It’s time for Thanksgiving … so thanks a lot
Actually, things aren’t as bad as the title might suggest. My friend Grumpy (Steve Davidson, Lenexa’s 9-1-1 center manager) has a seasonally appropriate saying: If you don’t get what you want, be thankful that you don’t get what you don’t want either.” Inspired by this chestnut of wisdom, I offer my first MRT Thanksgiving column, wherein appreciation will be extended for the good things we did receive as well as the bad things we didn’t.
First and foremost, we should be thankful for continued good health and the companionship of good friends. Often we take for granted the ability to work at a job we really enjoy, in which we take pride, and with coworkers we can at least tolerate. Along this line should be a special “thanks” to Radioman’s family and personal friends for their (often feigned) understanding but unwavering support. It really is no fun working at night, under adverse conditions (or under a wet car) with an excess of “help” from the public safety customer – but ultimately it is personally rewarding.
We should also be thankful for all the independent shop operators. Without their Yankee ingenuity, bulldog tenacity, opinionated, single-minded attitude and (slimming) profit motive, public safety would surely be struggling to keep its communication systems “private,” its mobile fleet equipped and operating, and its emergency units responding. Note to wireless providers: No we can’t get two-way performance from cellphones. It really isn’t practical to try to set up a linked series of three-way calls while conducting a moving surveillance – only to have someone in the “paperclip chain” get dropped off.
While we’re on the subject, thanks is in order for access to all of the wireless carriers whose cellphones make the routine parts of emergency service delivery smoother. We should probably offer thanks, too, that the utility industry hasn’t embraced deregulation as wildly as telecom did. At least we’re not paying to haul electricity `long distance’ or getting “spammed” on our water bills (yet).
For the public safety communications professional, this really is an exciting time to be alive – if you can stand the stress. We should be thankful for the numerous opportunities to incorporate new technology devices and sophisticated communications services into our systems. Similarly, we should also be thankful for budgets that allow us to hire accountable project managers and performance-bonded project integrators to actually complete the contracted work.
Thanks should be offered up for trade show meetings, consortium gatherings, user groups (including all the “TUGs”) and the Internet, all of which can help public safety professionals avoid those slippery peddlers who always seem to have the solution we need, but at an agency about 2,000 miles away.
Regarding things we don’t want, we should also be thankful that the trade groups, regulators and industry experts haven’t succeeded (yet) in a forced migration of public safety to 700MHz incorporating a proprietary transmission scheme, all in the name of interoperability.
For that matter, we should also be thankful for the “radical” approach by the staid traditionalists at IMSA and the IAFC who believe that interoperability in emergency service is already being accomplished quite well, thank you very much, by incorporating the system of Unified Command and by using a series of conventional, non-networked, radio channels. (Thanks are also in order for the IAFC’s cogent comments to the commission regarding 700MHz interoperability.)
We should also give thanks that public safety hasn’t been locked out of the desirable VHF 138MHz to 144MHz channels assigned to the U.S. Department of Defense. Remember when the fire radio service comprised only 28 high-band channels, including three for mutual aid (now called interoperability)? We should also be thankful that public safety is still exempted from spectrum auction rules – things could be worse.
Finally public safety should be thankful for access to low-priced, high-quality conventional communications equipment. At the current rate of progression, we’ll soon be doing everything with nothing, and then even the boss will be thankful.