Plain language crisis communications

Radio codes often vary from agency to agency and in a multi-agency crisis response, that can pose serious problems, says IALEFI instructor Don Alwes, Executive Staff Advisor for the National Tactical Officers Association and Team Leader for the Kentucky Community Preparedness Program. The difference can be as dramatic as having 10-4 mean “OK, message received” in one agency and having it represent a distress code in another, as was the case in a Kentucky metropolitan area.


To avoid miscommunication, Alwes recommends having all agencies, including fire and emergency medical, agree ahead of time to default to plain language radio communications in a mass crisis.

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About the author

Charles Remsberg co-founded the original Street Survival Seminar and the Street Survival Newsline, authored three of the best-selling law enforcement training textbooks, and helped produce numerous award-winning training videos. His nearly three decades of work earned him the prestigious O.W. Wilson Award for outstanding contributions to law enforcement and the American Police Hall of Fame Honor Award for distinguished achievement in public service.

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