Re: Nothing short of a plea (Radio communications systems)
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 13:55:20 -0700
Eric, et al,
Since this may be of interest to others on the list, I will respond
We have had good luck renting fm business radios from companies such as
Radio Resource. Look in the yellow pages under radio rentals, they have
offices in many cities throughout the country as do other vendors. If
your main event is only for one day, tell them and they probably will only
charge you for the day you mainly use the radios even if you have them out
over the weekend.
They will usually give you a good rate for a Scouting
event. The FM radios are more reliable and of higher quality than CB
radios, as far as range, battery life, and audibility. They are not
affected by "skip" (as noted below) or other interference problems.
CB's have a major problem
with "skip" where many hundreds or thousands of transmissions on various
CB channels from all over the country "bounce" in off the ionosphere and
may render local communications almost impossible; so they simply are not
reliable in critical situations. Plus, they are low power and not always
well built or reliable.
FM business radios are already licensed on
itinerant business radio channels. Typically we have rented as many as 25
portables and four base stations with up to six different channels for
large event coordination (800 scouts) such as Klondike Derby, or our
Explorer "Mock Disaster" Exercise.
If you can build the rental fee into your budget, or get the cost donated
by a friend of Scouting, you will have very good results with this type of
Sometimes law enforcement, fire, or emergency management agencies can
provide the use of "emergency cache" radios if the event is coordinated by
emergency services/law enforcement explorers that are attached to the
sponsoring organization. However, you have to be careful to only use those
channels for public safety/health communications so the business radio
system is probably your best bet if you can fund it.
(a suggestion, if you have "hilly" terrain or lots of trees, VHF band
radios (150 mHz) work better than UHF band (450 mHz) unless you have a
repeater in a good location.) Also, be sure to get spare batteries for
each radio and issue them so if a battery goes down in the field, the
operator can quickly change batteries and get his radio back in operation.
A spare multi-battery charger is a good idea to keep batteries up and
running especially for a multi-day event. If you don't have a power
supply, consider getting a portable generator to operate your command
center. Several Emergency Services agencies such as Fire Departments or
Emergency Management offices have access to this type of equipment or
vehicles with generators built in.
We typically set up a "command post" in a Recreational Vehicle donated by
one of the parents (although you can use a large tent as well)
We use the Incident Command System (emergency management) and have
dispatchers (Law Enforcement/Emergency Services Explorers and/or Alpha Phi
Omega members) operate the base stations and coordinate various services
such as check-in/check-out of competitions, score-keeping, medical,
trail-rovers, on different channels to keep from interfering with
We also have "talk channels" to let folks in the field coordinate and
communicate directly without interfering with main operations channels.
We keep a "magnetic" status board with labels for each scout patrol/crew
to track the progress of all Scout
Patrols or crews in the competition, and can quickly locate them in case a
leader or parent needs to get in touch with them.
One of the biggest benefits is coordination to minimize "backups" at
various competitions; you can easily re-route patrols/crews to other
competitions which are less congested and minimize the "wait" time, so the
event runs smoothly and ends on time. If someone needs equipment, or
help, it is easily requested and responded to quickly.
Several times we have
had scouts who were on medications that needed to be located by parents or
Scoutmasters quickly, and this was done effectively using the
communications system and command center.
Lost or "misplaced" Scouts are also quickly located by the trail rovers
or by contacting the "station coordinators" to see if anyone has had the
Scout or his Patrol in their station.
Scoring is done by a laptop computer with a spread sheet program such as
Quattro or Excel. Results are quickly tabulated at the end of the
competition for presentation at the awards ceremony and a printout is
available after the event.
I know this may "ruffle the feathers" of folks opposed to "high tech"
stuff in the outdoors, but from a health and safety standpoint where you
are dealing with large numbers of younger Scouts and Webelos, it really
works well. The Scouts and Explorers enjoy working with it and
coordinating the event, so everyone benefits in many ways and it certainly
makes coordination of the event go much more smoothly.
Most of all it may prevent or mitigate serious problems such as injury,
illness, or lost folks.
This is probably a lot more than you need specifically for your event, but
I just thought it might be of interest to others as well.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer post 72, Boulder, CO
On Mon, 31 Mar 1997, Eric Becker wrote:
> As the subject says this is nothing short of a plea. Our camporee is being
> held this weekend on Lake Texoma, At the border of Texas and Oklahoma. We
> are located in Plano Texas (North of Dallas). We were wondering if anyone
> has one or more hanheld C.B. radios that we could use this weekend, or if
> you have a selection of another type of walkie talkie. We would also like to
> know if you know of a source that we could borrow them from for this weekend
> (April 4-6).
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City