Last time, we covered a number of general planning tips in preparation for disasters. When the disaster strikes is not the time to develop a plan. First on our list of suggestions is hardening your studio site. Should the studio site fail, do you have an off-site backup facility?
If not, think remote truck! Should you lose your studio facility, a remote truck can be pressed into service to keep you on the air. Prior to predictable weather emergencies, keep the truck fluids topped off.
Make sure the truck is stocked with emergency supplies – a large fishing tackle box can hold things like extension cords, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, and basic tools. Remember, you may not be able to get into the studio building and your workshop.
A copy of that emergency contact list that you prepared should also be kept in the remote truck. This would include detailed directions to the transmitter site. A number of stations already have a doomsday hard drive system at the transmitter, just in case the studio site is lost. As you develop your emergency plan, compile a list of studio items that will be needed.
Go Mobile: By Truck or By Phone
No mobile truck? Equip your stations’ mobile phones with a broadcast app like Telos’ Lucy Live Lite. When paired with a Z/IP One Codec, this application turns any Smartphone® into a high quality broadcast codec to get audio from the field to the transmitter. Watch this video to see how easy this can be implemented.
Many stations work out joint studio sharing plans with their neighbors, usually implementing an ISDN circuit that can feed programming from an alternate studio to the transmitter site. A written agreement is usually best. While we’re on the topic of programming, it’s important to make sure that your EAS alerts can be received and rebroadcast from the alternate studio.
Backup power for all facilities is a must in an emergency – but make sure you have adequate fuel and service resources. During a particularly bad blizzard, surplus 5 gallon Jerry cans were used to transport diesel fuel to the generator, since no fuel trucks were capable of providing service for several days. It wasn’t the most efficient way to keep the generator running, but it worked. Before the disaster strikes, it’s also a good idea to calculate your generator rate of fuel burn.
Maintaining your Uninterruptible Power Systems – UPS – also needs to be considered. Even during non-emergency periods, keep tabs on your UPS battery condition, and like the generator, make sure the systems are routinely tested under load.
Be Safe & Secure
Another oft forgotten area of concern is security. Make sure your entire staff is briefed on station security procedures. This can take the form of a policies and procedures notebook. Are your security protocols adequate to prevent unauthorized access during a disaster?
The topic of Disaster Preparedness is worthy of an SBE meeting! Ask your fellow engineers what plans they have used; what went right, what went wrong. A collective discussion will benefit everyone.
If you’ve developed plans, share them with us. You can email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.