Fire Dispatch Drill Reveals Communication Weakness April 24, 2009
The HB RACES Fire Dispatch Drill puts in place a backup communication network that is designed to replace normal fire dispatch communications for Huntington Beach Fire Department should they fail. It is essential to practice this communications plan to both evaluate and refine its capability and reestablish working relationships with fire personnel. Drills are essential for an effective and smooth transition to backup communication methods as well as maintaining confidence in HB RACES capabilities and communication effectiveness. This drill was previously conducted both in 2004 and 2005 and revealed dispatch delays in normal fire dispatch communications. Those delays were eliminated by changes in dispatch procedures and were not observed during the 2009 drill.
The 2009 Fire Dispatch Drill conducted last Sunday showed HB RACES is only as strong as the weakest link in the communication chain. During this drill some of our basic communications training was forgotten by many stations both in the field and at the net control stations. The impact of this failure caused confusion on the primary net, slowed down the relay of dispatch messages to the field and tarnished the fine reputation HB RACES has for effective communications for the city in time of need.
As the Chief Radio Officer of HB RACES I was disappointed by both my personal performance during the drill and management of our group’s effectiveness on the 2 meter net. This net was monitored during the drill by city fire personnel and many of our neighboring RACES organizations. We have much work to do as a group to recover from this recent deficiency. I encourage every RACES communicator to attend our HB RACES May 11th Membership Meeting for a formal debrief on the drill and the beginning of critical supplemental training workshops to immediately address the weaknesses observed.
In preparation for the communication training workshops please listen to several of the audio files embedded in this post for examples of the professional dispatch communications that take place every day in Huntington Beach. The primary goal of our backup dispatch communications network is to duplicate these communications on our 2 meter net. Our future success starts with a good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish. The dispatches and tactical channel radio traffic are perfect examples of how brief and concise messages can be and still convey the right amount of information between individuals. Our supplemental training begins right now with LISTENING.
Pick a Dispatch mp3 file from above and listen.