I've been an active Search & Rescue volunteer since 2007 with the Coconino County Sheriff's SAR Team in northern Arizona.
Find Scanners Around the Globe on "Radio Reference"
Being an addicted -- or maybe I should say enthusiastic -- Search and Rescue volunteer, I like to listen to our county's SAR frequencies to find out what's going on before our team actually gets called out for a mission ... not to mention eavesdrop on what else is happening with law enforcement in the area. In addition to the Sheriff's department radio traffic, I can listen to the action in nearby Grand Canyon National Park and with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Flagstaff Police, Fire and EMS.
And all of this I can do online while working on my blogs and websites, "tweeting" on Twitter, writing articles such as this, working on my business, or simply staring into space and shmoozing with my dog. The source of these live audio feeds is RadioReference.com.
Radio Reference is "the world's largest radio communication's data provider, featuring a complete frequency database, trunked radio system information and FCC license data." Live audio feeds are available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel and Chile. Registration and access is free, though there are advanced features available to Premium subscribers. I use the free service, and it's more than enough for me.
Listen to CB radio online here: Live Police, Fire, EMS, Aircraft and Rail Scanners
Do You Listen In? - A visitor poll
Find a Scanner Audio Feed Near You
Visit RadioReference's Live Audio Feed Online (called Broadcastify) and click on your state or country, then keep narrowing it down to your area.
Headphones For Your Private Listening Pleasure - Don't bother anyone else with your scanner or CB radio addiction
Well, I should speak for myself. Not that I'm addicted, but I do like to listen in quite a bit, and I don't want to force my habit on anyone else. A pair of comfortable, economical but high-quality headphones is all it takes.
Or Go Wireless - So you can move around more while you listen in
Understanding What You Hear On The Scanner
Learn the codes
Numeric codes have often been used in radio communication, particularly by law enforcement and in CB transmissions, as replacements for common words or phrases.
Created to help reduce the amount of speech over the radio, the first set of "10-codes" was published by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) in 1940 and later expanded by the APCO in 1974.
There is, however, no universal set of 10-codes, and their meanings can vary between jurisdictions. This is why, in 2005, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began discouraging the use of these and other codes, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also plans to do away with 10-codes.
The following is a list of one set of 10-code meanings, which may or may not be identical to all of those used (or that were used, as the case may be) in your area.
CB Radio 10 Codes
Learn the scanner language
The majority of these 10 codes I never hear. Those I hear used frequently I've noted with a double asterisk (**).
10-0 Use Caution
10-1 You are being received poorly**
10-2 You are being received clearly
10-3 Stop Transmitting
10-6 Busy with Call
10-7 Out of service (completely)**
10-7A Out of service at home
10-7B Out of service - personal
10-7C Out of service (court)
10-7od Out of service - off duty
10-8 In service/available for assignment**
10-8OT In service (over time)
10-9 Repeat last transmission**
10-10 Off duty
10-10A Off duty at home
10-11 Identify this frequency
10-12 Visitors are present (be discrete)**
10-13 Advise weather and road conditions
10-14 Citizen holding suspect
10-15 Prisoner in custody
10-16 Pick up prisoner
10-17 Request for gasoline
10-18 Equipment exchange
10-19 Return/returning to the station**
10-21 Telephone:______** (I often hear this as just "21" without the 10.)
10-21a Advise home that I will return at ______
10-21b Phone your home
10-21r Phone radio dispatch
10-22 Disregard the last assignment**
10-22c Leave area if all secure
10-24 Request car-to-car transmission
10-25 Do you have contact with _______?
10-27 Driver's license check**
10-28 Vehicle registration request**
10-29 Check wants/warrants.[vehicle] (PIN,SVS)
10-29a Check wants/warrants [subject] (PIN)
10-29c Check complete [subject]
10-29f The subject is wanted for a felony
10-29h Caution - severe hazard potential
10-29r Check wants/record [subject PIN,CJIC)
10-29m The subject is wanted for a misdemeanor
10-29v The vehicle wanted in connection with a crime
10-30 Does not conform to regulations
10-33 Alarm sounding
10-34 Assist at office
10-35 Time check
10-36 Confidential information
10-37 Identify the operator
10-39 Can ______ come to the radio?
10-40 Is ______ available for a telephone call?
10-42 Check on the welfare of/at ______
10-43 Call a doctor
10-45 What is the condition of the patient?
