When public safety professionals need to work together under pressure, their communication has to be reliable, as well as very structured and orderly.
Some communications are more important than others, which is why priorities are so important in professional radio communication systems. But, what if there were no priorities?
Group call, or one-to-many call, is where one group member speaks and the others hear them. One person can speak at a time by keeping the push-to-talk key pressed. When he’s done, he releases the key, allowing another to speak.
Without priorities, everyone in the group is equal. If there is a queue, it’s first-come-first-served.
Yet, most groups include a leader, whose communications are very relevant.
A good PMR system assigns priorities to group members. The leader would have higher priority, getting the next turn to speak, and perhaps allowing him to cut off any other group member.
Without priorities, the leader could speak only when all the others before him had spoken.
Let’s say a team leader reports to someone above him, who gives orders to the whole team.
This higher-level leader often needs to give an order to many leaders below him and would prefer to talk to them as a group, rather than individually.
Without priorities, this communication would reach a lower-level leader only when there was no traffic in his other group. Only some lowe-rlevel leaders would hear the order. How would the order-giver know who heard?
Just as a member in a group might have more important things to say, some group calls themselves are more important than others.
A person can make a special emergency call or a distress call when he needs help immediately. Very much like a call for help, it is critically important.
Without priorities, an emergency call would be heard only when other traffic allowed. Proper PMR systems treat an emergency call as highest priority, clearing other traffic that would block it.
There are systems that do even more to make sure that an emergency call will not go unheard.
Imagine a countrywide system with many thousands of users from different organisations, authorities such as police and fire fighters and industry users like utilities. It needs a very versatile system to ensure smooth operation when all of these are involved in a critical situation.
Professionals communicate in a hierarchy. Whether delivering a group call, emergency call, or individual call, success will not come without proper priority schemes.