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Visual Communication Network
During emergencies, the importance for an effective communication becomes clear. For example, in response to recommendations of an independent panel reviewing the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) worked on several fronts to improve communications during emergencies, including streamlining collection of outage information during times of crisis through the Disaster Information Reporting System, helping ensure that communications workers receive “essential personnel” credentials during emergencies, working with other federal agencies to improve interoperability among first responders, and promoting use of enhanced 911 best practices. Emergency personnel and others often learn about emergencies through 911 calls. The 911 network is a vital part of our nation's emergency response and disaster preparedness system. This network is constantly being upgraded to provide emergency help more quickly and effectively.

If there is a power outage during an emergency, your wireline phone, wireless device or VoIP service may not work unless you have a back-up power supply. Note that because wireless networks may be congested during an emergency, sending a text message may work better than placing a voice call. Finally, unless you have a battery-operated TV or radio, these devices will not work during a power outage. 911 call centers or PSAPs currently lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos and video.

The iEPN "Visual Communication Network" (VCN) was devised to overcome society's dependency on communication devices that will not function during a power outage. The VCN is really quite simple as well as it should be in order to be truly effective during a disastrous event. The VCN has four (4) basic components to ensure "line of sight" or 911 visual communications. The VCN uses a color code of fluorescent green and fluorescent orange to identify the survivor's location or that the survivor is declaring a medical emergency and or the survivor is signaling all is clear we are safe and have no medical needs at this time.

The four basic components of the VCN and their functions are as follows.
  1. As mentioned the color code simply states that "Green" is all clear or safe, "Orange" (or red) stands for "Need Medical HELP" we are declaring a medical emergency.
  2. The PowerFlare Beacon is a battery operated device for 911 night time applications that will run up to 150 hours on a replaceable CR123 battery. The Beacon flashes in red or green in co-ordination with the VCN color code.
  3. The EmergencyGlow Light Stick works in tandem with the PowerFlare as a backup for night time 911 communications.
  4. Banners like those used for topographical maps are designed for day time applications in addition vests that are color coded and reversible are to be worn by all family members so that the 911 “Orange Vest” could easily be detected in a crowd of green colored vests.
This standardized method of 911 communications is extremely effective in Arial Reconnaissance (Helicopters), drive by or vehicle response and walk-troughs or our First in teams on the ground going door to door. The VCN all but eliminates the redundancy of the door to door search asking survivors the same question over and over "Do you need help." The VCN allows us to deploy First in Teams to where they are needed and by saving time we save lives.
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