It is important to remember we only speak in plain English. The only ten codes you may hear are 10-33 which means step it up (respond emergent) or 10-4 which essentially means, “okay”. Otherwise there shouldn’t be any ten code use. Keep in mind that the squad is not the only group being able to hear what’s being said on the radios. Many people have scanners and have the ability to listen to our transmissions. This means it is extremely important to sound professional on the radio. Make sure to think about what you are going to say before you key the microphone. Make sure to key the microphone by holding the button for a moment prior to speaking. Hold the button throughout your transmission. Once you are done speaking let go of the button.

Things to remember:

  • Transmitting on the correct radio frequency
  • Know what you will say before you do
  • Hold the side button for about 2 seconds before speaking
  • Plain talk not ten codes

An example of a usual transmission might be: “Whitewater Dispatch from 1283” Dispatch will respond, “go ahead 1283”.  Your response: “1283 is en route”. If you have further questions about radio operations, make sure to ask.

Responding to Calls

When you respond to a non-fire call, we inform dispatch that we are responding, with three parts. First, contact dispatch with your Med Number and your EMT level (A for advance, B for basic)

Med Unit: Med 38 A to Whitewater Dispatch.

Dispatch: Med 38A

Inform dispatch of where you will be going – to the station or to the scene, while repeating your med number. 

Med Unit: Med 38 A will be en route to the station.

Dispatch: 10-4. Med 38 A en route to the station.

Pager Channels

The pager has four channels – A, B, C, D. These four channels change how the pager operates or which calls it will alert you to. 

  • A: The pager will activate with an audible page and relay dispatch information
  • B: The pager is in listen mode. You will be able to hear all radio traffic on the WFD Repeater Channel
  • C: The pager will activate with an audible page and relay dispatch information ONLY FOR FIRE calls
  • D: The pager will activate silently (vibration) and relay dispatch information.

Portable Radios

Whitewater Fire and Rescue portable radios have access to multiple channels.  The most important channel is the WWFD Repeater channel, which is the channel that all pages are dispatched on, and that members can contact dispatch on.  In addition, there is a talk-around channel (which is a backup channel), and all of the cities municiple radio channels, including UW-Whitewater Police and Whitewater Police.  Both of these channels are monitor only, and you will not be able to speak on those channels.

The portable radio, also have access to the fire ground channels. These channels are used on large incidents, primarily fires, as a way to separate traffic. In these situations, IC may assign you to a specific channel. If assigned to a channel, you should have one radio on that fire ground channel and have one radio on the Whitewater Fire Repeater channel. For more information, review the information in the MABAS portion of the Mutual Aid, Auto-Aid and MABAS class.

Radio Reports

 When you are transporting a patient, you need to make contact with the hospital to inform them that you are en-route to the hospital.  To do this, you must choose which method of contact is appropriate, and determine what information is relevant.  Radio reports should be kept short and sweet, only the information the hospital needs now to get ready for the patient’s arrival.  Other services may need to make a report as well and there is only one line that everyone shares.

Cell Phone vs Radio 

Radio transmissions are unsecured, meaning that anyone with a scanner can listen to the report, including other ambulances in the area or Joe Shmo at home with his radio on scan.  For this reason, PHI (personal health identifiers) must be kept out of the transmission, per HIPAA.  This means no names, dates of birth, or other identifying information.  Although the listener may not be able to determine who the call was for with just the radio report, if it is paired with the initial dispatch page and any chatter on the channel during the call, a lot of information can be learned.  One benefit of a radio transmission is that it is almost always available when you are within range of the hospital.  Distance does cause a problem as the signal cannot reach extremely far way.

When using the radio, if you hear a beep as you talk, you’ve hit the 2 minute mark.  You should release the mic, rekey it and continue on with your report.  However, you should hurry up, you’ve been talking for a while now! 

A cell phone, on the other hand, is secure.  People are not able to “eaves-drop” on the conversation between EMS and the hospital. This allows PHI to be transmitted, such as patient’s name and date of birth.  One drawback of the cell phone is that it requires adequate reception, without with a call cannot be placed.

 Pertinent Information

 The major part of the radio report comes in the form of what information needs to be relayed to the hospital.  In most cases, you can simply follow the run report to give the information.  You begin by stating the service and truck number to the hospital “Whitewater 1282 to Fort Hospital”, they will respond “Go head 1282, this is Fort”.  From there, you can deliver your patient information.  Start with the (physical) gender of the patient, the patient’s age, and chief complaint.  Include any details that may help paint a picture of the scene for the hospital.  Continue on with your vitals; the last set of vitals is generally acceptable unless there is significant change between sets – in which case you should state your first set, taken xx minutes prior, was this, and current set is this.  Include Blood Pressure, Pulse Rate, Respiration Rate, Pulse Ox, Capnography (if attached), Blood Sugar and Temperature. For vitals, you should repeat them as single numbers to ensure that the hospital understood them.  (One hundred and five over sixty seven, one-zero-five over six-seven).  Also include skin color, temperature and color.  If the patient has any health conditions the relate to this call (such as CHF for a patient with difficulty breathing, or history of three prior heart attacks 4 years ago for a patient with chest pain), relay that information as well.  If the health condition does not appear to have any affect on the patient’s current status (patient has chest pain and is a type 1 diabete with blood glucose of 122), that information does not need to be relayed. Finally, relay any interventions provided; this is especially important for interventions that the hospital will have to continue, such as CPAP.  Finish your report with an ETA to the hospital and asking if the hospital has any questions or orders.

Example Radio Report via Radio

Whitewater 1282 to Fort Hospital. [Go head 1282, this is Fort] Good evening Fort, we are inbound to your facility with a 62 year old male with a chief complaint of Chest Pain. Patient was initially clutching his chest, in his chair upon our arrival. A 12-lead EKG was acquired and transmitted to your facility. Patient vitals are as follows: BP of 164/102, 1-6-4 over 1-0-2, heart rate of 124, one-two-four, respirations of 22, two-two, and pulse ox of 96% on 12 LPM via non-rebreather. Initial O2 sat was at 86% on scene. Skin is cool, clammy, and pale. Temperature is 98.5 F. Patient had a triple bypass surgery two years ago. We have a 18g IV established running at TKO. We have administered 324 mg of Aspirin and administered one dose of 0.4mg of nitro approximately 2 minutes ago. We have an ETA to your facility of 7 minutes do you have any questions or orders?