Fieldwork is dangerous—especially when working alone or in small teams and remote areas. However, there are often no alternatives for professionals in the utilities, construction, transportation, safety, and security industries. Wires must be repaired, lines must be checked, equipment and materials must be transported, and security posts must be staffed. Risks are part of the job, and variables are everywhere. Classifications of lone workers are wider spread than most of us ever consider. After all, anyone who works isolated from others can be considered a lone worker. This includes those working in fixed positions, such as dispatchers, guards, or even mobile workers, as well as outside reps, project managers, auditors, and traveling nurses. And while many of these jobs typically don’t include hazardous environmental factors associated with heavy equipment, volatile chemicals, or downed wires, they can be still be dangerous in certain circumstances, for example during a medical emergency or when an unexpected heated confrontation with others occurs. Understand the Risks and Responsibilities According to the International Data Corporation’s 2020 stats, frontline workers account for 57% of the total U.S. worker population. And that’s just in the United States. The numbers are much higher globally, hovering between 60%-70%, depending on the source. More surprising, IDC predicts only 49% of frontline workers are currently enabled with a mobile device. Not great numbers, given the rapid migration towards non-traditional workspaces. With these thoughts in mind and the fact that all employers have moral and legal responsibilities to provide for their workforce’s health and safety, it stands to reason organizations should have mechanisms in place to ensure offsite staff have access to emergency alert applications and intuitive communications technology. The same holds for operations centers. Operations coordinators and supervisors must be able to contact or ascertain an employee’s status not just for safety reasons, but also to relay additional information, updates, and reassignments. So what’s the solution? Simply put, hindsight, foresight, awareness, and action. Like most mission critical situations, it’s essential to reflect on past incidents, present circumstances, likely or unlikely possibilities, and tactical and strategic options. So for lone worker environments, the information should be utilized to facilitate changes that can be made to streamline both day-to-day information flow and heighten safety and security. Commit to Practical and Proactive Approaches On the technology side, lone worker safety can be built-in to everyday tools, such as two-way radios, cellular devices, or even wearable personal alarms or cameras. Besides voice communications, technology integrations that include AVL components, geofencing, or sensor-based alarms can automatically detect changes in patterns or positions and relay that information back to central operations staff and management in real time. Other options consist of interfaces that allow field and in-house personnel to connect or send text and voice alerts through mobile applications on company or personal devices. Likewise, if your organization is looking for a simplistic and discreet solution, one-touch pendant alarms, smart ID badges, and wristbands can be easily customized and configured to align with other workforce management solutions. Along with smart technology, awareness and engagement are your best means of preparation and defense. Although most organizations ensure their employee safety and security programs comply with government and industry regulations, enthusiastic and consistent attention to maintaining current best practices is key. Rather than viewing safety talks and annual trainings as check the box events, it’s imperative management and personnel collectively engage in constructive discussions, lively tabletop exercises, and realistic and reflective scenario-based drills. Without a doubt, positioning safety as a part of your everyday company culture can have a profound and powerful effect on your organization, your mission, and the customers and communities you serve. Right now is a great time to assess your organization’s commitment and approaches to prioritizing lone worker safety. And while you’re at it, why not share your thoughts, stories, or suggestions that may help others protect their lone workers as well. Your experiences and lessons learned could help protect and even save lives of others that are often on their own at work. Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!
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Will Land Mobile Radio (LMR) ever go away? Will cellular Push-To-Talk (PTT) solutions, such as 3GPP Mission Critical PTT (MCPTT), replace LMR? Opinions vary, but one thing is certain, the LMR technology known as Project 25 (P25) is the standard against which public safety users in North America compare all alternative solutions. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the global cellular standards body, has used today’s LMR capabilities as the baseline requirements for its own MCPTT standards. In keeping with the 2012 Spectrum Act legislation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conveyed the USA’s requirements to 3GPP, which were well documented in a series of reports from the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC). In developing these reports, NPSTC heavily relied on the capabilities of P25. Whether today’s P25 users anticipate an eventual end to their LMR systems or not, many are planning or have begun augmenting their P25 systems with MCPTT because it’s now offered by multiple carriers in North America. To do so, it’s helpful to understand the key differences between P25 and MCPTT capabilities, which are outlined below. The capabilities referenced are those enabled by P25 standards developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and MCPTT open standards as developed by 3GPP. The