Years ago many emergency workers used 10-codes to communicate over radio systems. In the wake of some disaster and terror attack responses these codes were abandoned to “normal speak” on radios. Now the federal government wants to bring the codes back.
The reason for abandoning these codes was a lack of uniformity across jurisdictions and services. Some codes like 10-4 (acknowledged) were universal. Other codes could change based on location. For example a 10-79 could be a dead body in one location or a bomb in some other location. Or 10-40 could mean scene secure for police, but for EMS it could mean non-emergency transport call. These differences caused confusion at various multi agency response scenes.
After beta testing the use of a new all inclusive national level 10-code system in a few select locations FEMA is ready to roll out the program to the full USA. These radio codes will become part of NIMs. As such all emergency responders will need to take a new class, ICS-1010.
We do not have complete list of codes at this time. However the rumor is the list is close to 300 codes. These codes cover everything police, fire and EMS need to worry about. There are specific codes to cover everything from active shooting, to cardiac arrest, to CO2 detector alarm.
Emergency responders seem to be excited to once again be able to say cool 10-codes over the radio. Officer Nate Campbell says “As a kid growing up I watched police shows and dreamed of saying 10-4 to dispatch. When I started in 2007 we were told clear talk only. No 10-codes just say ‘okay’ to acknowledge dispatch. So now I get to realize my dream. I can’t wait to finish this new ICS class and finally get to say 10-4 on a real police radio.”