a police officer, she may be concerned more with tactical voice traffic over a radio. If it's a planning section chief on a team, he may need to transmit documents and long form plans to a wide audience. As communications professionals, it's up to us to identify those needs and expectations for each individual position on an incident and assist them with their use.

- Sometimes it's the method, sometimes it's the message. A common trend for many communications is to blame the medium, but sometimes it's the content of the communication. This might be outside the scope of a communications technician, but we can work with organizations and teams to mitigate that issue and set them up for success.