comparison is extremely useful if you plan to offload non-critical users from a P25 system to MCPTT, as you’ll want to know whether the features LMR users have been accustomed to will be supported on MCPTT. And if you have plans to interwork your P25 and MCPTT solutions for LMR/LTE interoperability, only capabilities that exist on both networks will be able to make that traversal. High Level Comparison Table 1: High Level Comparison Aspect TIA 102 P25 3GPP MCX NOTES Number of Groups supported Up to 65,534 Virtually unlimited Number of Users supported Up to 9,999,998 Virtually unlimited Number of Users per Group supported Up to 9,999,998 No technical limit. But the practical limit may be a few hundred on unicast networks (no limit on multicast eMBMS networks) Few multicast MCPTT networks currently exist Voice Calls Yes (AMBE+2 narrowband vocoder) Yes “MCPTT” (AMR-WB wideband vocoder with other vocoder options) MCPTT’s AMR-WB vocoder has noticeably better fidelity compared to P25 Simultaneous Media Streams One voice stream per SU/radio Multiple streams per UE/device MCPTT enables monitoring multiple groups at the same time Data Yes – Narrowband, Slow Speed (9600 bps) Yes – “MCDATA”. Broadband, High Speed Used for text/SDS, location, file transfer and mobile CAD Video Calls No Yes – “MCVIDEO” (Private & Group) Priority & Preemption Yes (trunking only) Yes Emergency Levels 2 (Normal, Emergency) 3 (Normal, Imminent Peril, and Emergency) Dynamic Prioritization No Yes Authorized users can remotely change the priority of designated MCPTT users/groups Power Levels Portables – typically 5 watts+ Mobiles – typically 50 watts+ User equipment (UE)/handsets – typically 0.2 watts High Power UE (HPUE) – up to 1.25 watts 3GPP Band 14 HPUE are now available, but generally not as handheld devices Off Network Communications Yes – “Direct Mode/Talk Around” (FDMA conventional) Yes – “ProSe” (Proximity Services – limited range due to low power level) 3GPP ProSe is not yet generally available Encryption Yes (optional) Yes Over the Air Programming (OTAP) Yes (optional) Yes Over the Air Rekeying (OTAR) Yes (optional) Yes Detailed Comparison Table 2 below provides a more detailed comparison, including standard P25 capabilities and whether they translate to 3GPP MCPTT capabilities. The feature name used in this table is the common name for the P25 feature used in the TIA standards documents (specific P25 vendors may have different names for them). Where a different name for the equivalent feature is used for MCPTT, it is shown in quotation marks in the MCPTT column. Table 2: Detailed Comparison Project 25 Feature Name TIA 102 P25 3GPP MCPTT Talker ID (aka PTT ID) Yes – numeric with optional text alias Yes – textual with optional supplemental info Groups Calls Yes – Confirmed or Unconfirmed Calls Yes – Chat or Pre-arranged, Pre-established or On-demand Emergency Group & Individual Calls Yes Yes3 Emergency Alert (w/o voice) Yes Yes Emergency Cancel Yes Yes Individual Calls (aka, Unit-to-Unit Call) Yes – half or full duplex, with or without Availability Check Yes3 – “Private Call” (with or without Floor Control, Auto or Manual commencement, Pre-established or On-demand5) Discrete Listening (aka, Private Call Eavesdropping) Yes No Group Regrouping Yes (not yet available over ISSI/CSSI) Yes User Regrouping Yes Yes Radio Unit Monitor (RUM) Yes (timed only) Yes – “Ambient Listening” (On/Off, monitored audio may be sent as Private or Group) Call Alert Yes Yes – “Private Call Back Request” Dispatcher Override & Preemption Yes Yes Priority Yes (trunking only) Yes Preemption Yes (trunking only) Yes Announcement Group Call (to multiple groups) Yes Yes – “Broadcast Group Call” Broadcast Call (one way) Yes (trunking only) Yes – “Group Broadcast Call” System Call (aka, All Call) Yes Yes3 – “User Broadcast Group Call” Radio Inhibit (aka, Radio Disable) Yes Yes – “Remote Device Disable” Radio Un-inhibit (aka, Radio Enable) Yes Yes – “Remote Device Re-Enable” Radio Check Yes Yes “Presence” Text Messaging to Individuals Yes Yes – “Short Data Service – SDS” Location Conveyance from Field Radios to the Network Yes Yes Capabilities Unique to MCPTT Although P25 does have some advantages over MCPTT (e.g., off network operation and subscriber unit power levels), 3GPP MCPTT has a number of capabilities not found in open standard P25 systems, such as those shown in Table 3below. Table 3: Unique MCPTT Capabilities 3GPP MCX Feature Name Feature Description Imminent Peril Group Call A group call with priority between normal and emergency (chat type only4). First-To-Answer Private Call Invitation A private call invitation sent to a group of users. The first to answer enters into a 1-to-1 private call with the initiator. Adhoc Group Creation The ability for authorized users (typically dispatchers) to dynamically create a new group (3GPP may be rescinding this capability for security reasons). User Group Query The ability to remotely discover the group affiliation of a specific user. Remote User Group Invitation/ Assignment (aka, “REGA”) The ability for authorized users (typically dispatchers) to remotely invite or assign a user to affiliate with a specific group. Priority Dynamic Uplift/Downgrade The ability for an authorized user (typically a dispatcher) to dynamically change the priority of an individual user or group. Remote User/UE Call Initiation/Termination The ability for an authorized user (typically a dispatcher) to remotely initiate or terminate a private or group call of another user/group. Broadcast Group Calls (two way) A two-way broadcast group call. This may be with pre-established or on-demand establishment5. SDS Text Messaging to Groups Sending text messages to a group (including broadcasts to multiple groups). SDS Text Message Delivery Confirmation Confirmation that a private text message has been delivered to the destination device. SDS Text Message Read Notification Confirmation that a private text message has been read by the targeted user. MCData File Distribution The