Bayfield County

Standard Operating Guidelines






A.         PURPOSE


The Standard Operating Guidelines described are designed to be used by Bayfield County emergency services personnel operating communications equipment. 


1.         The contents outline policy and standard operating guidelines to be followed in a variety of situations.  It is obviously impossible to develop procedures for every situation that could arise.  Therefore, in situations not covered by specific instructions, decision made and actions taken must be governed by common sense and judgment on the part of communications personnel.


2.         The need for standardization cannot be overemphasized.  Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) save time, reduce confusion, eliminate error and assist all concerned in providing timely and predictable reactions to emergency situations. 


3.         Some of the specifics that follow pertain to operations of the Communications Center.  This material is included to provide field personnel with knowledge of Communications Center responsibilities and procedures in the interest of improving mutual cooperation and understanding.




It is important that the contents of this publication be up to date at all times. 


1.         Any agency or individual desiring changes which affect emergency communications or which modify, supplement or require action not covered by these guidelines shall forward a written request to the Chief Deputy to be brought forward to the Communications User Advisory Board. 


2.         Changes to policies and procedures will normally be accomplished by publication and distribution of pages to all holders of this publication in advance of the effective date.  When more rapid change is required, notification may be made by other means and followed up with the new manual page.


3.         The Chief Deputy  is responsible for implementing procedure revisions necessary to communications  operations.       





A.                  DISPATCH frequency (154.980 / 153.980) – The Local Government frequency is referred to as DISPATCH.  This Dispatch frequency will be installed as Channel 1 in all fire and ambulance department radios.  This frequency will be used as the dispatch and general operating frequency by all fire and ambulance departments.  All requests from and messages for Dispatch (Communications Center) will be communicated on this frequency. 


1.         Radio to radio communication will not use this frequency unless the repeater is essential to that communication.


2.         Efforts will be made to ensure frequency availability during emergency situations by limiting the number of non-emergency users.  (Example:  school buses, trail groomers, municipalities, etc.)


B.         Bayfield County TRUCK-TO-TRUCK (154.130) – Installed as Channel 2 in Fire and EMS radios.  To be used by all emergency response personnel and agencies as an on-scene command and coordination frequency, on which radio to radio communications should take place.  Radio-to-radio communication may be done on this frequency when the repeater is not needed.  This frequency is not monitored by the Communications Center.  This frequency is the designated by the state of Wisconsin as the county fire frequency.  The primary use of this frequency is for coordination of fire department tactical response.  The Fire Association has made this frequency available to other emergency response agencies to facilitate on scene interagency communications.  


C.        FIRE-COM (154.295) – Installed as Channel 3 in Fire Department radios.  Primarily used by fire departments for interdepartmental communications when mutual aid is utilized, particularly in multi-county responses.  It may be used as a second on-scene frequency on which radio to radio communications take place.  This frequency is the same statewide (nationwide) and is not monitored by the Communications Center.   The primary use of this frequency is for fire department use in a multi-agency response. 


D.        DISPATCH TALK-AROUND (153.980) – This frequency is the non-repeater side of the Dispatch frequency.  It allows a user to monitor all transmissions on the Dispatch frequency without chance of accidentally activating the repeater.  It can be used as an additional   TalkAround/simplex channel when out of the Washburn area, when Dispatch will not hear transmissions.  Labeled as DISP/TA.


E.         ALS 400 (155.400) – Primary use for landing zone coordination with medical helicopters.  Also provides voice contact between an ambulance in the field and a physician at a Duluth medical control hospital.  This frequency is not monitored by the Communications Center and provides an on-scene EMS frequency when landing zone coordination is not required. 


F.         MARC 1 (153.845 /151.280) – Mutual Aid Radio Channel repeater frequency.  Established to provide a common radio frequency to be used throughout Wisconsin as a command and control frequency.  During a major emergency, or to augment day-to-day communications, Wisconsin Emergency Management provides a portable repeater that may be used locally. 


G.        MARC 2 (151.280) – Mutual Aid Radio Channel established to provide a common radio frequency to be used statewide by public safety agencies during periods of man-made or natural disasters and other emergencies where inter-agency coordination is required.  This channel is for on-scene command and coordination and is open to all public safety and municipal agencies, including law enforcement, fire EMS, public works, highway, emergency management, forestry as well as state an federal agencies.  


H.         WISTAC 1 (154.265) – Wisconsin Tactical channel to be used by emergency responders for radio communications at wild land fires and other situations.


I.          WISTAC 2 (154.010) – Wisconsin Tactical channel to be used by emergency responders for radio communications at wild land fires and other situations.


J.         WISTAC 3 (154.130) – Wisconsin Tactical channel to be used by emergency responders for radio communications at wild land fires and other situations.  This frequency is the same as the Bayfield County Truck-to-Truck frequency except for the tones on the transmit side. 


