Radio 101: Operating Two-Way Radios Every Day and in Emergencies

July 10, 2013

When-all-else-fails-amateur-radioTwo-way radio communication may seem like a thing of the past with smart phones and the availability of more advanced technology. However, with the recent frequency of natural disasters, storms, and other emergency situations, more attention is being paid to radios as a reliable form of communication and a possible back-up communication option, including amateur radio operators.

Image courtesy: Decatur County Amateur Radio Club

For example, the Times of India reports that the recent monsoon flooding disaster in the northern India state of Uttarakhand in July 2013 has prompted officials in other flood-prone regions to establish Amateur Radio facilities to provide emergency communication.

What are two-way radios and how do they work?

Two-way-radioImage: Amateur radio equipment. Image courtesy of the American Radio Relay League.

According to Wikipedia,

A two-way radio is a radio that can both transmit and receive (a transceiver), unlike a broadcast receiver which only receives content. A two-way radio (transceiver) allows the operator to have a conversation with other similar radios operating on the same radio frequency (channel).

Two-way radios are available in mobile, stationary base and hand-held portable configurations. Hand-held radios are often called walkie-talkies or handie-talkies.

Radio 101

9780160910012A recent training publication produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health called Radio 101: Operating Two-Way Radios Every Day and in Emergencies provides training materials on how to operate two-way radios. Included are an instructor’s guide, a DVD with a power point presentation and a student handbook. These training materials practice what they preach, in that they are brief, straightforward and concise– just as two-way radio conversations need to be.

While many of the scenarios used throughout the training materials apply to miners and situations where miners would need to use two-way radios, the information is generic enough that it is applicable to any emergency.

Two-way Tips

The information provided in the training materials seems like common sense, but there are a few important tips to consider when using two-way radio communication in an emergency situation:

  • Less is more. Be brief and efficient; know what you are going to say before using the radio so you do not tie up the channel while you are thinking of what to say.
  • Don’t mind your manners.  It is not necessary to be polite, saying “please” and “thank you.”
  • Repetition rocks. Repeat back information you receive to confirm that you heard the correct information.
  • No privacy policy. Be aware that conversations are not private on these open channels and may be heard by others picking up your frequency. However, this downside is a big plus in emergency broadcasts and SOS situations where the operator wants as many people possible to be listening in to be able to pick up and relay his message.

License to Help

To operate an amateur two-way radio in the United States requires taking a test and obtaining a license from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio (also called ham radio with operators being called “hams”) in the US and “provides hams and non-hams the resources to learn, get licensed, and help others on the air.

Amateur-Radio-Emergency-ServiceAlready have your amateur radio license and want to help your community? Check out the ARRL’s Public Service page for training, resources, manuals and more. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.

Recently, the American Radio Relay League hosted their national Field Day where amateur radio clubs across the country gathered locally to test their radio equipment and practice communication strategies in the event of an emergency. Learn more about Field Day.

Rules of the Radio

Together with the Radio 101 training guide, two-way radio operators who want to learn the “rules of the radio” often buy the latest United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (shown below). This poster shows through color codes the parts of the radio spectrum that are allocated to each type of radio service, including amateur (ham) radio, commercial radio and television broadcasting, radio navigation, mobile, satellite, and others.

9780160908958Finally, the definitive sources of radio regulations, frequencies and procedures can be found in the Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 (FCC Rules and Regulations).

It is important to be prepared in any situation and not rely on only one form of communication. Thus, it is comforting to know that amateur radio operators are working on behalf of their communities to help during emergency situations.

HOW DO I OBTAIN these radio-related publications?

About the Authors: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. Additional content was provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram, Promotions & eCommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division.


Glad Dad: Best Books and Sites for Fathers

June 11, 2013

Fathers-day-in-multiple-languagesMany of our personal characteristics, such as where we are born, the color of our eyes, our native language—are due to luck. If we get good parents, this is due to luck, too. When we become parents ourselves, though, we need to rely on our own hard work. Being a parent is the happiest and hardest job I’ve ever had, and I know many people say the same. Any help you can get with that job, whether it is from your own parents, friends, your child’s teachers, parents of your child’s friends, is welcome. As the African proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child.

Image: How do you say Father? Source: Craftionary

The Federal government wants to be part of that village, and provide parents with any assistance it can give. And with Father’s Day this Sunday, the Government Printing Office wants to highlight these terrific Federal publications and websites to help Dads be all they can be. Whether he’s called Papi, Papa, Pop, Baba, Daddy, Da, Abbu or just plain Dad, celebrate the fathers– and father figures– you know by sharing these resources with them.

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Fatherhood.gov Despicable Me National Responsible Fatherhood ClearinghouseThe Government supports fathers in many ways; one of them is through the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse at Fatherhood.gov. Dads can check out this site to find fatherhood programs and resources, connect with mentors, read the latest blog posting on DadTalk, and take the Fatherhood Pledge.

Eleven Federal partners are involved in the Responsible Fatherhood Working Group: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Veterans Affairs, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The level of Federal investment shows how seriously the President and the Federal Government takes this initiative. Another way to reap the benefits of Federal support of fathers is to read Federal government publications prepared in support of responsible fatherhood.

