Radio Technique

Defining Communication

Communication is more than simply the transmission of information. Communication requires feedback as an element of success in transmitting or imparting a message.

Communications has four parts:

  1. the sender
  2. the message
  3. the recipient
  4. the feedback


The final part of a communication is feedback: the recipient lets the sender know that they have received and understood the message. In some cases you can paraphrase the information that was sent. In other cases it involves a verbatim repeat of the information that was sent.

“So, let’s just run over that one more time. I think I am going to do x, and you are going to do y. Is that your understanding too?”

Be careful of the words “go” and “no”.

Listen first

You have two ears and one mouth. Listen first.


Hand held radios are half-duplex. This means that they can transmit or receive. One or the other. If two people transmit at the same time neither one will hear the other one.

Push to Talk

The radio is normally in receive mode. You have to press the Push to Talk (PTT) button to make the radio switch into transmit mode.

After you press the Push to Talk (PTT) button, pause for a beat before you start talking. Should you start talking and then press the button, your first words will be cut off.

Another reason to delay a beat is that we might be using a repeater. Due to hills, valleys, buildings and vegetation, it might not be possible to reach everywhere with a handheld radio. The solution is to have another radio located up high, like on Site Summit, or Glen Alps near Flattop Mountain. Our radios will be configured to transmit on a frequency that the repeater listens to. It then re-transmits on a frequency that we are set to receive. Everyone can see the repeater up high, and we relay off of it. The repeater amplifier needs a noticeable fraction of a second to come up to full power.

The flip side of this is to release the Push to Talk (PTT) button a little bit after you stop talking.

Place the microphone an inch or two away from your mouth.
‘Speak across the mic’ Speak in a normal tone of voice.
Get close, but not too close
Your voice should be projecting across the microphone.

Tactical call signs

We are likely be using “tactical” call signs. We will use our assigned location or job title rather than our names. In some cases the location might have two or more people working the position. At any time, for any reason, one of them could be away from the radio. Some jobs might be covered by multiple shifts.

Don’t talk too long

Don’t be long winded on the radio. The primary reason for the radio net is safety. One person droning on might prevent emergency information from being transmitted.


It is said that the one thing that you can hear clearly in a noisy crowd, is your own name. The same thing applies to radio communications. Hearing your name or tactical call sign once might be enough to attract your attention, but on the second time, you really listen.

Announce who you are trying to talk to, and then say who you are. An example would be “T1, T1, Pool” answered by “Pool, this is T1, go ahead”

Emergency Patient Privacy

In our environment, in an emergency, never identify a patient over the radio. No names, no bib numbers, no detailed descriptions “25 year old with purple hair wearing a Barney the dinosaur costume”. Personal information and details move to discreet direct communication in person or by cell phone.