K.         STATE EMS  (155.340) – This frequency is primarily used for ambulance to hospital communications.  Hospital radios are equipped with tone-coded squelch, which allows only ambulances with matching sub-audible tones to open their radio for communication.  Ambulances have the channels of local hospitals programmed into their radios.  This frequency is not monitored by the communications center and provides an on-scene EMS frequency. 


L.         WISPERN (155.475) – Wisconsin Police Emergency Radio Network used for inter-jurisdictional coordination of law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin.  Dispatch monitors this frequency but cannot transmit on it.  WisPERN provides law enforcement an on scene tactical command and control frequency.


M.        POINT TO POINT (155.370) – Used nationwide by law enforcement.  Designed to send messages from one jurisdiction to another, one base to another.  This frequency is monitored by Dispatch. 


N.         LAW (154.710) – Frequency used to coordinate the activities of the Bayfield County Law Enforcement community.  This frequency is designated for law enforcement use only.  Fire and EMS Departments may monitor this frequency.  However, radios are not to be equipped with the transmit capability. 


O.        MUNICIPAL CHANNEL (155.145) – This frequency provides a tactical frequency for use by the jurisdictions within Bayfield County as a coordinating frequency.


P.         The following is the recommended frequency arrangement for fire and ambulance radios:

            Channel 1 – DISP tower (Dispatch and most commonly used tower)

            Channel 2 – BC Trk-Trk (Bayfield County Truck-to-Truck)   

            Channel 3 – FireCOM (Fire common nationwide)

            Channel 4 – DISP T-A (Dispatch Talk Around)

            Channel 5 – ALS 400

            Channel 6 – MARC 1 (Mutual Aid Radio Channel repeater)

            Channel 7 – MARC 2 (Mutual Aid Radio Channel simplex)

            Channel 8 – WISTAC 1 (Wisconsin Tactical Channel 1)

            Channel 9 – WISTAC 2 (Wisconsin Tactical Channel 2)

            Channel 10 – WISTAC 3 (Wisconsin Tactical Channel 3)

            Channel 11 – State EMS (no specific hospital designation)





A.         Standard Procedures should be used for handling messages by radio or telephone.  Use of standard operation guidelines will conserve on-the-air time and permit accurate, brief and rapid transmission of essential information.


B.         The Communications Center will be responsible for handling radio and telephone messages rapidly and for determining order of priority in which transmissions will be made.


C.        A major incident could overload the system (ie. major car accidents, severe weather conditions, large wildland fire, etc.).  There is a definite need at such times for the Dispatcher to maintain strict control over the frequency in order to sort out the priorities and be sure calls are transmitted without delay or interruption.


D.        Under major incident conditions, radio and telephone conditions at the communications center may become heavy enough to prevent immediate answers to radio calls.  When this occurs the communications center may advise the following:


1.         “UNITS STANDBY”.  This statement means the communications center is temporarily unable to answer; do not call again until answered unless you have an emergency.


2.         “ALL UNITS CLEAR THE CHANNEL EXCEPT FOR EMERGENCY TRAFFIC.”  If you have emergency traffic, state your radio identifier and the work “emergency”.  The use of the emergency category will be restricted to the type of emergency where life or personal injury is at risk requiring immediate additional assistance. 


E.         All emergency personnel should continuously be aware of the need to conserve the use of radio frequencies and should make a conscious and positive effort to eliminate unnecessary use of the radio.





A.         The manner in which radio operations are handled is often a measure of the efficiency of an organization and the attitude of its individuals.  Applications of the general do’s and don’ts outlined here lead to professional performance.


1.                  Make sure the radio is on the correct channel.

2.                  Listen before transmitting to make certain the frequency is clear.

3.                  Organize your thoughts before transmitting to avoid wasted time and confusion.

4.                  Keep transmissions brief and to the point.  Avoid long winded descriptions and unnecessary repetition.  Accuracy, brevity and speed are all important.   However, being accurate should be considered most important.

5.                  When using a mobile unit, hold the microphone approximately one inch from the lips, key the microphone, pause two to three seconds for the repeater to be activated, and then speak slowly and clearly across the mouthpiece in a normal voice.  Do not hold the microphone directly in front of your mouth, but slightly to the side at an angle of about 45 degrees, talking across the face of the microphone instead of blowing into it.

6.                  Sirens and air horns create additional noise when transmitting.  Closing the windows of the vehicle or placing the microphone next to the side of the throat to talk will avoid that interference.

7.                  Communications should be conducted in a professional manner.  During all radio operations, remain cordial and calm.  Words or voice inflections which reflect an individual’s irritation or sarcasm are not to be used.  Remember, your conduct on the radio reflects on you and your entire department.

8.                  No one department should command the frequency or monopolize the air-time with unnecessary transmissions. 

