"Make Good Operating Procedures A Habit"
From the April 2005 issue of EMCOMM MONTHLY
Let's face reality, folks. When push comes to shove, and when the chips are down, the majority of emergency communications will be voice (radiotelephone). At least in the United States. 100 years ago it was all in Morse. Spark gap was the mode-of-the-day...then later CW dominated. That was all there was. If you weren't a Morse operator...you didn't communicate. 60 years ago, a reasonable guess might be that the ratio was 50% Morse and 50% AM 'phone, plus perhaps a little SSB and FM.
It makes no difference if your favorite mode is CW or digital, or that voice is the least efficient mode. The reality is that most emcomm is done by voice...and will probably remain like that for a long time. CW, digital, and other modes are more effective in many ways and still have their place, and they can (and will) be used very effectively to supplement voice communications in certain situations and for specific functions. However, the reality remains...like it or not...voice is where we are at.
We all learned to talk before we entered kindergarten. By the time we left grammar school, most of us could read and write fairly well. By the end of high school, we all (should have, at least) mastered basic verbal and written language skills. While some of us had learned the Morse language by that time, most had not, and struggled to learn it later in life. Many hams learned just enough Morse to pass an exam...and unfortunately never or rarely use it. SSB and FM prevail.
In all public service, good communication skills are essential. But, unfortunately, what we hear on the bands...is usually NOT a good example of effective communication skills. As EMCOMM operators, we must NOT allow ourselves to become mediocre (or worse) voice communicators. Sadly, many operators emulate what they hear on the air. And what they hear, from both newcomers and old timers alike, is often improper, sloppy and/or inefficient.
So how does a skilled voice radio operator...operate?
A GOOD VOICE EMCOMM OPERATOR:
1. ALWAYS makes sure that his/her transceiver is properly adjusted. Mic gain level, on the proper frequency, not using excessive power, etc.
2. ALWAYS speaks clearly and succinctly...and not too fast (or too slow).
3. Establishes two-way contact and obtains a signal report before starting a transmission. (If you want a radio check take your radio to a repair shop.)
4. Avoids talking directly into a microphone. But rather talks "across the mic".
5. Knows and uses ITU PHONETICS
6. Uses ROGER solely to indicate that a transmission has been received and is understood. (ROGER is the voice equivalent of R in Morse.)
7. Does not use ROGER for "yes", "affirmative", or "I agree with you" and does not say: "That's a big ROGER" or some other similar slang term.
8. Says AFFIRMATIVE for "yes" and does not use it in place of ROGER. (They are not the same.)
9. Says NEGATIVE for "no". "Nega-tory" (or other similar slang terms) is not in his or her vocabulary.
10. Uses SAY AGAIN when they need something repeated. "Repeat" or "please repeat" may be confused with "received."
11. Says the call sign of the station he/she is turning the contact over to, followed by their call sign, followed by OVER. (Same as K or KN in Morse.)
12. Allows a one-second pause before transmitting. (If you wait too long...someone may butt in and say something like: "it's been passed to you.")
13. Keeps their transmissions reasonably short.
14. Pays attention and practices "TLC"...("To Listen Carefully").
15. Knows where (s)he is located and knows how to effectively communicate that location to another station.
16. On 'phone says: "Say your location" or "What is your location?" Never: "What's your QTH?", "What's your 10-20", or (worse yet) "What's yer twenty?". (Note: Law enforcement uses the "10 code" and their own phonetics. Amateur, commercial, maritime, aeronautical and other operators use the ITU standard prowords.)
17. Stays in a net (and pays attention) unless checked in and checked out.
18. Does not ask another operator to "check me in" (to a net) unless he/she plans to remain in radio contact with the relaying station during a net period. Telephone, email, Internet and other landline circuit relays are not radio...and do not count. Nor does: "Check me in to the net tonight. I'm going bowling." This puts the other operator on the spot and is worthless.
19. NEVER whistles, says "hell - oh", or blows into a mic when transmitting. (Use a dummy load instead.)
20. NEVER keys down on a frequency that is in use to adjust an antenna matching unit, and NEVER fails to identify when tuning up or testing.
21. NEVER slurs his or her call sign when identifying in voice.
22. NEVER "quick keys." On 'phone, always allow a pause of 0.5 to 1.0 seconds before PTT in order to allow another station break in. Then allow another 0.5 to 1.0 seconds before speaking. (This prevents cutting off the first few letters or words of your transmission.)
23. NEVER transmits using excessive power.
24. ALWAYS identifies at the end of each communication, and at least every ten minutes during a communication. (Part 97.119)
25. ALWAYS remains courteous and respectful of others on the air. (Even if the other operator is "a world class lid".)
DUH - UH!
Here are some transmissions that have actually been heard...during public service nets:
(After "doubling" on a net control station.): "Net? Is there a net on? What time is it? What frequency am I on?"
"BREAK!" (NCS says): "Go ahead". The "breaker" then asks: "Is the club breakfast this Saturday or next?"
"Uhh, W...as in...as in...as in...Juarez!"
"Uhh, H...as in...José."