Jefferson Search and Rescue (JSAR)
Explorer Search and Rescue (ESAR)

This page contains radio procedures used in emergency services, but these practices make for good radio communications generally. For reprinting for personal use, save as an HTML file so it can be readily edited and printed.

JSAR Radio Communication Procedures

These procedures are to be used for Jefferson Search and Rescue radio
communication. They are intended to provide clear and concise
communication between trail teams, base camp and other JSAR personnel.
Radios may be either SAR radios or amateur (ham) radios.
Remember, the world is listening to what we say.
It is more important to listen than to talk.

The most easily understood messages are short and concise.  Compose
complex messages before transmission, avoid long messages.  Aim to be
easily understood.  Think before talking.  State a short summary and
then follow with more details as requested.  Avoid 10-codes and other
jargon (except for the below listed pro-words). Avoid monopolizing a
channel, leave silence between transmissions so that others may

1. Determine if the message is really necessary.
2. Listen to see if the channel is busy.  Wait until another
   communication is finished.
3. Call the destination station and give your tactical  callsign:
      "Base camp, this is Team 1".
   Repeat several times until the destination answers:
      "Go ahead Team 1".
   Do not give a go ahead  until you are ready to copy a message.
   Do not give your message until you have gotten a go ahead .
4. When the destination answers, start your message by stating your
   purpose, e.g.
      Reporting current position
      Radio check
      Requesting assistance
      Message for Incident Commander, ready to copy?
5. State your message, speaking slowly.
      "Hasty team's position is top of ridge above Tunnel Creek.
       Position follows...Go ahead".
   If the message is long, ask for confirmation every 15-30 seconds:
      "Position is blah blah ...  How copy?"
      "Understood"  or "Say again"
6. Repeat numeric values:
      "47 degrees 45 decimal 4 minutes North"
      "I repeat 47 degrees 45 decimal 4 minutes North"
   Say "zero" NOT "Oh" for 0 ; say decimal for a decimal point.

Since anybody can be listening, do not report any injury or death or
refer to bodies or corpses in plain language.  Mission leaders will
assign code words when appropriate to indicate these topics.
Reception of a code word by base camp will be a signal to turn off
radios or to go to other channels so that the general public in base
camp may not inadvertently hear devastating news.

If possible, write down messages to be passed to other personnel.  If
a message is not completely received, ask for repeat: "Say again".
After a message is received and understood, reply with: "Understood"
or "Will comply". If you do not have an immediate answer,
ask the calling station to "Standby".

Spell out easily misunderstood names and words using the international
phonetic alphabet below. "Subject's name is Sundahl, spelled Sierra
Uniform November Delta Alpha Hotel Lima".

Base camp will usually log all message traffic.  When a formal message
is received, it will be repeated back to assure correctness.  Keep
formal messages short and concise.

JSAR SAR radios use SAR 1 and SAR 2 channels:
SAR 1 (155.160) - primary JSAR operating channel
SAR 2 (155.205) - Olympic Mountain Rescue (OMR) communication, use only
when permission granted by OMR.
Do not transmit on any other channels.   Some SAR radios may have other
public safety and law enforcement channels.

See below.  Several amateur radio repeaters are used for
communication between base camp, EOC (Emergency Operation Center at
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office) and field teams.  When operating in
the west end of Jefferson County, HF radio is used for communication
between base camp and the EOC. Use of these frequencies requires having
an Amateur Radio Technician License. All JSAR members are urged to get
an amateur radio Technician license.  All that is required is some
study and passing a multiple choice test.  No code (cw) is required.
With a technician license, members can use VHF and UHF amateur radio
repeaters to contact the sheriff's office EOC and other amateurs.  JSAR
radios may be programmed for amateur radio VHF frequencies.

1. Before a team leaves for the field, a radio check should be
   performed for each radio.  A radio check consists of a call to
   somebody close by and receiving a re-ply that transmission is OK.
2. When a radio is received, an extra battery should be obtained if
   possible. Single use (not rechargeable) alkaline battery packs
   should be used whenever possible.
3. Before leaving, set up a schedule for periodic team check in.  For
   missions expected to last less than four hours, one radio in a team
   is left on receive continuously.  On longer missions, agree upon a
   time schedule when teams will turn on a radio and check in.
4. Normally there is only one radio operator per team.  Even if a team
   has more than one radio, only one should be on at a time.  The team
   radio operator always speaks only for the team leader.  Otherwise
   confusion about team status may result.

During a mission, each JSAR team is assigned a tactical callsign , e.g.
"Base camp", "Team 2", "Relay 1". Avoid using personal names or 
FCC callsigns.  Tactical callsigns are used even on amateur radio
frequencies.  FCC callsigns are used only as legally required, at the
end of each communication (not each transmission) and every ten minutes
during a long communication.