9.                  Radio traffic needs to be kept to a minimum and pertinent to the emergency at hand.  Emergencies may occur simultaneously in opposite ends of the county.  Often only the dispatcher will hear both departments’ transmissions

10.              The use of thanks, please and other expressions of courtesy make for good working relationships among agencies.

11.              When you are finished with your transmission, secure the microphone in its proper position to avoid an “open mike” which may block essential radio traffic and/or disable the scan function of the radio.    


B.         Users of portable radios should scan with their radios on a non-repeater frequency, such as Dispatch Talk-Around, in order to prevent keying of a repeater when not in service.  Dispatch Talk-Around will assure the user receives any communications coming from Dispatch.


C.        If an authorized user of the radio system feels that a department is not following these guidelines, he/she should contact their department head.  The department head should be given the type of infraction or problem and the date and time of occurrence.  The department head may do the following:


1.                  Contact the appropriate department head by telephone and discuss the concern.

2.                  Write a letter documenting the situation to the appropriate department head.


If successful contact cannot be made, or if the department head feels nothing has been done, the concern may be documented in writing to the Chief Deputy requesting the matter be reviewed. 





A.         Units calling Dispatch should identify themselves with the appropriate department name and then address the communications center as DISPATCH.  (Example:  Washburn Fire to  Dispatch.)  If a department’s radio transmission may change from tower to tower, the radio unit should also identify the tower on which they are transmitting.  (Example:  South Shore Ambulance to Dispatch/Port Wing.)


B.         If you need a response from Dispatch, then address Dispatch.  (Example:  South Shore EMT Hofman to Dispatch).  If you are transmitting on the radio for the benefit of other responders, do not address Dispatch and do not expect Dispatch to acknowledge your transmission.  (Iron River EMT Victorson to the scene.) 


C.        The use of plain text (versus 10-codes) is the standard operating procedure for radio communications.  


E.         A Fire Department should transmit the following to Dispatch:


1.                  Department Acknowledge the page (one person)  [Mason Fire to Dispatch. Acknowledge the page.] 

2.                  Department en route (not individual apparatus)

3.                  Department at the scene

4.                  Department leaving the scene

5.                  Department back at the hall. 


F.         An Ambulance Department should transmit the following to Dispatch:


1.                  Department – Acknowledge the page [Iron River Ambulance to Dispatch.  Acknowledge the page.]

2.                  Ambulance en route

3.                  Ambulance at the scene

4.                  Ambulance en route to hospital

5.                  Ambulance arrived at hospital

6.                  Ambulance returning to hall


G.        The ambulance should also transmit the following information to Dispatch during Intercept calls:


1.                  Intercept request

2.                  Making intercept

3.                  Action following intercept (Example:  patient transferred to ground ambulance or helicopter and returning to hall, back en route to hospital, etc.).


H.         If you are not receiving clear transmission from Dispatch, please inform the dispatcher with a suggested change of tower in order to receive a better signal. 





A.         The order of dispatch by radio pager:


            1.         Select appropriate fire/ambulance department(s) button(s).

            2.         Activate pager(s).

3.                  Announce Department(s) that are to respond.

4.                  Announce type of emergency.

5.                  Announce name of residence, if appropriate.

6.                  Announce location of the emergency by address, both number and road name, including the town/village/city.

7.                  Announce additional information needed to respond appropriately.

8.                  Repeat steps 1 – 7.

9.                  Announce time of Dispatch.

10.              If there is no response within two (2) minutes of the initial call, repeat steps 1 – 7.

11.              If there is no response within two (2) minutes (either by telephone or radio) the Dispatcher will automatically dispatch another  appropriate department(s).


B.         Any acknowledgement of the page means the service is responsible for the call. 


C.        Ambulance Departments will be notified as a Fire Department is dispatched in the ambulance response area.  If a Fire Department is en route to an emergency, the Dispatcher will automatically notify the appropriate ambulance department.


D.        Fire Departments will be notified as an Ambulance Department is dispatched to a motor vehicle accident in the fire department response area.  If the fire department in that jurisdiction does not have extrication equipment they may request the closest department with the appropriate equipment also be notified/put on standby until it is known that extrication will not be necessary.  If an ambulance is en route to a motor vehicle accident, the Dispatcher will automatically notify the appropriate fire department.


F.         If the person in charge of a department feels that a Dispatcher was not following procedures, a verbal or written report should be filed with the Chief Deputy.  It is not appropriate for individual responders to call dispatchers directly to air complaints.


G.        The Chief Deputy will handle all complaints, contact the Dispatcher involved, compile the facts, and make changes as necessary to resolve the situation.  The Chief Deputy is also responsible to report actions taken to the person who filed the incident report and the Dispatcher.