ability to attach files (e.g., audio clips, video clips, location coordinates) to private and group text messages, with or without mandatory download. Location Conveyed with Voice/Text Media The ability to convey the originator’s location along with the originator’s media (voice/text/video). Location Conveyance from/to Field Radios The ability to convey the originator’s location to other users, including dispatch consoles. What Capabilities Can Your Providers Support? Note that few manufacturers implement all the capabilities supported by the standards. In addition, few system owners (including cellular network operators) enable all the capabilities offered by the manufacturers. Some manufacturers choose to achieve comparable capabilities, using non-standard, proprietary methods, while others choose to implement capabilities not supported by the standards (which of course are also proprietary). Therefore this capability survey may not reflect what is actually supported by your P25 LMR system or your MCPTT cellular provider. But at the very least, the comparison can serve as a starting point for discussion with your LMR and MCPTT suppliers to see what they can actually support, and when they will be able to support it. Footnotes 1For a definition of the P25 features see the DHS Statement of Project 25 User Needs (SPUN): http://www.project25.org/images/stories/ptig/10-06-2020_P25-SPUN_FINAL-r1_508c.pdf 2P25 Group Call Confirmation: Confirmed vs Unconfirmed: A confirmed call or data transfer attempts to secure RFSSs, sites, and users before starting the transmission. An unconfirmed call or data transfer makes no particular effort to guarantee the participation of particular RFSSs, sites, or users. 3These MCPTT capabilities are also available in 3GPP ProSe (off-network mode). 4 MCPTT Group Call Type – Pre-arranged vs Chat: Group Call types can either be pre-arranged or chat. When a pre-arranged Group Call is initiated by one of the group members, all other preconfigured/affiliated group members are automatically invited to the call. Designated users in the group can enter or exit the call for the duration of the group call. When a Chat Group Call is initiated, all group members are not automatically invited to the call. To participate in a Chat Group Call, a group member has to explicitly join the
Did you know most active-duty firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers? In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that 87% of the 106,390,000 firefighters registered with the organization are volunteers. Similarly, the USFA asserts 86% of the nation’s fire departments either fully or partially depend on members who donate their time and expertise to helping others survive fires and other emergencies. What this means is volunteer fire service is vital to society. These departments and their members provide our communities assistance during emergencies and disasters. They come to our aid during times of distress, engage us during outreach events, and encourage even our youngest students to stay proactive and prepared during times of crisis. However, running a volunteer fire department is far from nonstop action and exhilaration. Those in charge must abide by countless and ever-changing regulatory standards involving both the department’s business and operational processes. Further still, keeping up with rising equipment costs, local challenges, and member and community needs can strangle a volunteer fire department’s finances and stifle its growth potential. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at two of the largest obstacles facing today’s volunteer fire organizations. Dismal Recruiting and Retention Rates Enlisting and keeping members active is, without a doubt, the most pressing problem. The number of volunteers who are actively being recruited into the fire service is far smaller than the amount leaving or aging out. One probable cause could be a societal shift in work/life priorities. Because of the health and safety aspects associated with firefighting, membership requirements can be daunting. Besides meetings, drills, fundraisers, and training sessions, members must also respond to actual emergencies. Likewise, considering the NFPA’s 2018 findings that 50% of all firefighters are between 30-49 years old, it’s easy to see how many would-be volunteers do not have the time or capacity to devote to these activities in addition to their family life and work schedule. Furthermore, firefighting is a dangerous business. There are those who are hesitant to take the chance that an injury or worse will prevent them from caring for or supporting their loved ones. Member retention is another problem. Although there are countless reasons members choose to resign, these occurrences are often predictable and preventable. However, some organizations consciously decide to wait until people leave before attempting to analyze and address what went wrong and, more importantly, how to fix it. Despite the industry resources available, many volunteer fire departments employ retention practices that revolve around reactionary discussions rather than preemptive solutions. In truth, if department leaders wish to engage both current and prospective members, they must be willing to apply the principles of situational awareness and strategic foresight to the internal issues inside their organizations. Disappearing Budgets and Funding Opportunities Operating a volunteer fire department is expensive. Like most industries, every year, the cost of doing business goes up while operating budgets tend to fall or hover at the previous year’s rates. For this reason, balancing industry and economic changes without compromising safety or effectiveness can be next to impossible. Similarly, because of blurry organizational structures and municipal constraints, volunteer fire departments can be at a direct disadvantage when attempting to secure the mission critical equipment and administrative support programs necessary to stay effective