Back in 2013 the ambulance service in the south of England fitted solar panels to the roof of their emergency vehicles. The aim of this exercise was to reduce carbon monoxide output by around 30 tonnes, it was a great idea, and it highlights how modern technology can be a real asset to the emergency services.
Over the years updates in technology have revolutionised the efficiency of emergency response vehicles and this has a direct impact on the effectiveness of their crews. Whether it’s a fire engine, police car, ambulance or breakdown truck, any emergency vehicle relies heavily on modern gadgets and this includes having an efficient means of communication.
Without reliable communication devices, emergency crews are isolated from command centres. They’d have no means of reporting their location, they would be unable to report situation updates; rather worryingly, they’d be left stranded without a means of summoning support.
Crews responding to 999 calls need to be able to contact command centres at all times. With this in mind, this blog explores the subject of devices for vehicles responding to emergency incidents.
Communication back in the early days
We all know we should call 999 if we need assistance from the police, fire or ambulance service but prior to 1937 this number didn’t exist. The 999 service was officially launched on July 1st, 1937 and in the early days emergency messages were transmitted to police cars via Morse Code.
Move forward to 1945 and police vehicles in the UK were equipped with radio transmitters for the first time. They could communicate directly with operators and have contact with dispatchers back at HQ, paving the way for the modern communications we have grown accustomed to today.
Early example of police communications via Morse Code (Image Source: Press Association)
Modern ways to communicate in the present day
Times have changed for emergency crews attending incidents involving the general public. Today there are numerous ways to stay in contact with control centres thanks to advances in technology. No longer are crews on the ground restricted by a lack of contact, they now have different types of technology at their disposal including:
· Two-way radios (fixed or portable)
· Mobile phones
· Mobile data terminals
· Laptops with WiFi connection
Let’s look at some of these options in greater detail.
This has been a popular means of communicating for ground for a number of years. Two-way radios can be fitted inside emergency vehicles or worn as portable devices about the person. Fixed two-way radios operate on set frequencies and specific channels are allocated for emergency use. Portable two-way radios work on the same principle. They’re useful because ground crews take them anywhere but are also less powerful than fixed vehicular systems.
Fixed car phones and mobile devices are other solutions that help emergency personnel stay in contact with control rooms. Since the mobile phone boom in the 1990s crews no longer have to rely on two-way radios as a means of communication, they now have portable and practical devices close to hand, which they can use in an emergency.
Mobile data terminals
Emergency vehicles are also equipped with mobile data terminals which connect directly to central dispatch rooms. They feature screens where information is relayed to ground crews and also have keyboards fitted so personnel can enter data and relay information backwards and forwards.
Portable computers are another solution handily providing ground crews with connectivity on the go. They can be used instead of mobile data terminals and can be docked directly inside the vehicle, ready to work on in remote regions.
Modern emergency vehicles are well equipped with a host of communication devices. As well as various internal communication devices there are also visible and audible means to help communicate the presence of emergency vehicle to the general public which can involve the use of:
- PA systems
- Flashing lights
Emergency vehicles need to stay in contact with control rooms at all times. Here at Stanley R Harris we have a range of products that ensure commercial vehicles are well equipped and ready to cope in different types of circumstances.