Communication Part 4

How Do We Use Our Radios In A Cohesive and Efficient Manner Once They Are the Only Form of Communicating

By Teri Simpson


You have your neighborhood group. You’ve been meeting on a fairly regular basis so you know each other, how to contact each other and you’ve run a couple of tests to iron out the kinks in your phone calling circle. How long did it take to get one message to every member and have the originating person who initiated the test get a call from the last person? Did you improve on your time during your second trial run?

What? You haven’t gotten that far yet? Or maybe it just seems “kinda dumb” or you’d feel “kinda funny” doing a trial run of a calling circle? It is a hugely telling exercise and well worth the effort. If you won’t do that, what else won’t you do?

Here’s the thing: all of this is out of your regular “box”, out of your comfort zone, for most people anyway. So we can’t let our personality decide what to do, we have to use our Observer. Exercises like this can have a tendency to bring up fear in the personality – to the personality, getting a CB or Ham radio means no regular phones and no cell phones. To the personality this equals “scary” or “bad”, so the ever-helpful (not!) personality will try to get you to postpone taking any action along these lines so it doesn’t have to look at “scary” or “bad”. So we have to just observe what the personality does with this info, and then use our Observer to decide our course of action.

OK, so let’s say that there is one person in your immediate neighborhood group that has gotten a 10 meter (ham/shortwave radio), which they’ve had tweaked so it will function as a SSB CB radio, and there are a few members in your group that have SSB CBs. Picture that this group, whether is it a group of folks along a certain road, or in a 1-1.5 mile radius, is a circle on a map with the ham radio as the center of the circle.

There will be adjacent circles of people, each with at least one person with a stronger radio than the others need (it is OK if several people have the more powerful radios, but it is good if at least one does). It doesn’t need to be WAY stronger; it just needs to be able to talk to the radio team leads of the adjacent circles.

There will be people with very robust ham radios who have gotten their ham radio licenses who can talk on the shortwave/ham radio bands – others can listen but not participate in the conversations. They will also be able to communicate with other radio team leads from quite a distance away (on CB and shortwave).

What we decided to do back after 9/11 should we be without conventional communications is to all turn on our radios at about 10 till 6 (pm). Then, in the same order as the calling circle list (hello! Here it is again – you don’t want to be the clueless one now do you?), we would do a brief “check in”: This is Sally & Bob, we’re fine here. This is Beth W, I’m good. This is Sue & Tom and we had a tree go down in last night’s windstorm and need someone with a chain saw help to clear our drive. This is Ted, we’re right here, mate (he’s from Australia ;o) And so on, until all have checked in.

If someone hasn’t checked in the person tracking the check in will ask “Does anyone know about Lisa M?” And her immediate neighbor can say that she knows that Lisa rode over to her friend’s for 3 days and will be home Sunday.

After the Check In, the person tracking the peoples’ check will ask “Who can go help Sue & Tom with that tree?” People volunteer, and Sue & Tom are taken care of.

Anything else? This is where Sally can say “Hey, Beth, Sally, meet me over on channel 39 – I have some canning questions”. This way they can go chat in private, and everyone else can log off for the day.

Now, let’s say you’ve had an intruder break into your home and they are holding you hostage against your will. You tell them that you absolutely HAVE to check in at 6pm or the neighbors will become suspicious. So the intruder says “OK, but NO funny stuff or I’ll hurt you! Grrr!” You agree to not say any funny stuff.

This is where you are very happy that your group has come up with a secret code phrase which is NEVER EVER discussed over the radio! Because if who you are talking to can hear you, then so can bad guys who might be listening in – and I am not talking government conspiracy here. I am talking unsavory locals that are up to no good. (and this is nothing against locals – they are just the only ones near enough to mess with you.)

The phrase you pick should be short, in keeping with the other short phrases that people are saying to indicate that they are OK, but it must be a short phrase indicating you are OK that is ONLY used if you and your life are in peril. It is the signal to all your neighbors that you are in dire straits (great name for a band) and you need their help desperately. I would give examples but not in a public forum like this.

