Ep 26: Communications

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Episode 26: Communications

Dispatch, Radios, Face-to-Face, Chain of Command, and More

Bill Godfrey:

Hello, welcome back to the next installment of the podcast. Today, we are going to be talking about communications and we are going to be talking about all kinds of communications, radio communications, face to face, chain of command, who talks to whom and more. My name is Bill Godfrey, I'm the host of the podcast with me today are three of the instructors from C3 Pathways. We've got Mark Rhame.

Mark Rhame:

Thank you for having me.

Bill Godfrey:

Glad to have you here Mark. Kevin Burd.

Kevin Burd:

Hello, I'm glad to be here as well.

Bill Godfrey:

And we have Billy Perry.

Billy Perry:

Hey, good afternoon. And thank you for having me.

Bill Godfrey:

Okay. So we are going to start with where it begins from the beginning, which is right at the radio dispatch, which I think is going to lead us right into talking about some radio discipline stuff. Mark, lead us off. What are the things that jump out at you right off the bat, when we have an active shooter event, we get that initial dispatch. What are some of the things that go wrong right off the get go?

Mark Rhame:

I think, when we build out the teams, it's very important that we have an understanding who's talking on the radio. There should be a leader in each of the teams and that person's the one that talks on the radio. If you have a four person team and all four of them are trying to talk on the radio at the same time, there's no radio discipline. And we're just clogging up the radio. And think about what you're going to say before you say it. That's very important because it's too much, you get someone there that keys up their radio and they're humming, and they're saying things are not necessary. So I think it's all about trying to get that radio discipline right up front and make sure that we have one individual in those teams that's doing the communication. And that way we can keep the radio communication down to a minimum.

Bill Godfrey:

Billy, I've heard you talk before and sometimes quite eloquently about radio discipline or the lack of, and I believe I've heard you use the phrase diarrhea mouth.

Billy Perry:

Right.

Bill Godfrey:

Can you explain that a little bit?

Billy Perry:

Yeah. I know the fire services doesn't have this issue, but in law enforcement we have people that feel like it's their own personal communicatory platform and they launch into these soliloquies or diatribes that go on and on and on and on and on and they're unnecessary and meaningless frankly. And another sign that I gleaned from one of my mentors is words mean things. And don't say anything unless you have something to say. And honestly, I think in law enforcement do work, then talk about it. And I think that's something that's important. And I think one of the things that you were talking about when we’re setting things up, knowing what needs to be said and what your actual procedures are and what the policy is for what we're doing, we're talking about an active shooter incident here. That's why we're all here. And we know who's going to be there, everybody.

And that's why we have to have ground rules. We have to understand this is not your normal everyday call. So if you use codes and signals and things that's probably going to go out the window and you need to know how to shift gears. That's the professionalism component that I hit on with regularity. "Well, that's not how we always do it." Well, congratulations. This is where we're professional, we're shifting gears, we're not in your standard run of the mill call. Now we're in the super bowl. Let's shift gears and let's know what we're doing and what our policy is and how to more effectively communicate this to enhance the survivability of the incident for everybody.

Bill Godfrey:

Kevin, what are your thoughts on radio discipline? What jumps out in your head?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, I'm going to piggyback on what Billy just said. When we're responding to the scene and we get on the radio, first thing that we've run into a couple of times is, we don't want to switch channels, right? In the middle when you are focused and you have that assignment, that purpose and task, and you are going into the incident, the last thing you want to hear, and I've heard this come on the radio a couple of times asking you to switch over to a different channel, but if you're involved in the incident and I don't know if Billy, if you have a thought on this, I don't want to look for a radio channel in the middle of going in, right? I'm going to stay on that primary channel.

