Best Practice for Radio Users

Clear, Efficient Communications

Procedure Words in Radio Communications

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Procedure words are standard, easily pronounced words which have been assigned special meanings to speed up messages handling on radio networks. They should be used whenever appropriate.

The following procedure words are acceptable for general use:

Acknowledge: Use this when the person you are addressing must acknowledge receipt of the message.

Affirmative means Yes, or that is correct.

Break Break: You have an urgent message and need to interrupt the current conversation

Correction: Indicates that an error has been made and that the transmission will repeat from the last word correctly used.

I say again: I will re-transmit the message, or part of the message

I spell: The word will be spelled using the phonetic alphabet

Negative: No, or that is not correct

Out: End of transmission – no reply is expected

Over however, means it is the end of transmission and a reply is expected.

Radio check: what is my signal strength and readability?

Relay to: Transmit this message to the addressee indicated

Roger: Message received and understood

Say again: Please repeat your last transmission

This is: Indicates the calling unit’s identification is next. For instance, if dispatch were making a call and needed to identify themselves, they would say “This is dispatch”

Wait: A pause of a few seconds follows

And lastly, Wilco: I will comply with your message

Emergency Procedure Words

There are also 3 procedural phrases that are specifically for emergencies.

Sécurité: This is a marine safety alert and is normally repeated 3 times.

Pan Pan: This is an urgent call requesting help and is also repeated 3 times.

May Day: This is an emergency distress call that overrides all other communications and general etiquette is to keep the channel clear until the event is cleared.

The use of correct operating procedures, whilst it may appear irksome and over-efficient to some, does save considerable time if every operator is aware of what to expect. Should an operator have an urgent message to clear, he should break in on the channel and say so – but this action should always be used with discretion, clearly bearing in mind the degree of urgency of the message