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AWIN SYSTEM. familiarization training for. Arkansas Department of Health Users. Course Objectives. Understand how to operate the type of radio commonly used by ADH on the AWIN System Understand the terminology used on the AWIN System

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familiarization training


Arkansas Department of Health Users

Prepared by John Nordlund

Tactical Communication Specialist

Arkansas Department of Health

September 2011

Course Objectives

Understand how to operate the type of radio commonly used by ADH on the AWIN System

Understand the terminology used on the AWIN System

Understand the basic theory behind the operation of the AWIN System

Understand the AWIN System guidelines and procedures


Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN) is a multi-phased program to leverage new and existing wireless resources to create a statewide interoperable wireless communication system for emergency responders and Arkansas public service entities.

Why a Statewide Network?

Interoperability Defined -

  • Allows members of different agencies and different jurisdictions to communicate while working on the same incident

  • Provides for common equipment, support, and protocols regardless of job function

  • Shared talkgroups are the key to interoperability

The Radio

In order to use the AWIN system effectively you must have a basic understanding of the radio controls.

Most of the radios in use by ADH are Motorola XTS-2500 hand held units. The XTS-2500 can be programmed to a wide variety of configurations, so you might encounter a radio that is set up differently than the next slides will describe. This information covers the majority of units deployed to ADH users.

ADH also has some XTS-5000 radios and a few other types as well. The controls of the XTS-5000 are similar to the XTS-2500. The buttons may be in slightly different locations, but the functions are generally the same.

Top Controls


The emergency button on most ADH radios has been disabled, however a few are still active. When pressed, an active button will set off alarms on dispatch consoles all over the state. If your radio sets off the emergency alarm, NO NOT change talkgroup settings. Press and hold the emergency button for a slow count to 5 and release it to clear the alarm. An active alarm blocks all other radio traffic until the alarm is cleared.

Front Panel Controls

The radios programmed functions are accessed from the front panel buttons. If you press the ‘Home’ button for 3 seconds, your radio display should look like this .

Side Buttons

The use of each of these buttons will be described on following slides.

Except for the ‘Push to Talk’ button, these do not cause the radio to transmit.

Turn the Radio On

Rotate the On/Off/Volume adjustment knob to turn the radio on. You will also use this control to set the volume level.

Setting the Volume

Volume Adjustment Tone

Sounds while this button is pressed.

Press and hold the side button with the raised bump. A tone will sound that will help you adjust the volume to a safe and comfortable listening level.


The users of a trunked radio system are organized into “talkgroups” instead of channels. Each talkgroup represents either an agency or a designated function on the system. The actual radio channel the talkgroup will use at any time will change according to system load requirements.

ADH version of the ASUG Talkgroup Template

Selecting a Talkgroup

Press the softkey under ZONE to enter the zone selection mode. (yellow highlight)

Selecting a Talkgroup

The SELECTED ZONE indicator will flash. You are now in zone selection mode. Press the left arrow of the Navigation Button.

Selecting a Talkgroup

The SELECTED ZONE indicator will change to the new zone number. Notice that the SELECTED TALKGROUP indicator has also changed. Press the left arrow of the Navigation Button again.

Selecting a Talkgroup

The SELECTED ZONE indicator has changed again. If the SELECTED TALKGROUP is the one you want, press the Home Button briefly to exit the zone select mode, or..

Selecting a Talkgroup

Rotate the Talkgroup Selector knob to the desired talkgroup. Turn it to the number 1 position.

Selecting a Talkgroup

The display is now indicating that you are on the MAC-CALL talkgroup.

Selecting a Talkgroup

Press and hold the Home Button for 3 seconds and the display will change back to your home talkgroup. For ADH radios, the home talkgroup is HEALTH

Battery Care

The batteries used with the AWIN radio are a critical part of a working communications asset.

If your battery is depleted you can’t talk to anyone.

To maximize their useful life batteries must be maintained correctly.


battery charger makes this battery maintenance easy, as it automatically reconditions the battery when required to assure maximum life and capacity.

Battery Care

To assure proper charging, be sure the slots on the bottom of the battery engage the rails in the charger. A battery can be charged with or without the radio attached.

Battery Care

A flashing RED lamp means the battery is no longer useable and must be replaced.

Flashing YELLOW means the battery may be too hot or cold or too depleted to enter a rapid charge cycle without a delay.

