Methods of communication
An effective system of communication must be established between a party in the field and the base or monitoring organisations such as police, coastguard or mountain rescue. Available methods vary greatly in cost and not all Schools will have access to the more sophisticated items e.g. satellite phones.
This is a list of available systems to be considered, however there are other alternatives that may be suitable for special environments, this should be identified in the risk assessment:
Mobile phones – give 2-way contact and independence from a base but reception is not always available due to terrain and/or lack of relay stations. Moderately low cost, beware of call charges, have suitable charging equipment (consider solar or other non-battery dependent), small size and portable.
Personal mobile radio – gives 2-way contact but is dependent on a base transmitter, limited range and frequencies, interference problems. Low running costs, initial outlay low to medium cost.
Citizen’s band radio – 2-way contact, not base dependent, limited range, open frequencies which may attract unwelcome attention.
Public telephone –no capital outlay, limited availability especially in remote areas, vulnerable to vandalism.
Satellite communications –potential for global cover, high cost and availability.
Whistle/torch – 1-way contact (coded message, SOS)., very simple, low cost but distance/weather limited.
Movement detectors – 1-way contact (alarm signal), useful for workplaces but not externally.
Flares – 1-way contact (alarm signal), universal distress signal, low cost but limited in poor weather.
Automatic position fixers – emergency alarm transmitters using satellites, costly but give worldwide coverage, especially useful for maritime applications.