Fall 2009 Issue
What Is Your Location?
If you hear someone ask, “What is your location?” or say, “Say your location.” (on phone), or send “QTH?” (on CW) how do you reply? The correct answer will vary based upon the time, place, and situation. To state your location effectively and appropriately takes knowledge and experience in proper operating procedures plus a little common sense.
If I break a pile-up working a DXpediton station, I would say to the DX: “You are 59 in northern California.” That information is all the DX station would need or desire. If I say much more, I will probably be ignored (or worse) and run the risk of being labeled “a lid.”
However, “armchair DX operators” (engaged in a casual QSO) in other countries may be interested in knowing what county or city I live in, or some other geographical or historical information about the area in which I live. For example, “I’m 40 miles northeast of Mt. Shasta, which is 14,192 feet high.” VHF and UHF operators are often interested in knowing from what grid square your signal is originating. For example, “I am in Siskiyou County, California, grid square CN91.”
By contrast, most stations in a public service net need to know a station’s approximate location because they may have message traffic to a certain general area. Say your location in a manner such that most people will recognize where you are located. When working DX or stations around the U.S., I usually say my location as, “I am located in northern California, 10 miles south of the Oregon border.” The reason I add the second part is because many people think of Sacramento and San Francisco as “northern California,” and I am actually 300 miles north of those population centers! I might also add, “I am 115 miles inland from the Pacific Coast,” and/or add, “I am in Siskiyou County,” or the name of my nearest town, which is Macdoel. My location information depends upon the type of contact.
In EmComm (emergency communications) work, whether it is local VHF or in wider-area HF nets and contacts, the casual guidelines change. Information must be more specific! When reporting an emergency incident, such as an automobile accident or some lost hikers just found in the woods and urgent help is needed, all the examples given above are useless to first responders!
Once contact with another station is
established, the location provided must be accurate and specific. The
location must be stated in such a way that rescuers can find it and in
such a manner that the location stated cannot be mistaken for any other
place! The location must also be sent in a way that the receiving station
and/or agency will recognize any landmark references you are saying. (Of
course, you must know where you are!) When reporting to an amateur radio
operator who will be relaying the message to local authorities who
(hopefully) are familiar with the area, you should reference local roads,
landmarks, and other topographical features.
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