Flashing RED/GREEN means the battery is approaching the end of its useful life and will need to be replaced soon.

Steady YELLOW means the battery is being reconditioned. This could take several hours to complete.

When the battery is correctly seated in the charger, the indicator lamp will light. The charger will then evaluate the condition of the battery and select to recharge or recondition the battery as required.

Battery Care

If the radio is left on while charging, the battery will become depleted after the smart charge cycle has completed.

The charger does not replace energy in the battery as fast as the radio uses it when in the idle (steady GREEN) condition.

If you wish to leave the radio on, lift it out of the charger daily to restart the charge cycle and maintain the battery in a ready state.

Battery Care

It is best practice to charge one battery while using the other one.

This way you always have at least one battery near a full charge if an event requires use of the AWIN radio.

Swap the batteries when recharging, to balance the use time for each battery and extend battery life.

System Overview

In the early days of public safety radio, communications went direct from a dispatch station to mobile units in the field. This arrangement worked much better than the days before radio dispatch, but there were a lot of locations where radio communication was not functional due to distance and terrain.

Conventional Repeater System

The repeater system simultaneously receives and rebroadcasts the incoming radio signal.

The conventional repeater system usually supports the communications of only one agency for each radio channel in use.

Repeater stations allow the extension of communication range by rebroadcasting the signal into areas that were not reachable directly. Unfortunately most single agency repeaters stand idle up to 98% of the time. Repeater hardware is expensive, and radio frequencies are a limited resource. A better system was needed.

Trunked Radio System

The central controller of the trunked radio system allows efficient sharing of the channels by multiple agencies. As each user group transmits, all of the radio units of that group are automatically switched to a free radio channel. The users are generally not aware of the switching. This trunking method allows many agencies to share a small number of channels.

The controller can be networked to other sites to provide extensive area coverage.

A Statewide System

To provide communications on a statewide basis, the AWIN system uses transmission towers located in all parts of the state. The towers are interconnected by a dedicated microwave system. When your radio was turned on it registered its location with the master zone controller. Radio messages you should hear will be automatically routed to your location anywhere in the state.

The system towers are connected by a series of dedicated microwave links.

Basic Facts About AWIN

There are many different user types. Some depend on AWIN for continuous dispatch operations involving the safety of life and/or property. Others will only use AWIN occasionally or during emergencies. The common theme is that any of these agencies may need at some time to talk to another agency on the system.

Types of Radios

There are also many types of radio in use on the AWIN system. They all can be divided into three basic types. Most of the radios in use by ADH are portable units.




Another Important Part of the AWIN System

The Site on Wheels or SOW can be towed or helicopter lifted into position where needed for emergencies.

How does the AWIN System work?

An amazing chain of events begins when you press and hold the Push to Talk button located on the side of the radio. You need to pause before speaking, to let the system do its work.


We won’t actually press the Push to Talk button at this time, but just imagine we are doing so as we look at the next few slides.

How does the AWIN System work?

While you are pausing, your radio sends a request to talk to the tower site controller on the dedicated control data channel.

How does the AWIN System work?

The local site controller then talks over the microwave link with the master zone controller to announce your request to talk.

How does the AWIN System work?

The master zone controller then sends out instructions to the towers where members of your talk group are located, to direct all the radios associated with your talkgroup to open channels where they will wait for your message.

How does the AWIN System work?

The same thing happens to your radio. It is directed to an open voice channel on the tower you are associated with.

You will now hear a “permission to talk” tone from your radio.

You have been waiting a long time right?

This entire sequence of events normally happens in about 1/10 of a second!

How does the AWIN System work?

Once you have received a ‘permission to talk’ tone, a voice channel exists between you and all of the members of your talkgroup system wide. You may now talk to your group members.

How does the AWIN System work?

When transmitting, hold the radio 4 to 6 inches from your mouth. Speak clearly, and don’t shout. Notice that the antenna of the radio is held close to vertical. This improves the operating range of the radio.

Remember to release the Push to Talk button when you finish speaking so you can hear the other person reply.

How does the AWIN System work?

At most tower sites there are only 4 voice channels for all the users to share. Sometimes when you wish to talk, all the available voice channels at your local tower are busy.

How does the AWIN System work?

