Two-Way Radio for Your Retreat by Tunnel Rabbit for Survival Blog
Around here, in this part of the American Redoubt, everybody and their brother, including Bubba and the Back Woods Boys, may have access to a Baofeng, or an older dusty radio transceiver unit sitting in a box somewhere that was pulled out of their retired logging rig. It could be CB, or VHF, or a Baofeng. I know, because for years ‘we’ have promoted their use, and program radios for whomsoever will buy one. Who knows what’ll happen, so I’ll program it for free, just so they’ll have it for a’ rainy’ day. Push-to-talk radio may tie a small community together in times of crisis. They can at least hear what happening on the Ham Bands, on USFS fire frequencies, other emergency services, and disaster relief frequencies. And at the least, they can talk on MURS, FRS, or CB. In case of fire, evacuation or prevention is always in mind when you live in a fire-prone area like Noorthwestern Montana. Radio from the logging days, radio to cover vast areas without cell phone coverage, radio for situational awareness during fire season, makes radio relevant to this day, even with the diminished popularity of CB and ham radio,
Still, if one frequents their happy hunting grounds, or is just out in the boonies cutting wood and getting stranded, or wants to avoid getting run over by a logging truck on a narrow USFS road, or avoid being trapped by a wildfire, then these are risks that a transceiver might mitigate.
Here’s an example: The recent big fire in that burnt out swaths of the Kootenai National Forest and parts of an Amish community on the Canadian border. The result was an increase in a sense of community, and the desire to monitor emergency services, especially frequencies used for firefirghting. It pays to pay attention! With the proliferation of the inexpensive Chinese radios, and current general sense for the need, there is generally speaking, a higher concentration of radio ownership as a result, not including the amateur radio ranks that have swelled. And the high number of government employees and volunteer groups add even more to the count.
However, even though very inexpensive radios have been available during the recent decade, in these parts, the bands are still quiet. With only a few notable frequencies, it is otherwise mostly dead air out there. For the majority of noobies with a Tech license, their radio just sits in a box, unused. So: radios, radios everywhere, but not peep. The smart phone is smarter, and burning up bandwidth is all the rage–at least in the areas that are inside of cellular coverage.
RADIO SKILLS ARE PERISHABLE
All skills are perishable. Once, far away and long ago, I was a fresh police dispatcher. But I would not expect myself to fair well today if thrust into a police dispatcher job on a hot and heavy day in the Big City. On day one, I’d surely be overwhelmed. A complete and utter failure to communicate would tragically occur. In the Big City, it can be a war zone on the air. You are managing a battlefield, coordinating the troops on the ground. A 94-pound female can command the airwaves giving permission for a potty break, or assigning an ‘adhoc’ force to a incident, while Watch Commander sips coffee reviewing reports. The Dispatcher is In Charge. Only Air Traffic Controllers can handle more. At least I’ve been there, and those techniques and procedures would eventually come back. Simply listening to huge amounts of high speed and concentrated voice communication of jargon and brevity code, to pick out from the deluge of non-stop emergency traffic, remembering the most relevant information, processing that, and combining new information and directions for dissemination, is a skill that can only be developed lots of time actively listening. And we haven’t even got to the speaking part yet. Fortunately for the purposes of retreat security, the skill level needed is near zero in comparison, yet most will not be comfortable, because push to talk radio is not a cell phone. Roger that?