Public health and safety needs are constantly changing, along with the best ways to tackle them. While emergency personnel are expected to keep up with changes in response efforts, funding and resources are not doing the same, leading to a gap between the necessary community services and what a municipality can reasonably provide.
Emergency responders — firefighters, EMTs, police officers, emergency managers, security professionals, and 9-1-1 dispatchers — are experiencing new challenges and workloads and require better resources to handle them.
Rave Mobile Safety’s 2022 Public Safety Trends Survey
We fielded a national survey that included roughly 300 emergency responders to better understand the challenges they face. We discovered the major challenges causing significant impact on public safety through the last 18 months, the key barriers to information sharing, challenges in communication, and changes needed to improve public safety operations for all.
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm, Researchscape, between December 2021 and January 2022.
We were presented with many challenges in terms of communication efforts, but the overall theme of the survey was this — public safety roles are becoming more difficult
61% of respondents stated that their jobs had become significantly harder, either because of COVID-19 (83% of respondents reported this to be the largest issue), hiring and staffing (72% of respondents reported this to be the largest issue) or because of the public’s perception of first responders/law enforcement (61% of respondents reported this to be the largest issue).
Communication Efforts Need to Improve
Cross-agency collaboration efforts have increased over time, but respondents mentioned that their agency’s ability to collaborate quickly and effectively needs to improve.
Communication is the single most important aspect of an emergency response plan. Real-time collaboration efforts speed up response times for emergency personnel and help them head into situations with the most accurate information. With increased situational awareness, firefighters, EMTs, police officers, emergency managers, security professionals, and 9-1-1 dispatchers can better manage response efforts and action plans.
However, a lack of access to technology impacts how well emergency responders can perform their jobs. Without the appropriate funding in technology and resources to increase collaboration during emergency situations, first responders will continue to experience avoidable challenges in their roles.
Communicating With At-Risk Populations
Respondents were fairly confident in their organization’s ability to identify and communicate with at-risk populations in their community. These populations include the elderly, those with reported mental health challenges as well as those who rely on medical equipment powered by electricity.
However, nearly 40% of respondents said they are only somewhat confident and 8% said that they are not confident in their organization’s ability to identify and communicate with at-risk community members.
This highlights the ongoing need for improvement in the way our communities respond to emergencies, along with their plans to protect the most vulnerable.
Barriers to Information Sharing
The following are the most reported barriers to information sharing and collaboration between organizations and first responders.
- 44% answered lack of technology to enable real-time collaboration
- 41% answered lack of funding and resources
- 36% answered an unwillingness from departments/agencies
- 35% answered security protocols
Without the proper tools, first responders will continue to face the challenges of sharing data during emergencies. Unwillingness from departments and agencies to share information and collaborate shows the need to shift mindsets.
All of the concerns listed above show that barriers to information sharing are preventable with the right communications software, showing a lack of resources may not be the root issue.
Public safety requires the involvement of all key stakeholders, not just first responders. Public safety leaders must be open to giving and receiving mutual aid, as well as be open to recognizing the benefits of better importation sharing. When technology is prioritized correctly, and the necessary funds and resources are allocated, it is much easier to protect communities from all kinds of emergencies.
Mental Health Emergency Response
84% of those surveyed mentioned that mental health history would be extremely useful when responding to emergencies, but 41% also said that collaboration with mental health professionals is not easy. An additional 48% of respondents noted that they do not feel confident in their ability to communicate with at-risk populations due to a lack of resources, not their willingness to do so.
Rave CEO Todd Piett says of modern mental health emergency response, “Those tasked with the safety of our communities face an uphill climb in their roles today…As they navigate an increasing number of challenges, so many of which are outside of their control, it’s critical public safety leaders have the tools and technology at their disposal to improve information sharing and collaboration so agencies can break down silos to communication.”
Communication is important in protecting the safety of the individuals and communities involved in mental health crises. State and local governments must be prepared to handle such situations.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to social unrest, reports of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses have increased by 50% according to some studies. Approximately 10% of police calls involve mental health concerns and that number continues to rise, so first responders must be prepared to take action at a moment’s notice.
All of this means there is a large need in communities across America for resources that help key stakeholders at all levels quickly and safely respond to mental and behavioral health emergencies.
How Rave Mobile Safety is Finding a Solution
Rave Mobile Safety is determined to help emergency responders across the nation improve these issues.
Through an easy-to-use, easy-to-implement critical communication and collaboration platform, all emergency departments at both the state and local levels are better equipped to handle emergencies of all types. Through two-way, confidential texting, it is easier than ever to connect to 9-1-1 operators, inform first responders of scenario specifics, and enlist mental health professionals for next steps.
Safety is a collaborative responsibility, and to have successful outcomes, emergency personnel must have access to vital resources such as a communications system.