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Walkie talkies with earpieces to help
with safety, communication at Cathedral

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

Does the Cathedral of the Epiphany now have secret service detail?

Not really, but when they are using their radios with earpieces, it kind of seems like it.

Father Brent Lingle, director of worship and master of ceremonies for the Diocese of Sioux City, explained the earpieces are more for safety and communication.

“The point isn’t to act like the secret service, but it is supposed to make things flow easier,” he said.

The radios were purchased last year as a part of the Emergency Management plan, noted Father William Vit, rector of the Cathedral of the Epiphany. 

Emergency plan

He explained the radios are placed at various locations around the cathedral property to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency such as weather, natural disaster, active shooter, etc. 

“Our employees are trained to activate the nearest radio and establish communication,” said the priest.  “As a part of our Emergency Management planning process, we decided that the radios would be engaged at all major diocesan events. We use the radios at these diocesan events as well as at large parish events to ensure the safety of those attending.” 

In the event of an emergency, Father Vit said it is important to have clear lines of communication to ensure well-informed decisions are made. 

He recently took part in Active Shooter training, which is the same training Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools will be offering its faculty and staff this fall.

“The instructor pointed out that in the aftermath of an emergency, we always hear people say, ‘I didn't think something like this could happen here,’” said Father Vit. “We must be prepared to handle any emergency whether it is the result of a natural disaster or a malicious act.” 

The radios operate at a commercial frequency and are thus subject to FCC regulations. A licensing process with the FCC was required in order to operate the radios, noted the rector.

Special Masses

“The secondary use is when we have big events,” said Father Lingle. “We can use them to coordinate and have good communication.”

The Chrism Mass was the first time the devices were used for a special Mass at the Cathedral.
Father Lingle pointed out at the recent ordination of Father Frank Lona there were six people with earpieces in place for communication. The earpieces are connected to a two-way walkie talkie with a microphone to communicate back-and-forth.

“Part of the intended goal is to save us from running around in between buildings all the time,” he said. “When we have a big event like that, we have some priests and deacons vesting in the Epiphany Center. We will have the bishop and others in the rectory. I will be with servers in the church. There are people in the choir loft. It is an easier way to save steps and stress in the moments of preparation prior to the Mass.”

The devices are mainly used prior to Mass and not during the ceremony. In the event something does happen, Father Lingle is able to speak in someone’s ear to help with direction.

Any time there are big events or Masses, Father Lingle said there is always room for improvement and to make things easier for those involved.

“You learn different ways to streamline and improve things from others,” said the priest. “This is one of the ways we thought we could do that for ourselves.”

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