and efficient. For example, even though upgraded or innovative fire station alerting technology can promote better overall safety and performance, these solutions tend to carry high price tags or expensive add on plans. And although most vendors are willing to work with departments for a customized fit, this subsequent blending of old and new technology can create even bigger issues with regards to maintenance and installation costs if not properly planned and orchestrated. Moreover, while a plethora of external funding and grant programs exist, bureaucratic roadblocks, contradictory use clauses, and numerous process inefficiencies at all levels often leave departments with the greatest need struggling for support. Worse still, because of the varying standards and ambiguous stipulations usually attached to these programs, department officials may have a tough time navigating the grant process successfully or achieving any real results without incurring additional costs for specialized guidance or assistance. Looking Ahead The dual challenges posed by changing societal norms and shifting fiscal priorities mean volunteer fire organizations must maintain awareness over where their agency is, where it’s going and what it needs to get there. Although volunteer fire agencies may function as mission-driven organizations, they must also employ business management processes to assess their organizations’ future. For this reason, fact-based operational insight and strategic thinking will play vital roles in steering and stabilizing the trajectory of our nation’s volunteer fire departments throughout the next decade. By: John Martyn Want to know about new posts? 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Tech Talk Vlog: Part 2 – Integrating Mission Critical Push-to-Talk with Emergency Communications Centers
Answers to six more questions about MCPTT integration with ECCs In part 2 of Zetron’s video Tech Talk mini- series, we provide answers to six more questions on integrating Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) with Emergency Communications Centers; delivered by MCPTT subject matter expert, Randy Richmond. So, if you enjoyed part one, or are curious about the technical aspects of MCPTT and ECC integration, costs associated with integration, or when you can start integrating MCPTT with your ECC, view the full vlog where you’ll learn more about: 1. Which MCPTT interfaces can I use to integrate my ECC? 2. What about IP backhaul to my carrier? 3. Are there solutions if I need to connect to multiple carriers? 4. What are the costs for integration? 5. When can I start integrating MCPTT with my ECC? 6. Where can I learn more about MCPTT integration issues? Enjoy the second part of our mini vlog series and check out part one if you haven’t yet for more answers to important questions around MCPTT integration with ECCs. By: Randy Richmond Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!
The Emergency Communications Center Landscape Has Changed In my last post, “5 Ways COVID-19 is Reshaping Emergency Communications Centers,” I introduced a new Zetron white paper outlining some of the major operational shifts we’re seeing in the wake of a global pandemic that’s gone on longer and has had deeper and wider impacts than any of us could’ve ever imagined when it began. While there have certainly been others, the white paper focuses on five specific changes, each having substantial short and long term logistical and operational impacts to the public safety professionals working in ECCs: • More Enduring Remote Working Requirements • Renewed Calls for Alternative Funding • Increasing Demand for Partnerships • Shifting Role Focus Towards Mission Intelligence • Heightened Emphasis on Health and Safety In this post I’ll focus particularly on the need for easier and more enduring remote working capabilities, and touch briefly on how Zetron has responded to the new demand. The Need is Neither New or Fleeting For many of those who are responsible for making sure every emergency call is handled and appropriate services are dispatched as needed, no matter what personal, public health, political or civic/social unrest may be occurring, the need to work at times from outside the main center is not necessarily a new development. Many agencies regularly light up positions from back-up centers or even other public facilities on a temporary, emergency or ad hoc basis for a variety of reasons, such as when system/equipment upgrades are needed at the main center, facility transitions or moves occur, emergencies impact the main center’s availability or capabilities, and more. So while the need to “go remote” isn’t new, the parameters of scale, scope, and terms for remote working requirements have inarguably been redefined in the wake of COVID-19. And given what we know now, there’s ample reason to believe that many of these new requirements will remain in place long after COVID-19 is eradicated. New Reasons and Urgency Over the past year we’ve talked to countless customers in ECCs, transportation, utilities, and other critical communications centers who’ve had to adapt to the “new normals” that are directly or indirectly contributing to team members needing to more prominently and/or permanently work from remote locations. And by remote, I mean way more “remote” and dispersed than simply being temporarily set up in a back-up center. While they each seem fairly obvious on their own, collectively the factors prompting new work time and location flexibilities for communications centers have compounded the need. Physical Distancing A term previously used liberally only by those that are uber-protective of their personal space, may now very well be one of the most frequently uttered phrases on earth. Eliminating crowds in restaurants, ball parks, shopping centers, etc., happened quickly. But taking steps to similarly vacate emergency communications centers, where working spaces are often small and cramped with people pulling long shifts and in much