Radio Protocol

A volunteer ranger talks to a group of visitors at a viewpoint in front of a mountain range.

NPS Photo

Why Radios

Park phones are the most reliable form of communication in the park, but are only located in offices and visitor centers and cell phone service is spotty in some places while non existent in most. The primary mode of communication in the park on the roads and trails is the radio. Radio service covers almost every corner of the park and allows for communication among staff and volunteers but it is important to keep in mind that the whole park uses the same radio system, so calls should be limited to emergency and immediate situations.

Radio Use

To use the radio:
  1. Turn the volume knob to turn the radio on. You should have it on and audible at all times (you may turn it down when talking to visitors, just remember to turn the volume back up).
  2. On the screen it will tell you what repeater you are on. There are different repeaters for different areas of the park. If you are in the Paradise/Longmire area you are on the Paradise repeater. If you are at Sunrise you are on the Sunrise repeater. If your radio "isn't working" try turning the other knob on the radio and changing the repeater.
  3. To make a call, hold down the talk button on the side for one to two seconds then release. You should here static, which is how you will know the radio is working and on the right repeater. If you don't, try it again or try a different reperater.
  4. Hold the radio two inches from your mouth, hold down the talk button, wait two seconds before speaking, and initiate your call. Follow the format "Hey you, its me, on (repeater)." Staff in the park will have three digit radio call numbers that you will use rather than their name. Volunteers go by 'VIP Last Name,' and Dispatch is simply 'Dispatch.' An example would be "Dispatch, VIP Jones, Paradise." When you are finished speaking, release the talk button and wait for a response.
  5. Whoever you are calling will then acknowledge your call by saying "VIP Jones, go ahead." You then proceed with your pertinent information. If you do not receive a response wait a few seconds and try again, if still no answer, wait a few minutes and try again. If it is an emergency, keep trying until you reach someone! See Emergency Calls below. Only speak for 30-45 seconds at a time. If you cannot deliver all the information in that amount of time (in most cases you should be able to), say "Break" release the talk button for two to three seconds, then continue.
  6. Keep conversations short and to the point and do not share sensitive information over the radio (unless Dispatch instructs you to do so). When you are finished with your call say "VIP Jones, Clear."

Radio Speak

Please do not use "radio code" other than the following:
  • Affirmative - Yes
  • Negative - No
  • Copy - I understand
  • RP - Reporting Party
  • WIC - Wilderness Information Center (Sunrise or White River)
  • PWIC - Paradise Wilderness Information Center
  • JVC - Jackson Visitor Center
  • PI - Paradise Inn

Situations Requiring Radio Usage

Radios should only be used in emergency situations or when pertinent information must be communicated immediately. Below is a list of common situations and who you should call:
  • Life-Threatening Emergency - Dispatch - When calling in an emergency add "Emergency Traffic" to the end of your call. Example, "Dispatch, VIP Jones, Paradise, EMERGENCY TRAFFIC." This lets Dispatch know there is an emergency and tells the rest of the park to stay off the radio. Emergency traffic ALWAYS has radio priority. If you hear of an emergency situation on the radio, please with hold from using the radio until the situation is cleared (Dispatch will say "Emergency Traffic Clear") unless you are directly involved or need to report another emergency.
  • Non Life-Threatening Situation (i.e. minor injury, separated party) - Dispatch - For situations that will or may require staff assistance, call Dispatch and give them as much information as possible (See Reporting Incidents below).
  • Resource or Grievance Issue - Meadow Rover Coordinator - The majority of resource issues (i.e. a vandalized trail sign) can wait to be reported at check out. However, if it involves an animal or you would like instruction on how you should respond or take action, you can call the Meadow Rover Coordinator. Maureen (West Side) is 560, Mattie (filling in for Maureen on Wednesday/Thursday) is 412, and Yonit (East Side) is 521.
  • Change of Route or Return Time - Meadow Rover Coordinator - If you are making significant changes to your proposed route and/or will not be returning at the time indicated, check in with your Meadow Rover Coordinator.

Reporting to Dispatch

Calling Dispatch for emergencies and non-emergencies is pretty much the same. If reporting an emergency you simply add "EMERGENCY TRAFFIC" to the end of your initial call. When calling Dispatch Be prepared to give as much information as possible.
  • WHAT (do you have): Include condition, age, gender, medical history (has this happened before), incident details, and any other pertinent information.
  • WHEN (did it occur)
  • WHERE (is the visitor and where are you if not in the same location): Be as specific as possible. If you have coordinates, give them to Disparch, but if not, explain where you are using trail junctions and landmarks.
  • If you are reporting an incident someone else has reported to you, keep the Reporting Party (RP) with you until Dispatch says they can go.
You should be prepared to stay at the incident and with the reporting party until Dispatch gives you direction other wise. Dispatch will also give you instructions for what actions to take next.

If reporting a crime in progress, stay at a safe distance and do not get involved. Gather as much information as possible (suspect description, direction of travel, vehicle description, etc.) and report to Dispatch.

Last updated: June 13, 2019

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