Promoting Responsible Fatherhood

Hero poster for FatherhoodFirst.org Promoting Responsible Fatherhood: Every Father Taking Responsibility for His Child’s Intellectual, Emotional, and Financial Well-Being discusses the various programs and initiatives that President Obama has been promoting as part of his Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, including the Head Start-sponsored Fatherhood First program (see poster on the left).

President Obama believes in the importance of fatherhood, as he said in 2009:

“I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill” (p. 2).

To keep that void from opening, the Federal Government has started the aforementioned initiative, and the president has asked for Federal budget support for the Child Support Enforcement Program and to sustain funding for the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants.

President Obama playing with daughters and new dog BoThis book discusses these and similar Federal Government programs started and/or supported by the Obama Administration, and what the programs have done to help fathers and their families.

Image: President Obama playing with his daughters Sasha and Malia along with then-new (and rambunctious) dog, Bo, on the White House lawn. Source: The White House

This volume is mostly a high-level program summary of interest to policy wonks, public policy workers, social workers, local government officials and students of those disciplines. However, the general public can also glean information about what resources they can get from the Federal Government to assist their families.

At the document’s end, there’s a list of things fathers, individuals, NGOs and places of worship can do to support fatherhood in their own communities as well. The document’s authors try to show how the Federal government stretches out a hand, but it ends on a note of helping oneself, much like the next volume.

Download an electronic copy of Promoting Responsible Fatherhood: Every Father Taking Responsibility for His Child’s Intellectual, Emotional, and Financial Well-Being for FREE from GPO. 

Dad’s Play Book: Coaching Kids to Read

Dad’s Play Book: Coaching Kids to ReadDad’s Play Book: Coaching Kids to Read is geared to get dads to help their kids to read, using case studies and helpful tips. The writers use two of the most important behavior modification tools at their disposal: we all want to be like our peers (hence the case studies) and men love sports (hence the extended coaching metaphor). Twenty dads are profiled on how they are helping their kids learn to read, giving their names, photos, occupations and ages, so they’re more relatable to readers.

The middle pages cover five skills that children need to have mastered to be readers by third grade; everyone who has responsibility for a pre-K through 3rd grade child should be taking some time to study this cheat sheet. Each tip has a paragraph subtitled, How Can a Dad Help? that gives specific suggestions for a dad to improve reading—for example, with fluency. This title is short but sweet; there’s a lot more to know about helping a child learn to read, but this friendly, picture-filled piece is definitely worth the time it takes not only to read it, but to study it and employ in your life as well.

You can either


How can I find these publications: Promoting Responsible Fatherhood: Every Father Taking Responsibility for His Child’s Intellectual, Emotional, and Financial Well-Being and Dad’s Play Book: Coaching Kids to Read?

About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article was adapted by Government Book Talk Editor, Michele Bartram, GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, from an original  post on the FDLP Community site blog by Ms. Davis.)


Exporting Made Simple

October 2, 2012

Guest blogger, GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz, reviews the newly revised edition of the best-selling publication on exporting for U.S. businesses.

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) entered the eBook market through an agreement with Google in December of 2010. Since that time, GPO has expanded its eBook distribution partnerships to include Apple, Google, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Ingram, Zinio digital magazines, and other online vendors to make Federal titles available in digital magazine or eBook format.

One popular title that is available in eBook format through many of our vendors as well as in print format is the 10th Edition Revised “A Basic Guide to Exporting”, a publication by the Department of Commerce. This publication supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which brings together the efforts of the public and private sector to increase U.S. exports. According to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, 95 percent of the world’s consumers exist outside of the United States, and only 1 percent of the U.S.’s 30 million companies export their goods to these other markets.

A Basic Guide to Exporting is a how-to guide for small and medium-sized business to export their products. The publication is broken down into 17 chapters with each chapter focusing on one step of the exporting process from determining if exporting is right for your business to placing your products in foreign markets. The book defines export-related terminology so each topic is clear. Many questions are asked forcing the reader to assess each topic and thoroughly evaluate if exporting will work for them.

The book is also motivational; each chapter ends with a case study or profile of a successful company reflecting on their export experience identifying challenges, solutions, and lessons learned.

The book does not provide all of the answers, but serves as a central resource for how to export. There are many Government agencies, trade centers and associations, financial institutions, and seminars that exist and are available to give advice and guide companies. The publication lists each of these resources, explains their services and how they can be helpful, and provides website links and phone numbers for contacting each resource.

Forms are often a complicated part of any process – including exporting – and this publication is very helpful with forms. When referencing forms that may need to be filled out, the book includes a picture of the form and explains how to fill it out item by item. This book is the Government’s version of “Exporting Made Simple.”

A Basic Guide to Exporting is usable in eBook format because the information is broken down and well-organized making it easy to navigate on any mobile device or eReader. The eBook format is helpful because there are websites listed for outside resources and the reader can click on the websites and directly access the resource’s web page.

Regardless of what format is used to read this publication, A Basic Guide to Exporting is excellent guide for small and medium sized companies interested in learning how to export their products.