So that's one of the things I've seen where we've had dispatchers or somebody get on, and this isn't a negative thing they're trying to coordinate it, but the person that's focused understand what they are dealing with and what they're going through or about to go into and we don't want to switch channels, but then we want to communicate out, try and keep it short, concise, right? One of the things that we've talked about from my law enforcement experience is no more than a couple of points 20 or so words. And it can be said in a few seconds, get on, say what you have to say, communicate what you're doing, where you are, what is happening around you, right?

Billy Perry:

Almost like the checklist.

Kevin Burd:

Yes, exactly, right?

Bill Godfrey:

Clear, concise with confirmation.

Kevin Burd:

Yes, exactly. Yup. And that was one of the biggest things that I've seen. And I think goes back to the diarrhea mouth on the radio. We don't need to hear a minute and a half or two minutes of the, "I love me speech, and this is everything that I'm doing right now." Because there's other people, everybody's coming, right?

Billy Perry:

Right, everybody.

Kevin Burd:

And we need to all be on the same page and get that air time, that radio time when it's the most important.

Mark Rhame:

Frankly, what saved a lot of that airtime environment in my career, especially toward the end of it is the timeout feature. It saved that one individual who, for some reason, thought that they own that radio channel and wanted to talk the fire out from a fire perspective. When you get that timeout feature, it killed him and remind him that, "Hey, you're done right there." So as you say, clear, concise with confirmation, it's the only way to go. And know what you're going to say before you actually key up that microphone.

Billy Perry:

And that again, to reiterate, have something to say.

Mark Rhame:

Yes.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, So what is the responsibility of supervisors day to day. Just regular day-to-day stuff. Because it's not like they were the perfect communicator before and they suddenly got diarrhea mouth on an incident. These are people that have a pattern of doing this. What's the responsibility of the supervisor or is there any day to day to correct it before it becomes an issue? You get somebody new on your shift, whatever. What are your thoughts?

Billy Perry:

I think it falls not only on the supervisors, but also on the peers. I think we train and groom each other, if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. And I think peer pressure is pretty strong. And I think that's an issue that we're encountering throughout the country. Throughout the nation, there is a paradigm shift in the law enforcement continuum. And that's a whole other podcast, frankly, working on that. But I mean, I think they definitely have a responsibility to groom them because we're training for this. This is the Superbowl, this is the worst of the worst, the bad. And so everything culminates in this and...

Mark Rhame:

But what might also help too, is that we all read after action reports, but pulling the dispatch tapes in your own organization and listen to what just occurred and critique that in a positive way. You can actually correct probably a lot of those behaviors by just listening to yourself because when you're hearing yourself, you're hearing that mindless rambling, if you will. And we all have to come to that conclusion that we're all in the same boat. I mean, I've done it, I know probably everybody else has at one time or not in their career when they just rambled on and rambled on and someone else couldn't get onto that radio channel. So sometimes pulling that dispatch tape and listening to yourself and your crew might help out some.

Billy Perry:

That's a whole 'nother podcast, just debriefs. Just who does debriefs and who doesn't do... does honest and open ones, but you're right. I think that's huge.

Bill Godfrey:

So we've got radio discipline. Let's talk a little bit about how we cut down some of that traffic, how span of control plays a role in that, and the idea of a chain of command and who talks to who. And I want to make it clear that we're not suggesting this rigid chain of command just because. The whole idea is to split up the span of control so that we can reduce the amount of radio traffic and make it a little bit clear. Kevin, what are your thoughts on that? How big a deal is it that when those contact teams are going downrange, that we actually get some sense of a team assignments. And we have a leader that's speaking for the team, as opposed to everybody on the radio, things like that. Talk a little bit about that from your perspective.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. So one of the things we tried to concentrate on in our trainings was, if you were assigned to that contact team one, and let's say it's a three or four officer element, one person be the radio one person be the voice, unless somebody else had to go on. You had that discussion as part of that assignment going in. So that way we have that one person working the radio, and if a second contact team goes in and does the same exact thing, we're cutting down on possibly eight officers, getting on the radio at any given time, and we have those two communicating directly with one another, right? Same discussions that we have in our trainings here about having a scribe and a radio work in the tactical position, the command position it's for a reason.

