By Don Roth, CEO of AmpliVox Sound Systems
When emergencies arise in crowded areas, the first priority of first responders is to quickly move civilians to places of safety.
Whether the emergency is related to accidents, natural causes, criminal activity, or terrorist violence, panic and confusion in the crowd can greatly increase the risk of casualties.
When public safety is on the line, it is vital that law enforcement, fire departments, and other emergency responders have the ability to clearly communicate with large groups of people on a moment’s notice.
All too often, emergency situations create obstacles to communication – power may be cut off, access routes may be blocked, isolated response teams may be operating with inaccurate information, or teams may have difficulty getting instructions to large groups of frightened people.
In establishing disaster preparedness plans, emergency personnel in all settings should have equipment on hand to guarantee that, whatever obstacles arise, communication lines will remain available.
Portable sound systems are an essential tool for responders to have on hand for these unpredictable public safety situations.
Today’s systems come in a wide variety of models to serve different functions, but one central purpose is common to all: providing reliable, grab-and-go communication to calm, direct, and inform large groups of people in times of crisis.
Consider how form follows function to fit the needs of your response requirements:
Coordinate communication from centralized authority
Emergency leadership may need to direct response teams and civilians from remote locations.
Sound systems can provide closed communication networks to cover large areas, using MURS two-way radios and radio-connected hailer speakers.
Multiple speakers can be set up in seconds in locations up to a mile apart, allowing for the broadest communication coverage from a single command center.
AmpliVox Sound Systems developed its Radio Hailer system for private security applications for the investment firm Goldman Sachs, allowing management to coordinate safety communication from multiple locations around its New York City and Jersey City offices.
(The Radio Hailer from AmpliVox uses two-way MURS radios and powerful Hailer loudspeakers for large-scale coverage from a remote, centralized command center. Courtesy of AmpliVox and YouTube)
Keep powerful megaphones on hand for swift response
Megaphones pack a great deal of versatility and power into compact, portable units. These easy-to-use sound systems are ready for action when needed, even under harsh conditions.
Today’s best megaphones use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to reduce weight and provide long-lasting charges, whether in use or on the shelf.
They can deliver voice coverage up to a mile, and also grab attention with on-board horn or siren functions.
For added safety and visibility, consider a megaphone that includes an integrated strobe signal light signal.
AmpliVox provides its Mity Meg Rechargeable Megaphones to the American Red Cross to help disaster response teams coordinate emergency services.
(American Red Cross teams use AmpliVox’s SB602MR Mity Meg Rechargeable Megaphone for clear, powerful voice projection from an easy-to-use unit weighing just 2.5 lbs. Courtesy of AmpliVox and YouTube)
Combine visual cues with audio support for maximum impact
In a chaotic evacuation, people will be looking for visible direction from authorities.
Visibility can be greatly enhanced, even in dark or smoky situations, with simple tools like lighted traffic batons.
Innovative new products now combine that visual support with audio loudspeakers to guide people to safety.
Useful in any traffic control or crowd management situation, these versatile products are especially helpful in emergencies.
(The AmpliVox S606 Safety Wand Megaphone combines a highly visible LED safety wand with an integrated PA system and detachable microphone. Courtesy of AmpliVox and YouTube)
Use vehicles as mobile command stations
When covering large areas, roof-mounted sound systems on emergency vehicles provide the most mobile and effective means of communication.
Durable, powerful hailer loudspeakers can be heard for up to half a mile.
They can be attached in minutes and powered directly from the vehicle.
(AmpliVox’s S/SW312 Sound Cruiser mounts to the roof of any vehicle with suction cups, providing mobile sound coverage with a range of a half mile. Courtesy of AmpliVox and YouTube)
These examples demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness that portable sound systems offer for emergency responders.
Easy to use and ready to go, these emergency tools improve communication in any crowd control situation – which means improved safety for civilians as well as responders.
Now more than ever, investing in reliable sound equipment must be a central part of any crisis management plan.
About the Author: Don Roth is CEO of Sound Systems, which designs and manufactures top-quality portable sound equipment for law enforcement, fire/EMS teams, military use, private security, and many other applications.