Tones over the radio

WuLabsWuTecH

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Does anyone here have tones that are played over the radio that are unique to them before the dispatch goes out?

Right now, we get dispatched by METRO and SUBURB, and for both, we get tones, but there are only 2 that are shared by all 80+ stations in the area. A steady tone indicating a fire run, and an alternating tone indicating an EMS run.

When METRO dispatches us, we just get the tones and the dispatch repeated twice. Usually no one listens past the tones (for stations that have fire and ems the need to know whether to put on turnout gear) since the address and CC will all come over the computer as will the assigned response radio channel.

When SUBURB dispatches us, we get the first dispatch, then the fire/EMS tones, and then depending on the time of day, 2 to 3 repetitions of the original message.

I'm just wondering why you would need a different set of tones for each station. What we have seems to work all right and I don't see the advantage of having 80 sets of tones.
 

zman

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so does that mean that you hear whenever another station gets dispatched through the night and all. The main advantage to having a specific set of tones is that you don't have to listen to everyone else getting dispatched you only have to wait for your tones to drop.
 

WuLabsWuTecH

Forum Deputy Chief
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i'm not talking about private tones that attenuates your radio to strat receiving the trunked system. I mean the actual audio tones.

And no, we only hear the dispatch when OUR number is being called from METRO. We don't hear the other 80 stations tones. We don't hear them during the day either. If we did, we'd just be listening to tones all day.

And SUBURB currently does not have the ability to give us our own dispatch when our numbers are called but only 4 stations share the same dispatch TG for SUBURB and chances are if one of them is going we are too. But they only have about 6 calls a day on that TG so its not that big of a deal to hear the tones, not hear our number, and roll back over. What IS obnoxious is when the dispatcher doesn't assign them an EMS channel and their radio traffic all comes over the dispatch frequency and then we have to hear them making in service, on scene, responding, at hospital, for the next half hour.

When you have specific tones, even in the SUBURB setup, you still have to get up and listen for your tones. Is it any different than listening for your number?

Actually I'm confused now. Do you hear everyone's dispatches or only your own? (as in is it more like my METRO's setup or more like my SUBURB's setup?)
 

nomofica

Forum Asst. Chief
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We have 2 tones.

Alternating tone is for FD, long/straight tone is for EMS, followed by vehicle type and number (ex Ladder 7, Pump 9, Rescue 2, EMS rig number, etc).
 

MrRevesz

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As of now we share our frequency with the PD. If we leave a radio open vs. only announce when tones drop, we'll hear everything going on. If it's set to tones only, we won't hear anything until we get the alert of a call. This is possibly changing in the near future though where instead of our own dedicated dispatch, we'll be dispatched by the county which again, unless we have our radios set to alert only, we'll be hearing everyones tones and dispatch.


But in relation to your system, our medics have a similar set up. They're dispatched by "Med Central" which when dispatching, everyone on the freq hears each others tones and similar.
 
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WuLabsWuTecH

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So then that goes back to my first question, of if everybody is hearing everybody else, why do we need tones?

Or if you are only hearing your tones, why do you need them since you're the only ones hearing the dispatch message!?
 

MrRevesz

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I see what you're getting at. I suppose in the daytime hours if dispatch just called your unit number and what not, it wouldn't be a problem. Night time could be a problem though. I think ultimately, the tones are to just grab attention so you can listen in and see if you're being called out, or to set off a louder alert at night to wake you up before the message is broadcasted.
 

WuLabsWuTecH

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Yeah. I agree that the tones are there to get your attention, but why use different tones?

It imght make sense to have different tones for different units (Medics get one tone, Engines get tone 2, rescues get tone 3, etc) but my understanding is the tones are unique to each station and not each unit which further confuses me.

Maybe like I said it's because my area has computers now and no one really listens to the dispatch message. I got up the other night and was in the truck and we were on our way before I realized I had no idea where we were going or what we were going to and had to ask my partners up front what was going on and what chennel to tune my radio to. (although turns out, dispatch had no idea either. Just an address and "unknown emergency")
 

marineman

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I guess I have no clue how your system works but our system the different tone frequencies are what open the radios at corresponding stations. The only way my radio will open is if my tones go off prior to my unit being dispatched.