H.         Continuous recordings are made of all radio and telephone communications which are accepted at the Communications Center.   These recordings are kept indefinitely.  Recordings  can be played or duplicated for the person in charge of a department or his or her designee.  Arrangements must be made with the Chief Deputy.  





When a department is going to be “out of service”, and they are going to have another service covering their area, the person in charge of the department or designee will advise the Communication Center of the method of dispatch.  This notification should be done ahead of time.  Dispatch will page both the out-of-service department and the covering department if there is a call for service for the duration of the request.





A.         Pager tests will be conducted every Monday evening between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm.  If incident traffic prevents pager testing, the tests may be conducted the following evening.


B.         Additional pages may be requested by a department.


C.        Tests will not be conducted during heavy incident traffic times in the communication center.


D.        If you do not receive a page during the designated time, contact other members of your department.  I no other persons received the page, the person in charge of the department or designee should notify the Communication Center after 8:00 pm to determine if pager tests were conducted and request a pager test prior to 9:00 pm if possible.





A.         FIRE – A department shall request specific equipment, apparatus, and/or personnel when requesting mutual aid.  Examples include but are not limited to:  engine, tanker/tender, SCBA, personnel, extrication equipment, law enforcement, ambulance, etc.  The Dispatcher will page the mutual aid department(s) with the specific requests.


B.         AMBULANCE/EMS – A department shall request specific equipment and/or personnel when requesting mutual aid.  Examples include, but are not limited to:  ambulance, EMTs, extrication equipment, law enforcement, etc..


1.         GROUND INTERCEPT – A department shall request the specific ambulance agency, state the basic reason for the request and specify the route of travel to the hospital when requesting a ground intercept.  Communication with the intercepting ambulance will take place on a non-repeater frequency when possible and include specific information as needed.


C.        MEDICAL HELICOPTER – Requests for the medical helicopter may be made by any emergency agency.  State:


            1.         Requesting agency name.

            2.         Type of response

a.                  Standby – Helicopter staff will go to the ship, and prepare for launch.  This takes about ten minutes.

b.                  Launch – Helicopter will proceed toward the emergency scene.

3.         General location of the incident and/or landing zone.

4.         Type of incident

a.                  Auto accident – multiple patients/with fatality/extended extrication time

b.                  Amputations

c.                  Severe burns

d.                  Remote or difficult road access

e.                  Search in conjunction with a medical emergency

5.         Radio frequency to communicate on – ALS 400.

6.         It is highly recommended that a mobile radio be used for all radio communications with the helicopter.


D.        In anticipation of an expanding emergency, departments may request notification of a neighboring department as follows:


1.         ALERT – No action required. 

Department notified that assistance may be needed as local resources are depleted or inoperable. 

Example:  Barnes Ambulance down for the week for repairs.  EMTs would be available to respond to a scene.  Both Iron River and Great Divide may be notified that the need to respond into Barnes service area to transport a patient may be requested. 

Notification should be done from department to department by telephone when possible.  Dispatch is to be contacted if they are expected to make any changes in established procedures. 


2.         STANDBY – Personnel and equipment at the hall ready to respond. 

Example:  Barnes and Iron River Fire Departments are responding to a working fire with all personnel and equipment.  Brule and Drummond may be requested to standby at their hall.  The expectation is that personnel would be in turnout gear with trucks and equipment ready to respond.

                        Notification would be paged through the communications center.


3.         MOVE-UP – Department personnel and equipment are moved to a designated location.

Example:  Great Divide and Mason EMS have responded to a multi-casualty accident with all units and personnel.  Barnes EMS may be requested to move-up to a location allowing coverage of both areas, perhaps near A and N.  Iron River would be requested to move a unit to a location allowing coverage toward Mason, perhaps Ino.  Move-up locations are designated by the requesting department.

            Notification would be paged through the communications center.





A.         Any time a multi-agency pre-planned drill is going to be conducted where the Communications Center will be involved in any respect, the Communications Center must be notified at least 24 hours in advance.  This information should be given to the Chief Deputy and should include the location, time, approximate duration and the agencies involved, and the method of notifying each agency to respond to the drill if applicable. 


B.         Request for paging by the Communications Center shall be limited to service related problems, a family emergency that cannot be handled by telephone or department meetings.  Non-emergency paging will be conducted at the discretion of the dispatcher.


C.        If a department needs to contact the Communications Center for times on a call, do this through 373-6120.  Respect the fact that the Dispatcher may be busy at this point and call back as needed.


D.        During normal operations, members of the emergency services community and other interested persons are encouraged to visit the Communications Center to observe the operations.  These visits should be arranged with the Chief Deputy and may be limited to a maximum number of people.  A tour would be discontinued if an emergency demanding the Dispatcher’s time would take place.


E.         Dispatch need only be contacted when requesting a change in established procedures.