Be Advised, Storm Mode Operations Are in Effect . . .

071713-glassportLately we’ve heard that phrase quite often from Allegheny County 9-1-1.  The amount of rain that portions of Allegheny County have seen over the last couple weeks has been remarkable, and there is more potentially coming this afternoon.

As emergency responders, we have to do a better job on the communication side of things.  Despite going into storm mode, the radio channels turn into a free for all.

Per Allegheny County’s SOGs for Storm Mode

Fire Departments shall hold all non life threatening requests such as pager/siren

Requests of utility and road crew notifications should be held until the storm subsides at
which time the fire department can call them in or give a list to the TCO. Life
threatening requests will be accepted and forwarded at once.

If you listened to East Fire Ops 2, or East Fire Dispatch over the last few storms while in storm mode, you know the above was not the case.

How many times did we hear the same update from an officer to a responding unit for a non-emergency call?  How many times did we have firefighters calling county for non-important updates?  How many times can you have guys at the station calling an officer asking if they need assistance somewhere?

The fact that just about every person out there has a cell phone, there is no need for the amount of traffic on the radios during these storms, especially if we are in storm mode.  That is the whole point of storm mode, to clear up the air.  For non-emergent incidents, use the cell phone.

The county dispatchers aren’t clear of blame either.  How can you give a list of 5 or so non-emergent incidents over the air during the height of a storm?  Why are some departments and officers told to call the desk, but others are told the addresses over the air?

To be clear, there are life-threatening situations that came up, and I understand the increased radio traffic, but for flooded basements and downed trees, the radio traffic was silly.

Let’s learn from the recent experience, get better at radio communications, get consistent on our radio procedures,  and sound more professional on the radios.  Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to get more practice real soon.


Agree with me? Disagree with me?  Leave a comment and discuss



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