The master zone controller responds to your request with a busy tone. When you get a busy tone, you cannot talk until a channel becomes free at the tower. The master zone controller remembers that you want to talk, and places you in the waiting line for the next available channel.

How does the AWIN System work?

As soon as a channel is available, you will hear a ‘permission to talk’ tone. You have 1.5 seconds to press the push to talk button and speak. If you do not use the channel within 1.5 seconds it is given to the next person in line and you will need to pause until you hear the ‘permission’ tone again before talking.

How does the AWIN System work?

Just as before, you now have a voice path to all the members of your talkgroup throughout the system and you may proceed with your message.

How does the AWIN System work?

Sometimes you might be in a location that is not served well by the AWIN towers. To correct this problem, move to a different location, or find a higher place to stand such as the back of a pickup truck. A few extra feet of elevation can dramatically extend your radio range.

How does the AWIN System work?

Check the RSSI by pressing the button briefly. A returned value less than 40 will not provide useable communications. Press and hold for 2 seconds to force the radio to search for a tower with a stronger signal.

AWIN System Rules

The use and operation of the AWIN system is regulated by the FCC, the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, and the Arkansas Department of Information Services.

You are being granted access to a Federally licensed radio system, and failure to follow the rules can result in administrative action against you or your agency.

When can you use the AWIN System?

  • Regularly scheduled system tests

  • Inter- or Intra-agency exercises

  • Actual events or emergencies

The AWIN System exists to be used, however you should remember it is “For Official Use Only”

Equipment Use and Security



The AWIN radios in use by ADH can listen and talk to the State Police Dispatch operations. A radio in the wrong hands can disrupt police communications statewide. If your radio is lost or stolen, you should report it immediately so it can be disabled. Care should always be taken to keep the radio in a safe location to prevent loss or theft.

NEVER transmit on a talkgroup belonging to another agency unless specifically directed to do so.

Equipment Use and Security

Using the AWIN radio to listen to the radio messages of another agency does use the system resources of the network. You should not use the AWIN radio as a ‘police scanner’ since this extra network loading might interfere with essential radio communications, and result in loss of life. This is especially true if the talkgroup you are listening to is not from the local area you are currently in. In most locations there are only 4 voice channels and using one of them to satisfy curious interest is not a wise use of AWIN resources.

If you have an official reason to listen to a talkgroup, feel free to do so. If you are just curious, find another way to listen.

AWIN System Procedures

Fundamental concepts for AWIN System use.

  • Professionalism

  • Respect

  • Courtesy

  • Official use only

Every user of the AWIN System is expected to keep these principles in mind.

There is no place for bad language or rudeness on the radio.

We all have a job to do, and when you respect the job other people are doing they will respect the job you are doing.

Limit use to minimum necessary

to accomplish your mission.

You are one of nearly 19,000 users on the AWIN system. To avoid system overload, you should keep your conversation short and to the point.

Excessive talk could cause a busy channel overload and cause an unsafe condition for other system users.

AWIN System Procedures

Identify yourself and your target before each new call and when acknowledging a call.

ADH-ECC: “State Health calling Van Buren County.”

Field user: “Good Morning, this is Van Buren County we copy you loud and clear.”

ADH-ECC: “Copy you loud and clear as well. State Health calling Yell County Dardanelle.”

Field user: “Yell County Dardanelle.”

ADH-ECC: “State Health copies you loud and clear.”

Remember to use PLAIN LANGUAGE only. We do not use 10-codes or other radio ‘jargon’ on the AWIN System.

MAC Talkgroups

Assigned and directed by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the MAC and EMS talkgroups are for use by multiple agencies working on a common incident or event. Using the MAC groups prevents system overloading that would occur if each agency were trying to use their own talkgroups in a disaster area.

MAC groups facilitate communication between disciplines and across jurisdictional boundaries.


Benton Co. Wildland Fire


Atkins Tornado

Severe Weather Updates On MAC Call

  • Broadcast directly from the NWS Forecast Office in North Little Rock, AR

  • Up to date and current weather information 24/7

  • Immediate notification of watches/warnings throughout the entire State

  • Users are able to provide feedback to NOAA/NWS on MAC Call

Contact Information

DIS Call Center: 501-682-4357


24 Hours a Day

AWIN Operations: 501-683-1798

Monday-Friday 7:00-4:00

ADH Tactical Comm: Office – 501-661-2747

Cell – 501-626-6413

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