Becoming the Broadcast Disaster Master

By John Bisset on May 14, 2014 11:01:00 AM

TornadoHardly a week goes by that weather-related disasters aren’t touching some section of the country. So how can you protect yourself? In this three part series, we’ll look at some general preparedness techniques, then, drill down to the studio and transmitter sites.

Your thoughts on this topic are appreciated.

“Be Prepared” isn’t just for Boy FlashlightScouts

Having emergency procedures in place are always a plus. Let’s start with some simple solutions. Do you have emergency lighting, or at the very least, working flashlights in every room? See what’s available from Eveready. I liked to use the rechargeable flashlights, so there was no worry about dead batteries. Emergency lighting fixtures from e-conolight are less than $20 each.

What about emergency contact information? It never hurts to grab some station swag and visit your police/sheriff or fire departments. In cases of emergencies, they are among your best allies. Make sure they know who you are. I typed up a sheet with the GM, PD and my name and numbers listed – on station letterhead – and made sure each entity had a copy.

Police carExtend that contact information to include your building management / building engineer, public utilities – telephone, cellular, electric, gas, heating oil companies, etc. Include the account numbers, if applicable.

The same information should be collected on all service companies – plumber, electrician, HVAC, generator service, fuel service, tower crew – any company that provides service to your station. If you don’t have need for generator service, check and see what companies will rent generators.

Having the contact information for a disaster clean up company like ServPro® is also good insurance.

Assemble all this information both electronically, for your phone or tablet, but also for your management team. Finally, print out this resource and place it in the control room.

Serving the Public Interest means Being On the Air

An emergency card has been adopted by many engineers – it’s a business-size card with the management staff’s home and cellular phone numbers, small enough to fit in a wallet. Distributed to everyone on the management team, it’s a good demonstration of your “thinking ahead” should an emergency occur, demonstrating to your management that you’re being proactive.Roadblock

Emergency access to sites can also be a problem. Check with your state emergency preparedness agency or state association of broadcasters about developing and providing emergency identification cards that will help engineers gain access to restricted areas in case of a natural disaster. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to argue your way through a roadblock while your station’s off the air.

In our next installment, we’ll focus on studio issues with respect to disaster preparedness. In the meantime, post your thoughts and other disaster preparedness ideas here, or drop John a line.

Ed. Note: A former contract and chief engineer, John Bisset is the Western Regional Sales Manager for the Telos Alliance, handling Axia, Telos, and 25-Seven products.

Topics: Radio

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