By Dolph Holmes
Do you just pick up the microphone and just start talking? Oh come on ... you know you do! Well next time you pick up the mic, stop for a second and then talk.
It does a few things; it allows repeaters to become fully operational, gets the transmitter up and a digital ID to go out, or just gives you one more chance to think about what you want to say.
In classes, hopefully you learned a little on how radio systems operate but I doubt your instructor told you this little tip: Always do your radio calls the same way. Follow your local protocol, even if you consider they are wrong.
Keep your transmission short and to the point. Give the pertinent information and then wait for a reply. If you do not get a reply, don't just start all over.
Ask the other party if they copied your transmission. Often the other end gets busy with phone calls or face-to-face conversations, and they will have to get back to you shortly.
Above all when you hear emergency traffic, stand by and wait until the situation has ended unless you also have emergency traffic.
And remember — have someone at your department update your license for narrowband operation!
Dolph Holmes is a former radio communication supervisor for the Maine Forest Service. He has been with the North Yarmouth Fire department since 1999 and a ham radio operator since the early 1970s. He has several firsts in the satellite communications field and is always looking for outside the box things that can be used by COMM-L folks everywhere.