Critical Communications


Communications is a critical factor in every aspect of emergency services.

GOAL: Improve radio communications during emergency scene operations. 

No one could say that good communications is important for firefighting, but not law enforcement, EMS or disaster response. Likewise, as complex as emergency commutation networks get (analog / digital / repeaters / encrypted / trunked systems / tin-cans w/strings) there are a few best practices ( if you don’t like that catch phrase then call them fundamentals, core concepts, or just the stuff everyone should do ) that every emergency responder should follow.

Do you use a portable radio?

Do you use that radio to communicate with other portable radios? If so, then you’ll want to share the video below.  This is an IAFC video produced with Motorola but what they show applies to every branch of emergency service and every brand of radio.

Don’t go BACK, go FORWARDS.

If you’re reading RescueDigest, you’ve probably been an emergency responder for a while and you’re probably pretty familiar with the radio system that you use. But are you able to communicate as well as you want, every time? Don’t think of the this as “Back” to Basics, it’s moving “Forward” to Fundamentals. Radio communication skills are inherently fundamental to operations at any emergency scene, no matter what your role. These Best Practices won’t make a poor radian system work like magic, but if you can take 15 minutes and zero dollars to improve how you are heard on the radio the way they show in this video, isn’t that a sound investment in this economy?

APPLICATION: Review, implement and share the radio Best Practices described the IAFC video. 

Radio Communication

About The Author

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Editorial Director of RescueDigest, Rom Duckworth is an internationally recognized writer, speaker, and educator. Co-founder of the New England Center for Rescue and Emergency Medicine and an emergency service provider for more than twenty years in fire / rescue services, public and private emergency medical services and hospital based healthcare Rom can be found at and on Twitter @romduck



About romduck

Rom Duckworth is a dedicated emergency responder, author, and educator with more than thirty years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and private emergency medical services. Rom is a career fire captain and paramedic EMS Coordinator for the Ridgefield (CT) Fire Department and director of the New England Center for Rescue and Emergency Medicine. Rom holds a master’s degree in public administration, is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program, and is the recipient of the NAEMT Presidential Award, American Red Cross Hero Award, Sepsis Alliance Sepsis Hero Award, and the EMS 10 Innovators Award. Rom is the author of "Duckworth on Education," as well as chapters in more than a dozen EMS, fire, rescue, and medical textbooks and over 100 published articles in fire and EMS magazines. A member of the NAEMT Board of Directors, as well as other national and international advocacy and advisory boards, Rom continues to work for the advancement of emergency services professions. Contact Rom via