We actually have 2 different dispatch systems though, as a private company the county puts the call out to our dispatch then our dispatch puts it out to us. During the day the radios are always open so we don't use our private tones but the county still uses tones that clue us in as to what area of the county it's in and also those tones page out the appropriate first responder unit. We only close our radios after 2300 then we start using our private tones to dispatch calls so we don't hear everyone else in the middle of the night.
 

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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I think I understand what you're saying.

If I've got this right, on your "Announce Talkgroup", the dispatcher will play either a WARBLE tone or a single tone to get your attention before giving the call specifics, i.e.: address, type of call and radio talkgroup to use.

Here's how it works in Seattle. The Locution CAD (computerized dispatch system) sends an alpha page to the crew that is being dispatched. This info also goes to the unit MDT and the computer in the station.

As that info is going out, on the "Dispatch Talkgroup", the CAD system plays a tone and gives the information over the radio. There is also an intercom that plays the tone and gives the information out in the station that is responding.

Make sense? The only time you need to listen to the dispatch TG on radio is when you're out of quarters or you want to know where everyone else is going.

This tone lets people know it's a FIRE response: TONE 1
This is the EMS/Aid/Medic Response tone: TONE 2

Here's a little PDF to explain it: http://www.eastsidecomm.org/pdf/FAQ 070201.pdf
 

Seaglass

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I have no idea how it all works, but at one place, we get one set of tones for fire and a different one for EMS. They're unique to each station, but we only hear our own tones. However, we do hear general traffic for the whole county including PD during the day, so the tones let us know when it's directed at us. It's easy to miss a number, since the general chatter becomes background noise after awhile. It's not easy to miss the tones. At night, they're also what wake us up, and we only hear our own calls. After the system once malfunctioned and we heard everyone's tones for a day or so, I was glad we had unique ones.

At another place, we're EMS-only and only have a few people on at a time, so we just get one set of tones. More like a single earsplitting tone from hell, actually. We only hear dispatch and our own radio traffic.
 

MrBrown

Forum Deputy Chief
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We use a VHF SELCAL network linked between the EACC (Dispatch), vehicles, pagers, MDTs and portable radios.

The SELCAL tones are unique to each radio but are generally not heard on the radio channel although they sometimes are.

They are used to update our status in the CAD system but I think this is slowly being made redundant as the MDTs take over.

Our station tones go off for all emergency (priority 1) jobs, they sound like a UK ambo about to die :p
 

WuLabsWuTecH

Forum Deputy Chief
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Ok, I think i'm getting it now. For those of you who have tones that are specific to you, the tones are what turns on the radio. For people like me and n7lexi, who have radios that know when to turn on in other ways, we don't need the tones.

And yes, we have 1 main dispatch TG (and about 10 sub dispatch TGs for when the main one gets busy) that most dispatches come over. A few dispatches come over one of the other TGs only which is why we have to carry 2 radios... It's actually kinda annoying.
 

zman

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think about this though. if you work for a volly station which fall under a regional dispatch center and you have to listen to a scanner then you only have to listen out for your tones. thats also how pagers are programmed they listen out for your stations tones and then alert you. if everyone has the same tones then it would be going off all the time but by having individual tones for each station it allows the pager only to vibrate if your station gets a call.
-z

ps. it sounds like the system your talking about is a trunking system vs an analog system, which probably makes things different to.
 

WuLabsWuTecH

Forum Deputy Chief
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zman, that coule be it. We are trunked on a county wide system. There is a main METRO dispatch but there are also sub dispaches each with their own TG.

Pagers I thought were programmed to listen to a signal though, not the real audio tones you hear...

We all have the same tones, but I only hear my dispatches in my station. On our handheld radios though, we hear everyone's tones.
 

emtjack02

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We are nice and small around here. We are pd on call. When we are dispatched they set off a tone which is two toned(if you are wearing a pager like a minitor V it peeps however it's programmed to). Our department has one tone for both fire and ambualnce (we are a very low vol dept). They seem to be toning twice followed by the dispatch information. Dispatch and scene response is all on the same freq.
 
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