10-45A Condition of patient is good
10-45B Condition of patient is serious
10-45C Condition of patient is critical
10-45D Patient is deceased
10-46 Sick person [ambulance en route]
10-48 Ambulance transfer call
10-49 Proceed to/En route to ______
10-50 under influence of narcotics/Take a report
10-51 Subject is drunk
10-52 Resuscitator is needed
10-53 Person down
10-54 Possible dead body
10-55 Coroner's case
10-56A Suicide attempt
10-57 Firearm discharged
10-58 Garbage complaint
10-59 Security check./Malicious mischief
10-60 Lock out
10-61 Miscellaneous public service
10-62 Meet a citizen
10-62A Take a report from a citizen
10-62B Civil standby
10-63 Prepare to copy
10-64 Found property
10-65 Missing person
10-66 Suspicious person
10-67 Person calling for help.
10-68 Call for police made via telephone
10-73 How do you receive?
10-79 Bomb threat
10-86 Any traffic?
10-87 Meet the officer at ______
10-88 Fill with the officer/Assume your post
10-91b Noisy animal
10-91c Injured animal
10-91d Dead animal
10-91e Animal bite
10-91g Animal pickup
10-91h Stray horse
10-91j Pickup/collect ______
10-91LLeash law violation
10-91V Vicious animal
10-95 Pedestrian/ Requesting an I.D./Tech unit
10-96 Out of vehicle-ped. send backup
10-97 Arrived at the scene**
10-98 Available for assignment**
10-99 Open police garage door
10-100 Civil disturbance - Mutual aid standby
10-101 Civil disturbance - Mutual aid request
10-102 Cruelty to animals
10-103F Disturbance by fight
10-103M Disturbance by mental person
10-107 Suspicious person
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In addition to 10 codes, some organizations and municipalities use other codes. The California Highway Patrol, for one, uses "eleven-codes" such as these:
11-10 Take a report.
11-24 Abandoned automobile
11-25 Traffic hazard
11-26 Abandoned bicycle
11-27 10-27 with the driver being held
11-28 10-28 with the driver being held
11-40 Advise if an ambulance is needed
11-41 An ambulance is needed
11-42 No ambulance is needed
11-48 Furnish transportation
11-52 Funeral detail
11-54 Suspicious vehicle
11-55 Officer is being followed by automobile
11-56 Officer is being followed by auto containing dangerous persons
11-57 An unidentified auto appeared at the scene of the assignment
11-58 Radio traffic is being monitored. Phone all non-routine messages
11-59 Give intensive attention to high hazard/business areas
11-60 Attack in a high hazard area
11-65 Signal light is out
11-66 Defective traffic light
11-78 Aircraft accident
11-79 Accident - ambulance dispatched
11-80 Accident - major injuries
11-81 Accident - minor injuries
11-82 Accident - no injuries
11-83 Accident - no details
11-84 Direct traffic
11-85 Tow truck required
11-94 Pedestrian stop
11-95 Routine traffic stop
11-96 Checking a suspicious vehicle
11-97 Time/security check on patrol vehicles
11-98 Meet: _______
11-99 Officer needs help
900 Series Radio Codes
In addition to 10 codes, you may also hear some 900 codes over the scanner, and we use code 901 in Search & Rescue.
900 Bomb threat
901 Deceased person
902 Sudden death
903 Attempted suicide
904A Automobile fire
904B Building fire
904G Grass fire
909 Traffic problem; police needed
910 Can handle this detail
925 Suspicious vehicle
932 Turn on _______ mobile relay at _______
933 Turn off mobile relay
949 Burning inspection at _______
950 Control burn in progress/about to begin/ended
951 Need fire investigator
952 Report on conditions
953 Investigate smoke
953A Investigate gas
954 Off the air at the scene of the fire
955 Fire is under control
956 Assignment not finished
957 Delayed response of __ minutes
980 Restrict calls to emergency only
981 Resume normal traffic
1000 Plane crash
3000 Road block
There's also a list of 900 codes and 10 codes at Disabled-world.com. Notice the differences between those definitions and those above.
Other Radio Codes
Code 1 Do so at your convenience
Code 2 Urgent
Code 3 Emergency/lights and siren
Code 4 No further assistance is needed (We use this code in Search & Rescue to mean that we're OK.)
Code 5 Stakeout
Code 6 Responding from a long distance
Code 7 Mealtime
Code 8 Request cover/backup
Code 9 Set up a roadblock
Code 10 Bomb threat
Code 12 Notify news media
Code 20 Officer needs assistance
Code 22 Restricted radio traffic
Code 30 Officer needs HELP - EMERGENCY!
Code 33 Mobile emergency - clear this radio channel.