Other popular export-related Federal publications including a subscription to the latest regulations concerning import/ export can be found on our Essential Publications about Exporting collection.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “A Basic Guide to Exporting”?

  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

Librarians Pick Notable Federal Books- 2012 Edition

July 3, 2012

It’s that exciting time of year again if you’re a publisher of Federal publications. It’s the equivalent of the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards or the Grammy Awards… Well, maybe that’s pushing it, but when the American Library Association’s (ALA) Government Documents Round Table or GODORT convenes the Notable Documents Panel of its Publications Committee to choose the top government-produced publications of the previous year, we can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

Each year, this ALA GODORT Notable Documents Panel selects what it considers to be the most “Notable Government Documents” published during the previous year by Federal, state, and local governments and includes the list of winners in its prestigious Library Journal (LJ).

According to its website, Library Journal is “the most trusted and respected publication for the library community. LJ provides groundbreaking features and analytical news reports covering technology, management, policy and other professional concerns to public, academic and institutional libraries. Its hefty reviews sections evaluate 8000+ reviews annually of books, ebooks, audiobooks, videos/DVDs, databases, systems and websites.

This year, as usual, many of the Federal publications the panel selected are available through the Government Printing Office’s Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries and GPO’s Sales Program.

Out of all of the Federal Government documents LJ looked at in the past year, here are some of those it found most notable:

  Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation

Publisher: Government Printing Office (GPO)

GPO’s own role in producing excellent Government publications in its 150 years of history gained it a place on the GODORT list for the past year:“Liberally illustrated with historical photographs and facsimiles of famous government documents, this volume will appeal to a wider audience than depository librarians. Historians and history buffs who have an interest in government and how it interacts with both the private sector and public employee unions will find a compelling story that focuses on the federal government’s obligation to keep citizens informed about its activities.” – LJ

  Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Hardcover)

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Paperback)

Publisher: Commerce Department, U.S. Census Bureau

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the standard summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It is designed to serve as a convenient volume for statistical reference and as a guide to other statistical publications and sources. The latter function is served by the introductory text to each section, the source note appearing below each table, and Appendix I, which comprises the Guide to Sources of Statistics, the Guide to State Statistical Abstracts, and the Guide to Foreign Statistical Abstracts.

The Library Journal adds an important update about this: “In addition to being the quintessential statistical resource of all time, Statistical Abstract is a Notable Document for 2011 simply because this edition will be the last produced by the Census Bureau and distributed through FDLP. Future editions will be published commercially, so librarians will still have options for maintaining the continuity of their print collections. A classic reference tool.” – LJ

  Macondo: The Gulf Oil Disaster. Chief Counsel’s Report 2011

Publisher: National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

“The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was created by President Obama and charged with investigating the root causes of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The committee concluded that the cause of the blowout was not mechanical. Instead, a number of poor management decisions, combined with an inadequate regulatory structure and an indifferent regulatory agency, overwhelmed the safeguards designed to prevent such disasters. Plenty of illustrations and photographs offer a glimpse into the technology of offshore oil rigs.” – LJ

  Then Came the Fire: Personal Accounts From the Pentagon, 11 September 2001

Publisher: Defense Dept., Army, Center of Military History

“In 2011, there were many publications designed to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. In addition to the 59 people aboard the flight that struck the Pentagon, 125 people in the Pentagon were killed. The editors of this memorial volume have collected the stories of eyewitnesses, including the military and civilian personnel who escaped the burning building and first responders and reporters at the scene. It also includes hundreds of photographs.”- LJ

  Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867

Publisher: Defense Dept., Army, Center of Military History“

In what may be the definitive operational history of black troops in action during the Civil War, [author] Dobak describes the differences in how freedmen and runaway slaves were recruited, how they lived, and how they were trained. Most important, it considers how gallantly these men performed in combat at a time when many of their own leaders questioned whether they would be willing to fight for their own freedom and for that of their families. Much of the documentation comes from the ‘War of the Rebellion’ series.” – LJ

  Legacy of Excellence: The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology 1862-2011 

Publisher: Defense Dept., Army, US Army Medical Department Center and Schoo1, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Public Affairs Office, Borden Institute

“In 1862, shortly after the Battle of Antietam, army surgeon general Brigadier Gen. William Hammond ordered the establishment of the Army Medical Museum. Surgeons working on Civil War battlefields were encouraged to preserve anatomical specimens, such as severed limbs and diseased organs, and send them to the museum for further research. From the start, the museum made its displays of specimens and instruments, as well as its medical library, available to the general public. Under the leadership of later curators, such as John Billings and Walter Reed, the museum evolved into the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Readers interested in the history of science, especially medical science or in the devastating effects of Civil War weaponry on the human body, will be fascinated by the hundreds of graphic photographs.” – LJ

And a hearty congratulations to all the winning Federal agency publishers for an excellent job!

How can you get these publications from this year’s Federal Notable Government Documents collection?

  • Buy any of these publications online 24/7 by shopping the Notable Government Documents 2012 collection at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy them at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find these publications in a library near you.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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