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Radio/walkie-talkie protocol

  • The main channel is #1 (subchannel 1)
  • The site-lead goes to #2 (subchannel 1) when sleeping

Think before you use the radio

The most important part of radio traffic is figuring out what you want to say before you start transmitting. Take a moment and ask yourself the following:

  • What do you need?
  • Where do you need it?
  • What do you need it for?

Once you have done this (consider writing it down if this helps), you're ready to make a call.

Tips for Effective Radio Use

There are five key steps to making an effective radio call:

Think | Listen | Push | Pause | Talk

  • THINK about what you're going to say.
  • LISTEN for at least 3-5 seconds to make sure the channel is clear.
  • PUSH and hold the button on your radio to begin transmitting.
  • PAUSE for at least one full second. Take a deep breath.
  • TALK calmly, slowly and clearly.

Initiating a Radio Call

Before you can get to a request, you need to establish a connection with the person you need to contact. To do this, we use the following:

“(Destination), (Destination), this is (Source)”

Some examples:

  • “Ranger lead, ranger lead, this is Ranger Bob.”
  • “Site lead, Site lead, this is Ranger Lead.”

Make sure you call for roles, not people where possible.

Once you have sent a call requesting a conversation, wait to hear a reply. If they don't answer, try again in about 20-30 seconds.

Typically the reply will be the following:

“Go for (Destination)”
“(Source), Go”
“(Source), this is (Destination)”

In either case, the destination of the call is telling you they are ready for your message.

Sometimes the reply will be “Stand By for (Destination)”. This means that the person you are trying to call is busy. In this case, they will call you back when they are free.

Sending your Message

State what you need, where you are, and any other pertinent details.

Nobody on the radio can transmit at the same time as you. Therefore, it's important that messages are as short as possible. If you need to have a longer conversation, ask for a face to face.

To get the maximum information across in the shortest possible time, use the XYZ format:

“I need (X resource) at (Y location) for (Z reason)”


  • “I need medical at the courtyard for a sprained ankle.”
  • “I need a face to face at Sanctuary for assistance in sourcing some tools.”
  • Make sure you put the action or resource you need to the front of the message, as this will help get what you need to you faster.
  • Wait for a reply from the person you are calling to make sure that the message was received.

What to say / not say over the radio.

Radio transmissions are considered public speech. Anyone could overhear a conversation.

A general rule is that we don’t say anything on the radio that we wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper the next day. That said, whenever possible we use plain English to improve the clarity of our communications.

If you're in doubt, ask for a face to face.

Avoid saying any of the following over the radio:

  • Profanity of any kind.
  • Death or dead. Instead, request medical for an unconscious and not breathing participant and request an immediate face to face with a ranger lead.
  • Don't attempt to diagnose a participant's conditions. Describe symptoms and severity.
  • Drugs (by name, generically), “high”, etc. Don't try to diagnose, and instead describe the state of the participant: “over-refreshed”, “altered”, “disorientated”, “unresponsive”, “unconscious”
  • Full legal names or identifying information of participants, other than when reporting a lost child or when requested to by a ranger lead or site lead. Be respectful of other people's privacy.
  • 10-Codes, ACPO, or other radio slang. Avoid phrases like “10-4”, “Twenty”, and other procedure words that are not listed below.


Receiving a Message

If you are on the receiving end of a message, make sure that you acknowledge every message that you receive. It is generally advised to repeat back what you understand.

Continuing our examples from above:

  • “Copy that, dispatching medical to the courtyard for a sprained ankle.”
  • “Copy that, moving to Sanctuary for a face to face.”

Words / Phrases with special meanings (Procedure Words)

The following is a list of words or phrases that have a special meaning when used on the radio.

ALLCOMM: This is a call for everyone. Repeat 2-3 times.

  • “allcomm, allcomm. Does anyone know the location of Ranger Brian?”

BREAK: Used to break up long transmissions with pauses to ensure that more important radio calls can be made (see BREAK BREAK BREAK below). Make sure you release the button when pausing.

  • “This is an example of a long message, break
  • [Pause 2-3 seconds]
  • “It allows someone else to interrupt this message if it’s more important, break
  • [Pause 2-3 seconds]
  • “It also gives people some time to process each part of a complex piece of news, or to write down details. out.”

BREAK BREAK BREAK: Everyone cease transmission and listen. Used for emergencies.

  • break break break, site lead, site lead, this is the ranger lead.”

OVER: Use when done with talking and expect a reply.

  • “Do you have a location for that broken pipe, over?”

OUT (or CHANNEL CLEAR): Use when done talking and you do not need a reply. This is optional but is a helpful signal to others that the channel is free for use.

  • “Copy that, proceeding to the location of the broken pipe, out.”

STAND BY: Use to indicate that you have heard a message but cannot respond immediately. If receiving a standby it means you should wait for the reply. It can be helpful to give an estimated time as well. If you are giving a stand by, you're expected to call back when you are available.

  • “Ranger lead, Ranger lead, this is Sanctuary”
  • Stand by for Ranger Lead, 5 minutes.”

RADIO CHECK: Use this to check your radio is working and people will hear you. Simply send 'radio check'. If all is well, will receive a (possibly sarcastic) message explaining that you have a working radio.

  • Radio check?
  • You have a radio!

TIME CHECK: Use this to get the current time.

  • Time check?
  • The time is 15:45.

About the radio protocol

  • This protocol is intentionally similar to the radio protocols used by Nowhere, Borderland and Kiezburn. If you know how to use radios on one of these burns, you should be fine at Schönburn and vice versa - if you learn radio usage at Schönburn, you should be fine on other European burns.
  • The protocol is created and maintained on Slack channel #radios