Personal Radios

Personal radios (PRs) enable staff to keep in close communication with each other and properly used and maintained they can be a significant help in reducing the risks of workplace violence. However, simply issuing staff with Personal Radios is not going to achieve the objective. Communicating effectively over the Radio Network – especially in an emergency – is a ‘skill’ that requires training in Radio Discipline and Radio Communication (use of the Phonetic Alphabet and Numbers, the 24 hour clock and Pro Words).

Prior to providing that training to the people who are going to be issued with a radio, management first need to develop and establish a range of ‘location specific’ code words/phrases to describe areas (sectors) of the Premises and common types of emergencies. Using code words/phrases helps to simplify and abbreviate radio messages, speeding up information transfer. Besides ‘cloaking’ the meaning of radio transmissions, the use of code words/phrases also helps keep emotive language off the airwaves and avoid embarrassment and/or emotional responses in people overhearing the messages.

PR Users should be aware:

1. Over reliance on the equipment to work in emergency situations can result in staff over committing themselves where they might otherwise have chosen to delay acting until the arrival on scene of sufficient support. (Staff should always ensure that the radio they have been issued with is in good working order and check transmission and reception quality with their Radio Control several times during a tour of duty.)

2. Radio ‘black-spots’ may exist in the workplace where signals cannot be received or transmitted (e.g. basements, lifts). If radio ‘black-spots’ do exist, staff need to be fully aware of them and management must consider whether the situation warrants installation of ‘radio repeaters’ to eliminate the problem.

3. People tend to raise their voices excessively and speak too quickly when transmitting in an emergency. This can affect the clarity of the message. Staff should be acutely aware of the need to speak calmly and coherently in a crisis – and to state their location first!

4. During volatile /noisy encounters it can be difficult to hear messages. Trying too hard to hear what is being said on the radio can impair concentration on the threat present and it can also give the wrong impression to the other person.

5. High volume ‘active’ sounding transmissions can result in increasing tension at the scene – and elsewhere – and attract a crowd of onlookers.

6. Only one person at a time can transmit. (Staff need to know not to keep the transmit button pressed down for longer than a few seconds at a time – so as to facilitate an ‘urgent’ interruption.)

7. Use of radios needs to be disciplined. Indiscriminate use of the transmission facility can lead to it becoming clogged with non essential communication, impairing it’s availability for emergency messages.

8. Hand held radios can appear aggressive to third parties. This is because they can easily be used as a weapon of offence. Staff should be aware of this and try not to wave them about.

9 . Radios are an encumbrance in the event of physical intervention – which would generally require both hands to be free.

10. Determination to hold on to radios if a scuffle starts can leave staff disadvantaged and vulnerable to assaults. Conversely, the ready availability of a personal radio to be used as a weapon may all too easily in a crisis result in a disproportionate use of force which might otherwise have been avoided.

Radio Earpiece and Microphone Kits

In noisy environments, like Night Clubs, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to hear radio transmissions on personal radios. The problem with turning up the radio volume is that loud volume, ‘active sounding’ messages can result in increasing tension at the scene and attract an unwanted crowd of onlookers. The solution is a radio ear piece and microphone kit.

Radios v Mobile Phones?

Using radios has the following advantages over using Mobile Phones:

  • There may be areas of your workplace that mobile phone signals cannot reach whereas, if ‘repeaters’ are installed, radios will work everywhere.
  • Calling someone on a mobile phone involves dialing and waiting for a connection and then an answer. With a two way radio you simply press a button and start talking. In an emergency situation, this speed advantage could be crucial.
  • Radios are generally more robust than mobile phones, which may not work if they are dropped.

What kind of Radio Communication system do you need?

There is now a very, very broad range of radio communication systems available to buy (or hire) and exactly what system you need will depend on what you want to use it for and where. This will also determine whether you are going to need to buy a Business Licence from Ofcom.

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