Code 43 TAC forces committed
Learn The Phonetic Alphabet
A is for Adam ... and so on
Over the radio, some letters can sound a lot alike, such as D, E, B and C. This is why the phonetic alphabet was developed. There are two common versions, one for law enforcement and the other for the military. This is the phonetic alphabet used by law enforcement:
A - Adam
B - Boy
C - Charles
D - David
E - Edward
F - Frank
G - George
H - Henry
I - Ida
J - John
K - King
L - Lincoln
M - Mary
N - Nora
O - Ocean
P - Paul
Q - Queen
R - Robert
S - Sam
T - Tom
U - Union
V - Victor
W - William
X - X-ray
Y - Yellow
Z - Zebra
So IF I ever got pulled over by a police officer (which hopefully will never happen), my name would be called in as "David-Edward-Boy-Robert-Adam" and last name, "Lincoln-Adam-Union-Mary-Adam-Nora."
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© 2009 Deb Kingsbury
Comments And Questions About Listening To Scanner Traffic Welcome - Do you listen in???
Randell Carman on April 14, 2020:
Thanks, that is very useful info! On the topic of radio communications, I came across a site that provides 2-way radio signal boosters that may help reduce static we hear all the time on such radios that catch signals from far away: https://www.signalbooster.com/collections/public-s...
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 03, 2016:
This is pretty cool to do. I never thought of it. I'm going to check it out and use it for novel research before my first ride-along this weekend. Thx for sharing this lens.
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on April 12, 2014:
I have never heard a scanner, it sound interesting.
writerkath on October 25, 2013:
I have never heard a scanner, but I'll bet it's pretty interesting to listen in!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on September 06, 2013:
It is interesting to listen to law enforcement action unfold (and sometimes heartbreaking). When I worked for the National Park Service, we used some 10 code and had a strict radio communication protocol to follow. All of this was driven home on the day one of my colleagues died. Very intense when it's a life and death situation. I can understand why you like to follow the scanner action. It would be extremely helpful as you prepare to enter a search and rescue mission.
Andrew4M on August 05, 2013:
Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on June 14, 2013:
It is pretty cool to listen to the action as it unfolds. It is addictive.
anonymous on May 13, 2013:
Several family members still listen to scanners, I stopped several years ago - it was getting addictive...
Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 11, 2013:
I didn't realize people listened to scanners. Thanks for sharing.
mariacarbonara on May 05, 2013:
@SecondHandJoe LM: Wireless headphones while gardening! That's an awesome idea never though of that. Amazon here i come!
SecondHandJoe LM on February 22, 2012:
I own those Sony wireless headphones and wear them when I cut grass! Awesome clarity! Thanks for another great lens.
anonymous on January 09, 2012:
The important thing to remember is from place to place and even from agency to agency that the codes will differ. This is an excellent lens for any scanner buff. I work in a 911 center and love listening to other places on RadioReference and seeing the differences.
seeker2011 lm on October 28, 2011:
I listen to internet radio foreign countires to becme familiar with their language. People listen to opera, why not scanner traffic. There are those that listen to aircraft traffic via scanners. Each to his own.
anonymous on September 19, 2011:
Radio is outstandingly useful in cases of emergency. Most home radio's can be powered from a something like a car battery and use relatively small amounts of power. In an emergency situation a power outage can mean radio is the only reliable means of communication. Cellphones depend on more than just their internal batteries; they also rely on the network of cellphone towers. Trinidad Radio
anonymous on July 28, 2011:
Many -approach radio providers require you to purchase a license from the FCC. The CB radio service is not one in all them. The FCC does have some guidelines that you need to observe though. You can find the foundations tucked into the working handbook of your radio. You may also obtain them on the Internet. The foundations are easy to learn and are organized as an inventory of widespread questions. They include technical guidelines about radios and antennas as well as what you'll be able to and might't do on the air.
anonymous on June 01, 2011:
heehaw lm on May 05, 2011:
very extraordinary, it is fun to listen them talking
LensSeller on May 01, 2011:
A very interesting read - thank you!
anonymous on December 18, 2010:
Wow nice Work, this Squidoo Lens is a Very Interesting Read!!!
Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on December 18, 2010:
ooooh, very interesting. You know I'm really glad there a people like you who respond well in an emergency though. I can stay calm, but my palms sweat, my heart races, and my brain freezes. Outwardly, I may look calm, but inside, I'm pretty useless. Thanks to these cops and others like them.
MargoPArrowsmith on December 17, 2010:
Well, its interesting
Michey LM on November 12, 2010:
Very informative, love it!
Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on April 15, 2010:
Came back to give you a Squidangel blessing!
Holley Web on January 18, 2010:
Now, that is great info! I tuned in to my local police scanner and it was truly enlightening! Thank you! 5*s
Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on December 23, 2009:
This is a great resource, thank you for the code information!
tandemonimom lm on September 27, 2009:
My experience with scanner radio is limited to Smokey and the Bandit. 10-4 good buddy! ;-)