It's so, certain folks have certain responsibilities within these teams, these elements, and that can be one person's responsibility so we're not having to think and get three or four people on at the same time. And that starts, I think in my mind that radio discipline, if you will, because we're identifying, who's going to be on the radio and could it change? Yeah, absolutely. Tactics are intel driven and the environment dictates the tactics, right? Things are going to change as we go through. But if you have those assignments, you can start that communication process. Hopefully it then builds out. So when the tactical position comes up, now we have somebody that's going to respond on the radio to that tactical position, we have a direct line of communication between those positions.

Bill Godfrey:

Billy, have you seen this go wrong in some instances that you can talk about where the opportunity to organize into some teams or just some small units, as opposed to everybody being an individual where you've seen that go wrong and what the implications of that are?

Billy Perry:

Thankfully the implications weren't as horrific as they could have been. However, and I hasten to add, one of the challenges that we have in law enforcement and I'm very blessed that our agency doesn't do this. We do not let good luck reinforce bad tactics.

Bill Godfrey:

So just say that again.

Billy Perry:

We do not let good luck reinforce bad tactics and we do have open and honest debriefs when we do own the fact that we build this up by the numbers, let's undo this, let's learn from this because the only thing worse than no debriefs is a debriefs where you think everybody was perfect and you end it with a bunch of high fives. That's disingenuous and so-

Bill Godfrey:

And rarely called for.

Billy Perry:

Right, right, right. So, yeah, I've seen it. And the biggest thing is, know who should talk, like Kevin said, and let's take RTFs, take RTFs. Who's talking is the fire talking, is police talking? I mean. And the answer is actually both at specific times. That's the answer. The answer's yes.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, exactly. And that's a question that comes up on a fairly regular basis.

Billy Perry:

It does, and it's a good one. And if you don't train it, you don't know. Now how often should the police officer and RTF talk? Rarely, real rarely. But when there is something for them to say, it needs to be said. And I think that that's know because you don't know what you don't know. And the big words mean things. Words mean things, and you have to use nomenclature, I hop on it repeatedly. Professionalism, know the nomenclature of your equipment, know the nomenclature of your units, know the nomenclature of your org chart in your procedures, in your policy for what we're doing here. Because there's a huge difference between tactical and a tactical team.

Bill Godfrey:

Yes, yes. There is. Mark, before we leave this specific topic that Billy just brought up, can you talk a little bit about that confusion in the rescue task force about who talks to whom, who reports to whom, the mission of the team. Can you address that?

Mark Rhame:

Of course. And let me review the hierarchy there first, before I get into who talks to who. Remember we have a tactical officer standing next to a triage officer staying next to a transport officer. They are joined at the hip. They are talking to each other face to face. So it does not make any sense for that RTF, which is a medical mission with a law enforcement support, going into that environment where that law enforcement officer with that RTF hears the fire EMS person talking to their direct supervisor, the triage officer and tells them something, and then the law enforcement officer does the exact same thing, same communication to the tactical officer. That goes against what we're trying to tell them, because those individuals are talking to each other face to face, triage, tactics and transport. So that triage officer, soon as they get that information from their medical side of that RTF, should turn around to the tactical officer and the transport officer and said, "Let me update you on what they just said." If they didn't hear it direct. And that way we cut down on that communication duplication. And that's how these RTFs and how this whole hierarchy system works in that active shooter environment.

Bill Godfrey:

It's interesting. In the first few moments you've got law enforcement officers at downrange, and they're going to be providing some patient information, some medical information, counts severity, things like that. But once the rescue task force gets downrange that medical radio traffic should be coming off of the law enforcement channel and getting moved over to the fire EMS channel. Law enforcement should be enabled and empowered to focus on that security mission and that law enforcement mission and allow the fire EMS that are part of that rescue task force that's downrange with them, carry that medical stuff so that they can keep eyes up. Kevin, how often have you seen that turn into an issue, both in real events and in training where we don't end up cleaning that up.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, now unfortunately it does come up and we are all type A personalities, right? We want to be in charge. We want to do good stuff.