1. A radio usually has Volume, Squelch and Channel knobs.  The Volume
   control usually turns on the radio.  The Squelch should be adjusted
   just beyond the point where static is silenced.
2. Keep the antenna vertical and away from metallic objects.  Hold the
   antenna as high as possible and between you and your destination.
   Hold the microphone several inches away from your mouth.  Speak
   sideways across the mike, not directly into it.
3. VHF radio transmission can vary greatly depending upon location. If
   transmission is poor, trying moving a few feet.  Keep trying a
   variety of nearby locations.  Try improving the radio's ground  by
   holding the metal handle or case against your cheek, a metal pack
   frame or a sheet of aluminum foil.
   SAR radios operate best on a clear line-of-sight.  Transmission can
   be difficult from the bottom of a canyon.  You may have to climb up
   a ridge in order to get a better line-of-sight.
4. If your destination does not respond, ask for a relay from another
   station.  Sometimes in order to improve communication, a permanent
   relay may be stationed at a high point with line-of-sight to teams
   and base camp. When operating with a relay wait for the relay
   station to confirm that your message was delivered and understood.
5. If communication is difficult, repeat back the message you heard
   and have the sender confirm that it is correct.  Compose short and
   concise messages before sending.
6. Operate away from groups of people to avoid background chatter and
   signal absorption.
7. Wait before replying.  Then press the Push-to-Talk button for a
   second before talking.  Let the destination hear your first word.
8. Speak slowly with a firm voice.  Enunciate well, but don't shout,
   even in a noisy environment.
9. Relax before sending your message, don't rush.  Let your
   destination understand the message the first time.
10.Use 24 hour (military) local time.  Noon is 1200, midnight is 2400.
   One minute after midnight is 0001.
11.Periodically check the radio to see that it is turned on and still
   on the correct channel.  Turn down the squelch and verify that
   static  is heard.  If a radio needs to be turned off to conserve
   battery power, set up a schedule for regular check in.  Try to keep
   radios dry.  Put the radio in a plastic bag in wet conditions.
12.During a mission, teams should check in with a position report to
   base camp or the EOC at least once an hour or whenever a position is
13.Weak radio batteries may have to be warmed up in a pocket or
   sleeping bag.  Batteries may also recover somewhat after several
   hours rest.
14.Some radios may have low/high power controls.  Use low power to
   conserve battery power unless high power is required for clear

If you have an urgent message, you may have to break into a
communication. If your signal is weaker than the other parties, you
will have to wait for a pause in their communication.  Wait for a
pause and then quickly say "BREAK" or "BREAK BREAK" before the next
party starts talking. Parties in a communication must allow several
seconds before replying in order to allow interruptions for urgent
or emergency messages.  If a break is heard, the replying party says
"Go ahead break".

If your message cannot be understood due to poor transmission, you may
be asked to reply to questions via Push-to-Talk button clicks.
1 click	 - Negative
2 clicks - Affirmative
3 clicks - I require assistance
4 clicks - I have an emergency

Pro-words are radio communication action words. They are a shorthand
used for clear and concise communication.
Affirmative - Yes
Break, Break-Break - Used to interrupt a communication in progress.
Break-break - Also indicates an emergency.
Clear - End of communication and continuing to monitor this channel
        (frequency).  No answer is expected.
Correction - The previous communication was incorrect.  Follow with the
             correct information.
Decimal - Decimal point (in a number).
Go ahead - Send the next part of your message.
How copy? - Do you understand my communication?
I say again - I will repeat my last words (message).
Monitoring - Will continue to listen to this channel (frequency).
Negative - No
Off the air - No longer monitoring this channel.
Over - End of transmission, please reply.
Ready to copy? - Are you ready to copy my message?
Received - Message received correctly.  Does not imply compliance or
           that the intent of the message was understood.
Relay - Send a received message to another station.
Roger - OK, understood, will comply.
Say again - Repeat the last communication.
Speak slower - From now on, speak at a slower pace.
Spelled - The previous word will be spelled letter by letter, often
          using the phonetic alphabet.
Standby - Wait for further communication.  Do not transmit until
Standing by - Waiting for further communication.
This is (call) - Identify yourself with your tactical callsign.
Understood - Message received and understood.
             Does not imply compliance.
Will comply - Will comply with instructions.


Frequency	Offset	PL Tone	Callsign	Usable area
145.150 MHz	-600 KHz	114.8	K7RBT	NE Jefferson County
146.880 MHz	-600 KHz	None	K7PF	East Jefferson County
442.425 MHz	+5 MHz	103.5	K7CHV	North Jefferson County
444.300 MHz	+5 MHz	103.5	WA7WKT	SE Jefferson County

146.520 MHz	simplex calling frequency
146.460 MHz
146.550 MHz
146.580 MHz
446.000 MHz	alternate simplex calling frequency

8,987 KHz	WA state emergency traffic

Page written by: Phil Keys KJ7ET,, page edited and posted by: Phil Meany KC7EXN,

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This page last updated 28 January 1998