Lifesaving advantages of digital selective calling

The Sector Anchorage command center coordinates, directs and monitors operations extending throughout Western Alaska, The North Slope, and the Aleutian Islands through Prince William Sound.

The Sector Anchorage command center coordinates, directs and monitors operations extending throughout Western Alaska, The North Slope, and the Aleutian Islands through Prince William Sound.

It’s as simple as pressing a button and, if an emergency occurs, that might be all you have time for. The distance between someone in distress and their rescuers can be vast in Alaska. They could be hours away. A boater equipped with digital selective calling (DSC) distress signal capabilities just might possess one of the tools that could save their life.

DSC uses digital data to increase the range of its signal and provide an automatically formatted distress alert to rescuers. Each radio equipped with a DSC has a unique number called a mobile maritime service identity (MMSI).

As an emergency occurs and the distress button on the radio is pressed, a vessel’s information is broadcasted to the Coast Guard as well as all vessels equipped with DSC within in range. And if a DSC radio is connected to a Global Positioning System (GPS), that vessel’s location will be broadcasted as well.

A digital selective calling VHF-FM marine-band radio allows for a digital transfer between radios versus voice transmission which allows mariners to instantly send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard.

A digital selective calling VHF-FM marine-band radio allows for a digital transfer between radios versus voice transmission which allows mariners to instantly send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard.

It is important to note that DSC radios must be properly registered with an MMSI number through Boat US. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your DSC functions properly:

1. The vessel’s VHF radio must be registered for a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.
2. It’s highly encouraged that the DSC radio be connected to the vessel’s GPS.
3. To test the system, do not press the distress button! You will need to determine the MMSI number of a friend, or a local shore station. Enter their MMSI number into the radio as if you were using a phone. Choose a working channel, not channel 16!

A VHF marine radio is one of the most important radio system a boater should have with them. All passenger and cargo ships are required to carry DSC equipped radios and in June of 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report and Order requiring radios accepted on or after June 17, 1999 to include DSC.

The ability to quickly reach responders for help can be one of the most vital tools to have in an emergency. As the digital age continues to bring many conveniences, it also brings with it life saving technology. With DSC, that technology just might come in handy one day.

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