Bill Godfrey:

What do you mean?

Kevin Burd:

We want to do the right thing, but we don't have to do all the work to accomplish what we-

Billy Perry:

We want to do the right thing, but we don't have to do everything.

Kevin Burd:

Exactly, exactly. So if we can shift that communication with the medical, what we're talking about, over to the medical component on the RTF and they contact or communicate with triage tactical, that's one less thing you have to do. You don't have to do everything. And that's why we integrate these positions, right? And I know as part of communications, most jurisdictions out there, fire and law enforcement are not on the same radio channel. So it's another reason why we do it. So as you were just saying, we can communicate, we can lean over to our right or left and say from a tactical position, "Hey, triage or transport, this is the information I just heard." Triage and transport can just turn over their shoulder and say, "Hey, tactical, this is what we just heard. This is the information we have." We don't need to continue to go on the radio and bog down the communication systems that we have.

Billy Perry:

The police officers that are on the RTFs are listening to the law enforcement channel and they're telling their fire and EMS compadres, "This is what's going on. They're keeping them abreast.

Kevin Burd:

Which is important information.

Billy Perry:

It's Super huge. And when we said they should both be talking and they should, the fire is transmitting all the patient information, the law enforcement component, anything law enforcement related, we just got more intelligence. They should put that out, and the reason being so that all the other LEO can hear it because it's on the LEO channel. If they engage obviously post engagement, they should say, "Hey, we just engaged this, just to let you know." And that should go on law enforcement... just again, to let the rest of law enforcement know. But that's it, everything else, there's a security element for the fire and EMS the end.

Kevin Burd:

Exactly. And you said it before, they don't have to probably be on the radio that much. Every once in a while, we're going to want to know from the tactical position, "Hey, you okay?" "Yeah, We're good." "Where are you at?" "I'm here." Right? Very basic-

Billy Perry:

And our department has known this is good news, if we don't check in and we're good to go. And people say, "Well, then if you get lost, we'll do doom on you."

Mark Rhame:

At least you have friends with you.

Billy Perry:

Exactly. You're not by yourself. You know what I mean?

Bill Godfrey:

Do you pack a lunch when you go on these things?

Billy Perry:

We do actually, we call them journeys in the hundred acre woods. And honestly this is going to shut down things, but that's what we do here. After we go through the checklist and I'm teaching a basic active shooter class on Thursday and Friday, and we tell them, "Once you go through the checklist, this is what you're here, we're done." And honestly, if it's [inaudible 00:18:37], we may even turn it off. We know what we're doing and we'll turn it back on in a minute after we've engaged actionable intelligence and everything else, instead of [inaudible 00:18:47] because who's coming? Everybody.

Mark Rhame:

And I think that's part of the problem is that, and we go back to this type A personalities, there are people that think there's something wrong if they're not talking on the radio, if they're not keying up their radio and talking. And frankly, sometimes your success should be measured by how quiet you are and it's a good scene. If you're the incident commander and you very rarely get on that radio because you have a good team working for you, you got to Pat yourself on the back because you probably did an excellent job. And it might've been, you just selected people that did the right job, you communicated directly to them, not over a radio, talked face to face because that's probably the more appropriate way to do it. You don't have to be on the radio to get the check mark, that's the bottom line.

Billy Perry:

And it's not only how often are you on the radio, but it's how are you on the radio?

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. So let's take that and tangent into the paradigm shift for a lot of our law enforcement dispatchers. So, and to compare and contrast on the fire EMS side, fire and EMS hardly ever does anything alone. It's not a one-person job. You're always bringing friends, usually a lot of them and-

Billy Perry:

You ride together.

