The other pager topic reminded me of something I wanted to discuss: alphanumeric pagers.

Being pretty much an all-volunteer county, we are facing a switch over to an alpha paging system at some point and some concerns are:

Trying to read a pager message for updates while driving down the road at night, etc.

Are the beeps loud enough to wake one out of a sound sleep?

I am sure there are many out there that have faced this. What experiences, both good and bad, are out there?

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You nailed it on the head. Your responding in a POV to the station, and the thing won't shut up with updates. Now your fumbling for the foolish thing and trying to read a screen when you should be attentive to the road. It's great for initial dispatch, but after that, give me a voice control anyway. I would rather hear whats happening than have to read a 1 inch by 1/2 inch screen at 3am
My handheld gets the job done,if I'm out I push the quiet button and wear the mic close to the ear.I've got a pager but it stays next to the bed.
Will the tone wake you up? Yeah, I think it will. I still have one of the Motorola Advisor Elite models for my day job, and without a doubt it wakes me up at night.

But as the other posters remarked, the last thing I want to try to do at night is decipher the text on the pager. Or worse yet, try to decipher the text on the pager while I'm driving.
So Kevin, is everyone issued a portable radio or are you an officer?
all have radios.
we use them with our other pagers.they work in places that our minitors dont.
So you carry two pagers? That's actually an interesting idea. We run run both fire and ambulance from our station, and we have two different pagers (voice) for this (frequency split for fire dispatch and ems dispatch is too great to put on one pager) -- but to carry a text-based pager during the day or on shift that would give both dispatches (and then carry the voice ones at night) would be a very interesting, and useful idea.

I like the idea of text based paging during the day, or in addition to the voice based paging.-- You have the address and conditions available right there, no questions as to whether it was a "55 main street" or a "65 main street", etc.
Well it happened today - dispatched to a haz mat incident. Driving (non-emergency mode) to the staging area there were two updates on the alpha haz-mat pager.

The first came in while I was on the expressway in thick traffic. Yes, I took it out of the pouch and tried to read it - can't do that very well with polarized sunglasses on. A quick read then back into the holder.

The second update comes in 4-lane traffic, 40 mph zone. I fumbled it, looked at the message (still had the glasses on, still couldn't read it) and thought: this is exactly what I had foreseen.

Another thought occurred to me: In June I responded to an accident, SUV vs. truck in which 5 teenage girls were killed. The speculation was that there was text messaging going on causing driver inattention but it can never be proven. Now we have a consultant who has recommended a switch to alpha paging and doing away with voice paging. I can imagine some of the younger and not-so-young members (me) trying to read an update message while flying along with lights on. It is just a disaster waiting to happen.
let you know shortly we are switching over right now
GoooooooD Luck. We had pagers for everyone, (alpha's) about 2 years ago. 2 apparatus wrecks and 3 volunteer POV wrecks later all have "lost" them, or just chunked them into the dresser drawer and continue to use their Minitors. They couldn't be read half the time, would'nt pick up pages, half the info would not show on screen. Granted part of the problem was the paging system, hap-hazard and meant for Chief Officers in the parish and not the ground troops. I prefer to hear whats going on.
I have an alphanumeric and a voice pager.... I never look at the alpha numeric.

Sort of on topic (sorry if this counts as spam), but have you seen the emergency responder reply system? Once you get paged on your pager (voice/text or whatever), you pick up your cell phone, speed dial a number, and in 3 seconds, your name appears on a screen at your station and at dispatch. You can press a second button if you want to let them know where you are responding to (station, scene, which station, etc).

We use it in our department. I arrive at the station, look at the screen on the wall, and now I know who is responding. I can tell if I have enough members or if I need another dispatch. I can assign people to seats, since I know who is responding, before they even arrive.

First person in the door makes the call of whether we need another dispatch or not.

I wait for people to arrive now, instead of leaving short, because I know that they are coming.

Alternatively, I do not wait any longer when no other people are responding.

Sorry if this seems like spam.
Brad, it's not spam... perhaps a bit off topic but certainly not spam. Sounds like a neat system if your department can afford it. And if you have cell phone coverage everywhere in your district. I don't have coverage at my house, and it is spotty at best in many areas of our town.

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