closer proximity than six feet from their peers, obviously presented far different challenges. Quarantining Pick a reason. Not feeling well, exposed to someone not feeling well, traveled to someplace with lots of people not feeling well, or even a positive test in the household…directed- or self-quarantining is yet another new reality. Think people were sensitive about “stay home if you’re sick” policies in 2019? We hadn’t seen anything yet. But while a quarantine means temporarily not working in the center, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t capable of working for the center. In fact, most who aren’t actually sick are still more than able and need or want to work during quarantine. It simply can’t be while sitting next to their peers. Dependent Care Oh yeah, what if a child needs to quarantine, or attend school remotely? Talk about new realities. Covering dependent care during shifts by way of sick days or paid child care isn’t always an option, especially for extended stints. But while parents or caregivers may need to be home “in proximity” to keep things on the rails, they’re often perfectly capable of marrying that typically intermittent responsibility with also having a productive work shift, as long as they have access to the means (i.e., connections, equipment, systems, etc.) to do so from home. Absence/On Call Management Perhaps the most obvious factor is that many people have gotten sick of course, leaving them temporarily unable to work from any location, even if they wanted to. This has taxed and stretched many teams to exhausting new limits for managing overtime, extra shifts, and ability to make personnel more “on call” ready. All of which have put additional strain on the conventional centralized workplace model. New Sanitation Standards Maintaining back-to-back shifts in shared workstations has been an established practice in ECCs, but new cleaning and disinfecting standards add time, costs and headaches in order to keep people safe. This is especially true in shared work environments and creates yet another motivation for seeking unconventional full and/or part time remote working scenarios. Remote Work Within REACH Ok, we get it, the need to enable remote work in ECCs, while not entirely new, has certainly reached new highs in terms of rationale and urgency. And it’s not likely to fade in parallel to the degree we all hope to see COVID-19 dissipate. That’s why at Zetron, we were quick to identify the trends and subsequent need for critical communications centers (including ECCs) to adopt more malleable and enduring approaches to remote working during the pandemic. Enter REACH Solutions REACH is a bit unique to typical Zetron new solution introductions, simply because it’s not actually a “product” in our traditional sense. Rather, REACH is a technical solution that enables our existing Call Taking and Dispatch solutions to more easily be applied in remote working models. It’s intended to break down many of the legacy technical and logistical barriers and headaches to letting team members quickly and easily pack up and take home a workstation that’s fully operational and connected to the same systems being used for managing calls and dispatch in the center. If you’d like more detailed information about our REACH Solutions for call taking and dispatch, I encourage you to download the information sheet or visit the product page. By: Jim Shulkin Subscribe today to receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-Wire blog!
Choosing to become a first responder may feel like the easiest decision you’ve ever made. Especially if you want a rewarding career that enables you to help others, forge lifelong bonds, and never stop learning. But committing to a life of service also means accepting there will indelibly be professional setbacks and personal challenges along the way. In addition to conceding that copious amounts of financial fortune and fame are highly unlikely outcomes of your pursuits, you also have to know you’re signing up for a roller coaster of constant twists, turns, dips, and drops that will require more courage than you ever thought possible, rather than the romanticized heroics and perpetual gratitude you see on the television dramatizations of the profession. It’s more a relentless and unending test of fortitude and perseverance through countless rough patches to remain strong enough to make it out on the other side, recharged, and ready to go back for more. Ask anyone whose chosen this path. It’s a long ways removed from full time rainbows and lollipops, but then again, it’s not all doom and gloom either. Most days, for people that choose the path, the rewards do actually outweigh the challenges. But sometimes they don’t. Even so, most agree that regardless of what’s thrown at them, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Because when all is said and done, there is still no better feeling in the world than closing your eyes at night, knowing your actions – even if in just a small way – made a real difference in someone’s life…maybe even saving it. So with that, let’s dedicate this post to recognizing the real-world struggles first responders face both on and off duty. Here’s a high level rundown of the good, the bad, and the gray areas in between. First things first, let’s take on the three biggest challenges Physical Risks Like many service professionals, first responders gamble their own health and safety to perform their jobs. While risk levels vary depending on the role, the number of injuries and physical ailments this community faces are staggering. While firefighters and police officers clearly encounter the highest physical risks, emergency medical providers, and 911 professionals confront equally challenging and unique obstacles that impact their physical health and safety. Although emergency workers are highly trained and proficient in their skills, accidents and oversights can and do happen. From strains and sprains to a heightened risk of heart problems