Bill Godfrey:

We ride together safety in numbers. There's teams that are pre-organized. And generally speaking that behavior of one person talking on the radio sometimes works. There are certainly exceptions and fire can make a mess of radio traffic just as fast as anybody else. But one of the things that's uniquely different culturally between law enforcement and fire is the role that dispatch plays as the incident begins to unfold. So on the fire and EMS side, you'll typically have an incident command that's set up very early, it gets very active and most of that information is running internal to the scene.

It's the incident commander talking to the troops that are there on the scene. But we see very often as we roll through the training and we get law enforcement dispatchers that come in, it's very clear that they're used to having to play that coordinating role on a regular basis. And so Mark said, "You've got to remember that it's okay not to be on the radio." And I hear dispatchers say to me, almost every class, "I feel like I'm not doing my job because I'm not talking, I'm not coordinating." And sometimes you've even got to pull them back a little bit to say, we're trying to get them to stand up their structure-

Billy Perry:

Silence is golden.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. Kevin, you and Billy, both careers in law enforcement, how big of an issue has that been in the career that you've seen, do you see it changing now? Is it still a cultural issue? Go.

Billy Perry:

Well, like I was saying, I was groomed early that if you're out of control in the radio, you're out of control in the car, you're out of control there. So everything was super succinct, super calm, super measured and report what you did. Don't tell what you're about to do. And if you found yourself saying what you were about to do, you're wrong. Unless it was going to be, "I'm going in to engage and I'm done." Tell what you did and, "I'm okay, and here's where I am." Does that makes sense? And I was raised on that early and I think, staying controlled, staying professional...

And again, like I was saying, knowing to shift gears, are we coming out of signals and 10 Codes, or are we going into plain talk now because of the alphabet soup people that are here? Every three letter agency and every other jurisdiction and every other everything is here, and just knowing how to shift gears and how to navigate that. And again, less is more and what are we focused on? We're focused on saving lives. And if what you're saying, isn't helping save a life, shut up.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. And coming from an area where there were smaller jurisdictions, smaller police departments, 10 officer departments, 15 officer departments, and not the amount of critical incidents that some larger departments, larger jurisdictions have, that is where I saw the radio communication really start to deteriorate. Because they didn't have the experience of having a lot of those high level, high stress incidents, and they felt as if they weren't saying something on the radio, they were doing something wrong.

And half of the radio broadcast, if you will, that went out, really, they didn't need to be said. They were out of control, which was an indication. Yeah, exactly. So there were times where, even in my career had to intervene if you will, and literally take command so we could calm it down and get everybody back under control. And again, with the smaller jurisdictions and not having that experience, it could tend to deteriorate very quickly.

Bill Godfrey:

How often do you see law enforcement agencies today that still are, I don't know if rely is the correct word, but they're still relying on dispatch to be that hub of a temporary command because nobody on scene has grabbed it?

Billy Perry:

I'll answer that with this, get on YouTube and watch officers that are getting beat to a fare-thee-well screaming on a radio. Nobody's going to jump out of there. I've watched hundreds of those videos. I'm sure you have too, and I've never seen any human pop out of that microphone and help fix anything. So I think they're looking not only for leadership from that microphone, I think they're looking for assistance from that microphone, and I think they are looking for the answer from that microphone and spoiler alert, the answer is within you. And if you have not prepared for this... again, I've said this every time it's no different than finances, failing to plan is planning to fail. And if you have not prepared for this...

When people say my life flashed before my eyes, that's true because your mind is going through any event that you've been through, any training that you've had that you can call on that was similar to this, that will get you out of this situation. And if there's nothing in there to draw from it, you experience cognitive freezing. It's real and it's physiology. And that's what happens and you're screaming into that radio and I think they're looking for somebody to help them. And this is where we as agencies and we as departments and we as senior officers and this leadership and these supervisors, have to step in and what you were saying going, we've gone full circle back to where we were, and then we have to prepare for this. This is what we're preparing for.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. And for me, I saw it on a regular basis, also coming from those smaller jurisdictions with a one central county-wide dispatch where law enforcement fire and EMS all came out of one dispatch center for the entire County. Everyone got on the radio expecting dispatch to take care of everything they needed immediately.

