Portable radios are the single-most versatile equipment a firefighter or emergency response unit can carry into a hazardous situation.
All responders receive information about an emergency by radio. Commands, deployment, and coordination also happen using these portable communication devices.
For all of the above communication scenarios to work, though, it is important that all portable radios are in good working condition and that all personnel are skilled and knowledgeable about the use of such devices.
Knowing the Hardware
As a responder, lives may one day depend on knowing which button to push or knob to turn on your radio. And in many cases, you only have a few seconds or even just one chance to get it right.
Familiarize yourself with the device’s different features, especially with the functions you don’t often use. When the day comes that you really need a certain function on the radio, chances are, you’ll be in an emergency situation, so prepare.
Newer radios like the MOTOTRBO XiR P3688 use the latest digital technology that improves operational efficiency with easy-to-use voice communication. These and other similar units often pack a lot of features in as few functions and buttons as possible.
Practicing Communication Protocols
In most emergencies, the bulk of a responder’s radio communication involves listening and updating. Wait for dispatch to finish talking before responding. Even if they are not directly addressing you, it’s good to listen and provide useful information only when the lines are clear.
Emergency scenes are filled with noise pollution and in most cases, your radio can be exposed to rain, heat, water, ash, and other debris. Minimize exposure with proper radio practices.
Shield the microphone with your hand or coat, move away from the source of the exposure, and talk directly into the microphone in a clear and concise manner.
In certain situations, hearing aids and accessories are crucial in improving communication. Remote microphones, for example, make transmissions clearer and crisper, while ensuring you hear responses properly. Special earplugs also help by cancelling out background noise pollution, enabling you to hear all radio traffic coming over your remote mic.
Good radio communications are critical for efficient, effective emergency response. Be sure you’re prepared to deal with any emergency and communication problems by getting to know your equipment and the best way to use it.