and disease, emergency workers must work daily to overcome obstacles that threaten their lives and futures. Because of this, these groups must remain vigilant in keeping up with annual check-ups, fitness routines, and wellness regimens. Social Struggles Yes, nearly all jobs are stressful to some degree, but emergency services is inarguably unique to most. Carrying the weight of thought isolation, missed social connections, and lost time with family, along with the psychological demands of the job, can crush even the strongest souls. Even worse, there’s no doubt this career can be tough on personal relationships. Besides having to justify frequent absences, it’s often difficult for responders to explain to family and friends why they seem restless, lack patience, or appear distant, disinterested, or disengaged from everyday events. That’s why emergency responders need to surround themselves with people who genuinely care and support them – both on and off the job. While those on the outside may never completely understand or be able to fully relate to the struggles, anyone with close connections should be willing to accept and embrace the inherent and sometimes extreme ups and downs. Psychological Tolls Aside from maintaining a constant level of high alert, first responders must be able to think outside the box and switch gears within a moment’s notice. And all while operating on tight timelines and sticking to a strict set of rules and procedures. Making the best decision with the information they have and not allowing second thoughts to hinder the speed and effectiveness of action can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Especially when you stop to consider the outcome can mean the difference between happiness or despair, pain or relief, even life or death. Even worse, there are obviously limits to what responders can actually control, with the universe of factors they can’t being much larger. Understanding the difference between acceptance and guilt is a difficult skill to master, no matter how many years you’ve been in the game. Moving on, let’s spotlight some of the benefits that make being a first responder a worthwhile and rewarding career. Self Fulfillment Personal pride and the sense of accomplishment from helping others is in itself the ultimate reward. Knowing they were there to support someone during what might be the worst moment in their life can have a powerful effect on a first responder’s sense of self-worth. While not every alarm is an emergency, and not every call will end successfully, every shift represents a unique opportunity for growth and a chance to make a real difference. Similarly, first responders report personal satisfaction in the sense of having the knowledge and know-how to remain calm, successfully communicate, and lead others through difficult situations. While not all first responders will be experts in every scenario, these fundamental skills will often be celebrated and appreciated in all aspects of life. Countless Opportunities Lifelong friendships and professional networking opportunities are some of the priceless perks afforded to first responders. Aside from forging close and enduring bonds with crew members who more closely resemble family, first responders benefit from working with a diverse group of people, each with varying ideas, skillsets, and problem-solving approaches. Because of these connections, first responders are often more capable of seeing outside their own experiences and empathizing with others. Even further, first responders can serve as a vital link between community members and emergency service officials during a crisis or disaster. Likewise, access to the latest trainings and industry conferences also leaves room for constant growth. Besides being necessary to retain certification, these informative and enriching activities represent regular opportunities to socialize with and learn from well-respected peers and mentors. Job Stability Forging friendships and being proud of what you do are intrinsically important, but these purpose-driven rewards don’t actually pay the bills or alleviate retirement concerns. That said, there are few careers outside public service that offer the same iron-clad benefit packages and employment assurances as those provided to emergency responders. No, the annual wages generally aren’t overly generous, and the overtime hours can be grueling, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For starters, first responders’ health and dental insurance benefits are often top notch. Equally important, working for a public service agency usually means having access to a multitude of investment, educational, and retirement options. But perhaps the most attractive aspect comes from longstanding job stability. Aside from the fact that as long as emergencies exist, first responders will always be necessary, there are typically protections in place to deter mass layoffs and baseless terminations. We’ve all heard the expression that government is “recession-proof,” which although naively simplified, does point to the stability difference, relative to many roles of their commercial counterparts. Further still, if emergency responders choose to switch careers, the transferrable skills they’ve acquired through their day-to-day interactions will be both valued and respected in virtually every workplace or industry. To sum it up, like most jobs, responders must weigh the good with the bad and find a balance they can live with. While the drawbacks may seem overwhelming at times, there are countless advantages to being a first responder. In the end, it’s all a matter of priorities, perspective, and make-up. Have other thoughts about the challenges and rewards of being a public safety pro? We’d love to hear them. Tell us what you think! Comments are always invited on Z-Wire. Or click here if you’re interested in submitting a guest blog post of your own. Subscribe today to receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-Wire blog!
