May 28, 2009, Alexandria, Va. - The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International today released recommendations for public safety communications personnel as they prepare for the 2009 hurricane season.
"Based on the lessons learned from prior natural disasters, APCO International recommends that communications centers be prepared for inoperable systems, loss of power, and security, personnel and supply needs," APCO International Executive Director George S. Rice, Jr. said. "We have a variety of resources to assist public safety professionals in their preparation."
APCO International recommends that communications centers assess their capabilities of preparedness, survivability and sustainability amidst a wide range of natural and man-made events. APCO International and NENA partnered on a standard PSAP Service Capability Criteria Rating Scale that assists communications centers in identifying their current level of service capability.
APCO International further recommends that all communications centers take the time to review and update their continuity of operations planning (COOP). APCO International's Guidebook for Homeland Security and Preparedness Planning provides a framework for COOP for all emergency communications functions, including resilience of the 9-1-1 infrastructure and operations of public safety answering points.
In addition, communications centers should focus on planning and training to include the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) and planning for system restoration, multi-agency response and evacuation. The APCO Institute offers several related courses including Public Safety Telecommunicator I, Fire Service Communications and The Telecommunicators Role in Homeland Security.
"Aside from the preparations communications centers should make, APCO International urges the public to make all necessary preparations for the hurricane season including creating family evacuation plans and compiling emergency supply kits," Rice said. "We also remind the public to call 9-1-1 for life threatening emergencies only - not for structural damage or power outages."
For additional resources, visit http://www.apcointl.org/new/resources/hurricanes.php.
About APCO International
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to the enhancement of public safety communications. APCO International serves the professional needs of its 15,000 members worldwide by creating a platform for setting professional standards, addressing professional issues and providing education, products and services for people who manage, operate, maintain and supply the communications systems used by police, fire and emergency medical dispatch agencies throughout the world. For more information, visit www.apcointl.org.