Does your department use clear text or radio codes to communicate? By clear text, I mean no use of codes, instead, stating Engine 54 on scene verses Engine 54, 10-97 or some other number related code. So the question here focuses on whether you use words verses numbers... with the exception of 10-4, we all use copy this...
There has been a big push the last 10-years to do away with any code usage. This was primarily done because of mutual aid responses. It's too difficult for everyone to know all the various numerical codes that agencies were using. Not much is really standardized unless you are talking on a CB. A couple of years ago, this discussion occurred regarding the use of 10-Codes.
With words, everyone knows what is going on. Short, concise phrases or words are used to minimize radio traffic and in some cases, voice communications are minimized with the use of buttons on a computer console that indicates responding, on scene, available, etc.
One of the best descriptions of an emergency communications system was provided by who works in Fort Washington, Maryland.
"Our county uses computer dispatching along with numeric paging and station tone outs. We use standard vocal transmissions on 10 UHF channels one of them the main dispatch channel and the rest response and fireground channels. EMS radio channels are controled through state medical operations for medical transmissions to hospitals but we can transmit info on a response channel to our communications center so they can call the hospital by phone and tell them what a ambulance is bringing to them.
The med channels have tone guards so that units can use the same channel without messing with the other units in another county or state. As far as I know this is a nation wide radio system because we can transmit to hospitals in other states under direction of the state EMS operations.
The county is working on replacing the present radio system with a 700 to 800 mHz system. All the surrounding counties, cities and states have replaced theirs and our county was the holdout while the others are talking to each other and we are still using VHF mutual aid radios or putting their radios in our units to talk to them."
How are things done in Australia and New Zealand?
Aaron Whitford posted in a discussion that in New Zealand, they use a LMR (land mobile radio) network. This allows a "toned" message to be sent to the fire communications center to minimize voice communication. The LMR is posted above.
they are dispatched by alpha/numeric pagers. Communication from then on is by VHF radio using repeaters. All communication is by plain English, with no use of codes. from Melbourne, Australia reported that New Zealand Fire Service are again upgrading the LMR (land mobile radio) to touch screen computerized units. replied to this and provided and shared that the
So where do you stand now in 2010? Are you NIMS compliant? Has your agency been able to obtain and use the newer computerized systems or are they still using older radio systems. Of course there's always the option of using Blackberry's and iPhones down the road. Maybe this is the answer?