The Etiquette of Two-Way Radio Communication

These days almost everyone is, ‘connected’ via a portable device mobile phone etc. with essentially, disorder being the rule of no rules. There is, however, an important exception for and that’s the rules concerning two- way radio communication.

An array of businesses and organisations trust heavily on two-way radio communication to carry out their day to day functions: military, construction, security, engineering and the emergency services, for example, helping create a safer public or work space.

Meaning should communications be misunderstood, i.e. because they are ambiguous, or close to alternative words, it could result in a disaster, injury or loss of life. This is exactly the reason communication via two-way should have clarity and make a point.

Here are some tips to achieve this:

  1. Think before you speak.
  • What message or information data do you need to relay before making a radio call.
  • Identify for everyone else on the network, who your message is intended for.
  • Identify yourself at the outset of a call.

For example: “Bravo 1, this is Echo 7…”

Be professional. No matter how tempting, don’t try to recreate a scene from your favourite film.

Keep your message concise and to the point.

  1. Don’t block the channel

A two-way radio is for sending and receiving important messages; not for small talk or gossip (that’s what phones or Facebook is for)

Keep your message concise and to the point.

  1. Press, Pause, Speak.

Press, count (silently); one thousand, two thousand and then speak, so your receiver never miss the beginning of a message. Imagine this, ‘stop’ instead of ‘don’t stop’ scenario.

If you have multiple points to make, say “break”… wait a couple of seconds…then make your next point etc. With a couple of seconds pause after every point by saying “break”, this allows the other party to speak if they must and then repeat the first action: Press, Count, Speak


When you have finished speaking and want the receiver to reply the term, “over” is used to indicate that you are finished and so the other party may now respond.

Affirm and negative:

Instead of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ use affirm and negative (shorten affirmative to affirm to avoid ‘cut off’ confusion as both words end in ‘-tive’.

Imagine this scenario:

“Echo 1, this is Echo 7, don’t you have enough fuel to make the field?”

“Yes, we don’t” (have enough fuel) or No, we don’t.

Terminating Radio Communication (Radio Transmission):

End a radio call by saying simply, “out”.

It is usual for the person starting the call to end it. Although, the senior person in the call hierarchy may sometimes take charge and would assume responsibility for managing and ending a cal.

The moment “out” is communicated – nothing else should be said.

Emergency interruption:

Emergency drills must be known to all radio users.

Some systems give you a specific emergency button, however, some do not. If there is an emergency and you need to interrupt a call, say calmly and clearly, “emergency, emergency, emergency”, giving everyone involved a brief description if needed.

The Phonetic Alphabet

Any misunderstandings can create mayhem and can lead to dangerous situations, injury or death, no wants the apocryphal, “Send reinforcements were going to advance across” coming across as “Send three and four-pence were going to a dance”. Sometimes it’s imperative to use the Phonetic Alphabet.

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Follow the KISS rules: keep it simple, be precise, sustain correct radio procedure for your group.

If you’d like to learn more about how your company can benefit from simple advice and training, please contact a member of our team today.