Ellis Stanley is the Managing Partner of Ellis Stanley Partners and has more than 40 years of experience in emergency management, homeland security, and major event planning. Among his many leadership roles, he has served as Director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency in Atlanta and General Manager of the Emergency Preparedness Department for the City of Los Angeles.
In my forty-five years in emergency management, I’ve learned a thing or two about communication. The technologies have changed over the years. Back then we had two-way radios and walkie-talkies. Now we have cellphones and laptops. The tools we use will keep evolving. But the basic requirements will stay the same. Any communication equipment and network used by first responders has to be reliable. It has to be able to connect the whole team of first responders even during the largest, most complicated events. And it has to take advantage of the latest innovations, so we have the best capabilities at our fingertips.
Reliability is mandatory
For me, reliability means communication capabilities are there when you need them. No matter what. No excuses. On good days and especially on the bad ones. It means you can depend on your wireless network, the same way that you depend on your team. A team member who fails to show up at an incident would quickly be looking for another job. We have to hold our technologies — and our technology partners — to the same standards as our people. Does your wireless carrier have a network that’s there for you when you need it? It should.
Here’s a very personal story about the importance of reliability. I served as an emergency manager at the Olympics and Centennial Games in Atlanta in 1996, when a bomb detonated in Centennial Olympic Park. My youngest son was in the park and my oldest son was nearby. We were deep into responding to the incident but I was really worried about my boys. My phone rang and I heard the words I needed to hear: Daddy, I’m okay. And then it rang again. It was my other son letting me know he was fine.
Anyone with children knows that right at that moment, fast, available communication meant the world to me—as a father and an emergency manager. We were communicating with dozens of first responders and every hospital within a hundred miles of Atlanta. All of our calls were going through. Even the calls from my sons. No delays. No dropped calls. That’s the way wireless communication should work.
Any communication equipment and network used by first responders has to be reliable. It has to be able to connect the whole team of first responders even during the largest, most complicated events. And it has to take advantage of the latest innovations, so we have the best capabilities at our fingertips.”