Setting the Stage Imagine working in critical communications back when telephone analyzers, miniature tape recorders, and metal detectors were considered cutting edge technology. No smartphones, no digital maps, no video surveillance, just in-the-moment awareness and basic message sent/received capabilities. Given how much communications technology has advanced, it feels like I could be describing the way things were a century ago, doesn’t it? But in fact, that was the marketplace when Milt Zeutschel and John Reece entered it back in 1980 when they leased a small office space in between a hair salon and Christian Reading Room in a quiet Seattle suburb strip mall. While their initial charter was relatively humble – to provide better paging systems than what was currently available to volunteer fire departments so they could communicate more effectively – their ambitions were spectacular. They called their new venture Zetron. Fast forward forty years and the mission critical communications landscape has transformed into a truly innovative global industry, and that small regional business next to the hair salon now maintains a robust portfolio of leading communications solutions that serve mission critical operations in more than 100 countries around the world. And yet, in the three decades I’ve been privileged to be a part of the Zetron team, I can confidently say the core mission, vision and values of Zetron have remained literally unchanged. As true today as it was in 1980, Zetron’s primary and unwavering mission is to serve and support organizations and individuals in public safety, transportation, utilities, and other markets where efficient communications are not only important, but are truly the lifeblood of successful mission critical operations. And we do that by putting uncompromising quality, reliability and customer service in and around the communications solutions and services we provide. It was our focus from day one, and will continue to be our one and only job going forward. A Look Back It’s intriguing to revisit all the communications industry has accomplished in the past 40 years. We’ve witnessed the successful fusion of technology and human intelligence, with numerous pioneering solutions and services along the way. While Zetron’s beginnings in volunteer fire department paging systems may seem simple now, it set the stage for what would become an enduring legacy of innovation. Six years into business, Zetron debuted the industry’s first user-programmable microprocessor-based radio dispatch console. Then, in 1996, we began manufacturing both call taking and radio dispatch solutions – a first in the public safety realm. Since then, we’ve continued to push the boundaries and set higher standards, expanding global offerings, earning ISO certification, and developing integrations and solutions to current and emerging standards, such as P25 and FirstNet. And that really just scratches the surface. Although Zetron has obviously grown, we’ve worked hard to maintain our family business feel because I believe it helps keep us grounded and centered on our purpose. Regardless of where in the world our people call home, our collective mission remains constant – to serve the devoted, courageous, and too often thankless communications organizations and professionals who make it their mission to put the safety and welfare of the communities they serve first. In fact, that’s what I love most about our company culture still today. We listen more than we talk. We meet our customers where they are. And we forge lasting, often multi-decade relationships based on ethics, understanding, and mutual benefit, versus transactions or sales targets. The Heart of Our Success In an era where most businesses don’t last four years, much less 40, the key to our longevity is quite simple actually. It’s based on the sincere understanding that our success is in fact tethered to the long term viability and success of our customers, partners, and employees. When you treat each with the same honesty, respect and loyalty you would your family, it fosters long term trust and relationships, which are of course the most important assets any business can possess, be it 1980 or 2021. We’re fortunate to maintain as many multi-generational customer, partner, and employee relationships as we do, especially in an era when alternatives are plenty and retention tends to be measured more in months than decades. Together we’ve evolved. Through collaboration and shared visions for the future we’ve accomplished extraordinary triumphs and milestones, while overcoming major challenges and setbacks. And despite the challenging times the world faces today, tomorrow will be brighter as a result of our collective commitment to staying true to our values, pressing forward, and understanding that together, we can accomplish or endure anything. The Next Forty Years As we look forward, we are committed to leveraging the incredible momentum we have as a company, community, and family, to reach new heights. It won’t take nearly forty more years until we’re able to say, “Doesn’t 2020 seem like it could’ve been a century ago?” Through our mutually beneficial relationships and community rooted values, we look forward to enhancing our offerings, expanding our worldwide presence, and setting the bar even higher for mission critical communications technology and services everywhere. On behalf of all of us at Zetron, thank you to all who have been a part of our durability and success over the years. You’ve inspired us and impacted our lives here at home and around the globe. We are grateful and humbled at the opportunity to work with such amazing people every single day. And as we move forward into 2021 and beyond, we pledge to continue serving you with respect, devotion, and integrity, just as Milt and John originally envisioned 40 years ago. We are Zetron. #Zetron40 By: Brent Dippie We’d also like to thank the Puget Sound Business Journal for the recent interview and article acknowledging this major milestone. If you’re interested, you can read the interview here. Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!