Everyone finishes up the entire Check In routine as usual. No one can switch to another channel to discuss this because the intruder might flip around channels because he thinks the radio is a cool toy and he might hear you.

You have to have a plan ahead of time. Then “the rescue team” will set out to rescue you, and rescue you they will. Bad guys don’t expect aware, knowledgeable, trained people coming to rescue their victim. I will talk more about this part a little later – remember what Forrest Gump said: Stupid is as stupid does. A flock of stupid people are not going to sneak up on and overcome a bad guy, no matter how good their intentions. And when I say stupid, I mean people that have had no training in how to do a rescue properly. No training = stupid (in that area). Luckily, that is fixable.

Your ‘Road group’ or ‘neighborhood group’ or ‘local pod’ might be comprised of anywhere from 3 or 4 people to 40 people. In the larger groups, it is good for each household to know the 3 (or so) neighbors to each side of them, because these people will be the First Responders in time of need. These would be the people that could hear me if I stood on my front porch and blew a super loud whistle or rang a brass hand bell. Something that won’t carry a mile away but would over 5 or 10 acres. We’ll be doing some testing on that and I’ll report back to you (I’ve got a couple of wicked powerful whistles, and have to pick up the brass hand bell).

So now, your group has a designated person (or maybe 2) that represent the group members. This is the person that will interface with the designated people from the other groups. Except you don’t have a group yet, or one that is just starting to form. And we don’t have a bunch of other groups yet (and they don’t have their designated people yet).

Because all of this is still in the formative state (somewhat akin to the gelatinous goo of the dreaming caterpillar before it transforms into oriental fans and long black stockings) this is what we need to address now:

Start a neighborhood group, no matter how small. Just start. Now. The fall equinox and Elenin will be here before you know it (Elenin as in Nibiru, Marduk, etc).

Even before you have radios, no matter how unformed your group is, pick the person who is the list maker, the researcher, the communicator and nominate him or her to be the ‘designated person’ (at least for the moment) to interface with the other groups.

Have this person email me, Teri Simpson, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We have a location that we can meet. I would like to get together for a brainstorming session and come up with some ideas and guidelines, as well as start a contact list of the group team leads (ok, no one is higher or lower than anyone else, we just have to call that position something, until we come up with a better name) that we can take back to our respective groups.

If you want to start a group and aren’t sure how to do it, email me. If it seems expedient we can have a meeting for people that want some guidance in starting a group. I can go over the basics, show you how to look stuff up online, etc.

I have a radio but will be getting a beefier one along with a long antenna. I know a few people who have radios that I can contact, so that we can start working on doing some testing. I bet there are others who have the radios whom I don’t know. It would be dandy to them join in as well.

I believe there is someone in Olympia that has a radio but I don’t have any contact info on them. There is also a man that I spoke with after I did a presentation on Neighborhood Communication at the Rainier School back several months ago for the Hour4Hour Time Bank – very knowledgeable about radio communications and electronics – if you read this, call or email me please.

The MastersConnection is going to put the word out to students in other countries. This is exciting. This is way double cool. It is moving into the Unknown (but in a baby-step safe way ;o)

There is a Ham Radio Technician Licensing Class this upcoming weekend June 11 & 12 put on by the Radio Club of Tacoma. You take a 15-20 minute test at the end of the day on Sunday, and Poofa! You can talk on the ham radio legally. While not everyone wants to have a license, some will, and those of us who have it can practice before stuff hits the proverbial fan. The sign up info is at Class Lic just scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Sherry M took the class a couple of weeks ago and got her license. I believe it is $40 for the class, book and handout materials (Sherry said the instructor gives you lots of stuff and he is known to be one of the best instructors around). Then the test is $15.

I am looking forward to hearing from you :-D Let’s ratchet this up a notch and get the ball rolling.

PS Remember the part about Stupid Is As Stupid Does from earlier in the article? And I said I’d address that later? That would mean in another issue of the MastersConnection newsletter. Until then….


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