Billy Perry:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Kevin Burd:

So I agree, hundred percent.

Billy Perry:

I'm telling you.

Bill Godfrey:

So, still a little room for improvement there.

Billy Perry:

Smidge. It's in the triple integers. Again, it won't take you but seconds to find 10 officers breathing their last breath and saying their last words on that radio instead of fixing something. Seriously, I don't care how good you are at something, you're better at it with both hands. And if one of them started doing that, telling somebody that you're whatever, don't. And again, that's one of those times, if it's not saving a life, don't get on the radio.

Bill Godfrey:

So let's change gears here a little bit and switch us over from talking about the human side of this, radio discipline, radio behavior, the culture of the disciplines. And let's talk just briefly, I don't want to do a deep dive in this about some of the technology pieces and the technology challenges. We've all seen during the course of our careers, the technology come that would solve interoperability problems. In fact, for a number of years, I worked on a whole bunch of interoperability projects nationally. And I can say with a hundred percent confidence that our continued interoperability problems are not technical. They are people related. Lack of cooperation, lack of training, lack of sharing information.

Billy Perry:

Lack of understanding of the technical aspect.

Bill Godfrey:

There you go. Let's talk a little bit about how do we... So that's the world we live in. It is what it is not going to get fixed overnight, but if you're part of that, you should fix it. So how do we solve that in the incident? Mark, what's one of the strategies that you've seen for addressing real time, in these critical events, when you've got mutual aid agencies, agencies that are maybe operating on different frequency, different channels, things like that, how do you keep moving the ball down the field without getting wrapped around the axle and without losing the ability for everybody to communicate?

Mark Rhame:

Well, I got to say that the first thing is, this has got to be accomplished before the alarm goes off. It's got to be done in training, it's got to be done in getting together with the agencies you've run with on a regular basis and make sure that everybody understands how we get to that radio channel, how you switch to another group on the radio, how you accomplish all those things we're trying to do, because when you're in the heat of the environment, that's the wrong time to be discussing this. It isn't going to work. And in fact, you'll probably make it worse by trying to accomplish it at that time. So it's got to be done ahead of time. It's got to be done in those training environments and realize that sometimes we have limitations. We can't get everybody on the same page sometimes and we just got to figure out how we can to accomplish the goal.

We used to talk about when we've built out RTFs or contact teams and they're with mutual aid units, maybe people you've never met in your entire life and you're standing there and staging, you've built out your teams and getting ready to get deployed, and you're coming up with that, "What's the radio channel we're going to use?" And then one guy or girl, whoever it is in your group says, "I can't get that radio channel." Work around it. Guess what, that person's not going to be talking on the radio, someone else is. And we understand that. We understand it right up front that that person can't be part of the communication link. They're still part of the team, they're a valued part of the team, but they can't talk on the radio because simply they can't match up with us.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. And I agree a hundred percent and been involved in some of these and I'm sure Billy has as well, where we've, depending on the type of incident you're responding to, I know we're talking active shooter, you're not going to have time to get into a position. Like if we're doing a slower, more methodical search where we can take somebody from two different agencies have them hip to hip so we have both radio communications going in, but then you have to take the tactical position or that command position and have those radios next to each other also. So the same message is getting out to both. And we've been involved with that on a couple of times and quite frankly, it has not worked out well at all.

Bill Godfrey:

And I know that I've seen on a number of occasions, even when there has been planning ahead of time, and there's an interoperability plan and we've got these radios that are capable of 200, 300, 400 channels now between these different banks and the different channel settings. And I know that everything is set up, but when you ask somebody to switch to that channel... Say that again, Billy because-

Billy Perry:

They know how.