That’s Sooo 2020! Without question, 2020 was a year of changes in the world that would’ve been utterly unimaginable prior to it. As with most crises, Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) have been on the front lines of this pandemic from day one. The result – major adjustments in priorities happened almost overnight, back-up plans have now become, well, just “the plan,” and new awkward uncertainties surround even our most basic interactions with others. Make no mistake, history has been written, ensuring anything described as being, “so 2020,” going forward will not be intended as flattery. The Changing Landscape of ECCs COVID-19 has inarguably brought tremendous new challenges and changes to operations of ECCs, thereby the daily work and lives of the teams that make them go. By now it’s hard to fathom many of those changes not living on long after this pandemic. However, through adversity comes learning. And while there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel, relative to COVID-19 specifically, we’ve had to learn through this real life worst case scenario as it developed right in front of us. We saw firsthand how a modern day worldwide public health crisis can stretch our operational capacities and norms to new thresholds, and in some cases, past their breaking points. A required output of COVID-19 must be new insight and action plans for dealing with the next crisis, as vaccines will obviously not provide an enduring panacea, impenetrable to whatever the next worldwide or local emergency may bring. 5 Key Changes and Counting In a newly published white paper, 5 Ways COVID-19 is Reshaping Emergency Communications Centers, we outline key changes that have taken, and continue to take place directly as a result of the pandemic. While the list is obviously not exhaustive and will continue to evolve, it entails a handful of significant and unquestionably key trends that in aggregate, demonstrates the fluidity, resilience, and dire needs of our critical front line teams and functions. The white paper provides detailed information and references to resources on the following ways the pandemic is changing the ECC landscape, as well a brief look at what’s ahead: • Rising Need for Remote Capabilities • Renewed Calls for Alternative Funding • Increasing Demand for Partnerships • Shifting Focus Towards Intelligence • Heightened Emphasis on Health and Safety We invite you to download a free copy of the white paper today for more in-depth information on what’s changing, and/or post your comments on if you agree, disagree, or other notable changes you’re seeing occur as well. By: Jim Shulkin Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!
Comms Connect Melbourne is perennially Australia’s go-to source for thought leadership on mission critical communications, providing an opportunity to meet and hear from hundreds of like-minded radio and communications users and industry professionals annually. This year’s event, as so many others have, went virtual as a result of the global pandemic. In addition to serving as a panelist during this year’s virtual event, Zetron’s Randy Richmond also delivered a video presentation, titled “Answering 5 Important Questions About integrating Mission Critical PTT with Control Rooms,” as part of the conference track on Private LTE – ensuring there is coverage, capacity and control for the private LTE network of the future. Randy’s presentation explains how the new global Mission Critical LTE standards are no longer the future, but rather the here and now. Ready to be deployed for voice, video and data applications to aid critical infrastructure users, including those in public safety, utilities, transportation, and other markets. View the on demand presentation to learn more about how critical infrastructure control rooms integrate with LTE networks (private, commercial or national) and are making use of Mission Critical LTE Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) in the broadband migration from narrowband Land Mobile Radio (LMR). To watch the on-demand video, click here. For more information, please feel free to connect with our Zetron Asia Pacific Headquarters at email@example.com. By: Kimberly Kapustein Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!
Thanks to advances in technology, organizations which depend on critical communications have greater access to data and communications in more places than ever before, and leading technology companies like Tait and Zetron are taking advantage of this by joining forces to deliver unified critical communications solutions. Take Your Dispatch Console Wherever You Go Historically, dispatch consoles were restricted to Public Safety and Utility dispatch centers, but technology partners Tait and Zetron are changing that through their mutual commitment to a broad range of technologies and open standards-based radio interfaces. This collaboration has resulted in a unique solution that combines the mobile radio and broadband connectivity of Tait Unified Vehicle with the Zetron ACOM Command & Control dispatch solution’s remote operation capabilities. By integrating these solutions, Tait and Zetron are making it easier for organizations to quickly set up consoles in different locations whenever necessary. Combining Tait Unified Vehicle and Zetron ACOM The Zetron ACOM dispatch solution allows users to deploy a laptop or tablet with just a USB headset to set up remote, temporary, back-up, mobile and training positions quickly and securely. Unlike other console solutions that are limited to just a few channels, ACOM has no channel limit, providing you with a mobile console system with full capabilities. To operate ACOM, you need internet access, and the broadband connectivity required is provided by Tait Unified Vehicle with a powerful antenna that can transmit and receive high speed data. To allow a tablet or laptop with the ACOM software access to these networks, Tait Unified Vehicle creates a mobile Wi-Fi network, giving you the ability to connect your devices to the internet. Tait Unified Vehicle also provides LMR connectivity so dispatchers can communicate through the radio network, or through broadband Push-To-Talk services. This means that if for any reason LTE service is lost, you still have the reliable coverage from analog, P25 or DMR networks as a back up. Three Use Cases During large-scale emergency events, remote stations might need to be set up to get first responders closer to the scene. Similarly, it enables Utilities crews that respond to events such as hurricanes to set up a console to help keep everyone connected. Another potential use case takes place in the actual control room. Suppose you lose internet connectivity from your normal provider – the console could then stay connected through a Tait Unified Vehicle unit providing LTE connectivity. Most organizations have multiple mobile radios in their control room, so converting those radios to Tait Unified Vehicle units offers an extra layer of protection and back-up connectivity. Lastly, suppose a manager or field worker needs to access the ACOM console for any reason. Instead of driving to the control room, they can simply access it through their tablet or laptop whenever and wherever they are with Tait Unified Vehicle providing the broadband connectivity for internet access. By: Tait Communications Originally posted on the Tait Blog Want to know about new posts? Subscribe today and receive periodic alerts on what’s new on the Zetron Z-wire blog!