FEMA Asks Agencies to Drop "Cop Talk"

Several agencies respond when disaster hits, but sometimes communication between agencies can pose a problem.

Different agencies ask for help in different ways.

Plain and simple: "I need help" or in a 10-code system: "10-33-emergency help needed."

It can be confusing if the departments do not understand the code system. That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking all agencies to drop 10-codes when a disaster strikes. 

In Amarillo, the police department, Randall and Potter County Sheriff's Department and the Medical Services all currently use a  10-code system. And Sgt. Ken Albright of the Amarillo Police Department says that's not likely to change; "First of all, our people are already trained, so we don't have to retrain them to use anything else, that's number one. Number two what are 10-codes allow us to do is communicate much more quickly and get a great deal of information in some of signals, we don't have to use that much air time on the radio, its an officer safety issue, so we are still going to use the 10-codes,"

Other agencies like the Amarillo Fire Department use plain language as their form of communication. "The benefits of plain language is less confusion...different entities use different codes so if you're talking to another agency, there 10-codes may not be the same as ours," says Lt. Randy Adams of the Amarillo Fire Department.

Using the plain language system helped fire departments around the area during the wildfire season.  "Our safety depends on communication, it depends on the clarity and make sure all parties understand what's being said," says Adams.

In case of a disaster, all departments will go to a plain language system to make sure there is no miscommunication.