Bill Godfrey:

They don't know how to switch, they don't know where it is.

Mark Rhame:

That little laminated card that they got? It's in the car.

Billy Perry:

they're like, "What is a flight?"

Bill Godfrey:

What's a bank, a group, a channel? I don't know what that... How do I... I push buttons?

Billy Perry:

I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to fly. I just want to talk.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. And here's the other thing, what we've seen, sadly is that half of them don't know how to find the channel and the ones that do find the channel, often their radios don't actually work because there was some programming error or somebody changed something or a little left-handed

Billy Perry:

The flash that they didn't get-

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, some flash programming update they didn't get left hand's not talking to the right hand and you end up with a mess and it almost forces you to have to solve some of this stuff in staging. Doesn't it Billy?

Billy Perry:

Yes, it actually does.

Bill Godfrey:

How much does it impact you as a law enforcement officer on a contact team and your mission, if there's four of you, three of you, four of you, five of you, whatever, and only one guy has the radio that actually is on the channel with tactical?

Billy Perry:

We can totally make that work. I mean, it could impact it obviously, but we can make that work. It's suboptimal, but it a hundred percent doable. I don't want to do that because you know me, I'm from the department of redundancy department and I want all the radios to work. But that's just me. But yeah, I mean, is it going to impact your mission efficiency? Of course, of course, because two is one, one is none. I mean, that's a truism, but I think it is what it is. And that goes back to the professionalism component, again, is your equipment up to up to date? Is your equipment squared away? Do you have the equipment that you need, including are your radios flashed? For police that's an issued item generally for you all they stay in the station, right?

Mark Rhame:

Not always. When you get up to a chief level, normally you have an assigned radio that's yours. But you're exactly right in regard to the station level. Engine companies, rescues, radios are assigned to seats.

Billy Perry:

Right. And as a bomb technician, we worked closely with the fire department for the hazmat, for the meth labs, for the white powder calls and all that. And the way we communicated was through cell phones, frankly. We would say, "Hey, we've got a call. Are you on your way?" Which hazmat unit it was and that's, again, it's through relationships and through communication. So...

Bill Godfrey:

A lot of very interesting challenges. Well guys, we have to wrap this up as we're running out of time. So let's go around for, I'm going to say not just final thought, but what's the biggest thing in your mind that gets in the way of that good radio communica... I hate to use the word good, that effective radio communication. So final thoughts and then one thing for effective radio communication.

Billy Perry:

Final thoughts. One thing for effective new communication is calm demeanor, being in control, slow, measured, and regular words. And I think the same thing, it's not just on the radio, we hear it here. We'll hear somebody say, "Who's the room boss?" And if you don't know what a room boss is, and some people don't, I think you need to be able to articulate what it is you're wanting. Don't use catch phrases, don't use super cool terms because everybody may not know what it means. Use plain language, and let's talk and that's for the radio and for face-to-face communication.

Kevin Burd:

And I'm going to piggyback right on Billy because I was going to say the plain language. How many times did we run classes where they're using 10 Codes, Q codes, whatever they're using. But in those instances-

Billy Perry:

Signals.

Kevin Burd:

Signals, when everybody's coming, it's got to go to plain language so everyone understand what is going on. And the one thing I'll add on to is if your communication goes down, you better have the discussions about plan B. What is going to happen next?

Billy Perry:

By that you mean when your communication goes down.

Kevin Burd:

When your communication goes down, because it's going to happen, right?

Mark Rhame:

You're in Florida when you get a hurricane?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. It's going to happen, right? So have that plan B and maybe that plan B, we've run trainings at schools and some radios don't penetrate through schools or larger buildings, you may have to go to the face-to-face or the sneakernet. Find the person that's in the best shape because they may have to start doing some running so we can make sure we know what's going on in there. So just have that plan B in the back of your mind also.

Mark Rhame:

Yeah. And we had plenty of buildings and our first do that you could not communicate once you go inside that door and you got to have that runner or plan B. And hopefully you're surveying your area. I know for fire and EMS, that's a little different than maybe for law enforcement, where we were pretty much going into the buildings in our first do. Now does that solve the problem? No, because you may get dispatched to the other side of the county or the side of the city and in enter building you've never been in your life, simply because that wasn't where you were stationed. But you have to have that plan B you're exactly right, Kevin. One thing Bill before I answered that is that, remember when we get in this class, especially when we talked about active shooter incident management and usually it's the day two or day three when we get into complex coordinated attacks when we have multiple scenes going on at the same time.

It's really important that you clearly denote which scene you're on. And I say that over the radio. So to give you example, let's say you have an incident going on at your international airport and you've got one going on at your train station. It would be [inaudible 00:37:08] if you're the incident commander of one of those sites to say airport command or train station command or use actually that word. In my career, it's happened a couple of times. Fortunately I wasn't on either scene, but I was the supervisor for that shift where we had two significant scenes going on at the exact same time, and for whatever reason, units responding, went to the wrong channel, started communicating with the wrong command.

One actually happened when we were landing a helicopter on an entrapment. That was about a mile apart from two entrapments that were going to exactly the same time and the helicopter landed on the wrong scene. Simply because they got LZ instructions and they got landing instructions, but frankly they never called out the location they were at on the radio, with the incident commander, because I guarantee you that helicopter pilot would have known that was the wrong intersection if they would've said it. And they came in and landed and the crews are going, "What are you here for?" And they realized it was the wrong scene.

So I would tell you that, making sure that you clearly denote what scene you're on when you have multiple events going on in your community probably would help out a lot. The other thing is that, as he's talked about Bill, how we can clean this up, as I said this before is that, think about what you're going to say before you push the button. There's nothing worse than pushing that button and then taking up dead space on that radio. Think about it for a second and then push that button and give that clear, concise, communication. And that really paints that picture in a very, very short environment.

Bill Godfrey:

I think for mine, I'm going to do a linked too for training, but training where there's leadership that's paying attention. I think there's a lot of ills that can be fixed with training. Familiarity with your equipment familiarity, with your mutual aid groups, familiarity with other agencies. All too often, while I think most agencies do a lot of training or at least I would hope that they do, we're not terribly good about always inviting the agencies next door, the other groups, the other discipline, and trying to do some joint training. And I think those are always great, great, great opportunities to address these issues. To be familiar with the equipment, to know what are the radio channels that we have in common, what can we share? What can we do? What works, what doesn't work?

And I think the leadership piece of that is, leadership needs to not only encourage that training, but frankly insist upon it, that it gets done, and then pay attention to the problems and actually follow up, fixing them. So if you've got people that are at the training that are long-winded, diarrhea mouth, using 10 Codes when you're supposed to use plain language, if you've got people that are making mistakes during the training, it needs to be corrected. And that's not always fun when you're a supervisor, because you end up looking like a jack hole, because you're on people for what they think is fairly minor issues. Well, sorry, not sorry, that's part of the job of being a supervisor. It's part of the job of being a leader.

And I think the other piece of that is when you have those training sessions and you get the information and feedback that, "Hey, there's a problem. This system doesn't work with this system. They don't have our channel. We can't talk to them. Fire and police don't have a channel in common that they could use if they needed to. We run with this other law enforcement agency and because ours is on an encrypted system and theirs isn't, we can't communicate and talk and well, we're not going to unencrypt it and we're going to..." Oh my God, get over it.

The time is passed, we got to work together. And that takes leadership and it takes training. So I think that's where I land on that one. All right. Any final words? Everybody's shaking their heads giving me the thumbs up. So I think that's going to wrap us up. We went a little bit long on this one. Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen, but thank you for being a part of the podcast and I hope you enjoyed it. Please if you have not subscribed to the podcast, please click the subscribe button. We are releasing podcasts every Monday. Until the next time stay safe.

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