Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Veering Off Topic

It's been nearly three months since I published my last post. In that time, I've listened to a lot of scanning and just haven't had the energy to post. My Bearcat BC296D (Trunktracker IV) kicks ass. I just got around to programming the L.A. County Fire (with Long Beach Fire, and assorted Marine VHF frequencies thrown in for good measure) into the unit.

In general--now that I'm digital--I think the best way to cover the parts of the Southland that I live in, and care about, is to do something similar to the following.

I live west of La Cienega Boulevard, but east of the ocean. North of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway, but south of Mulholland. So that's my immediate area of interest. It extends beyond that pretty much to the LA County line (at speaking in terms of fire departments) and pretty much limited to the LAPD, CHP and Beverly Hills on the law enforcement side of things. I learned long ago that listening to the LA County Sheriff's frequency is an exercise in frustration.

That said, here's how I scan most effectively: Bank 1 is all of the LAPD frequencies, grouped by bureau. Since I live in West Bureau, I start with West LA base, followed by the simplex and continue through the divisions thusly. I include the bureau tac frequencies at the end of the group. So on and so forth all the way through most of the frequencies found on the LAPD ASTRO (portable) radios. I then lock out the entire bank.

Bank 2 includes (at this point at least) only a few freqs. They include the Beverly Hills PD, and immediate area CHP freqs. The CHP is a tough listen because the base and mobile freqs for specific divisions are separate. From where I live, the base freq (CHP PINK) comes in fairly clear, but I almost never hear the mobiles unless it's a very calm, clear night, or they're super-close. I keep that bank on scan with a few of the tacs locked out (l/o).

Bank 3 is closest to my heart: It's the LAFD freqs in ascending order as programmed on their radios. I also have Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Fire's freqs in the bank and keep them unlocked as well. As for the LAFD, I keep the main administrative and ancillary channels l/o but leave the primary dispatch channels and all of the fireground tacs unlocked. Bank 3 remains on perma-scan as well.

As of this past Sunday, I added (through the magic of programming the scanner via computer= great invention) the cumbersome LA County Fire freqs. Until about two years ago, I avoided LACoFD scanning like the plague. It's totally different than LA City's SOP and takes a bit of getting used to. But once you've got it wired, in some ways it's crisper than the LAFD's traffic, but never as encompassing or as informative. However, it's pretty easy to get a quick handle on the large scope of incidents going on at any one time in the country's largest county.

Before I transitioned to the new digitial scanner (and thus, reopening the LAPD option) I also regularly monitored Gerber Ambulance (transporting for Santa Monica FD and AMR, tranporting for LACoFD). But that's just too much chatter for me to handle these days.

As for daily utility listening. I have also added the LAPD Air/K9 (Hotshots) freq in Bank 3 along with the LAFD. That way I hear the LAPD hotshots go down and if something sounds interesting, I quickly unlock Bank 1 and go directly to the LAPD freq that's hosting the incident. This, of course, limits my listening to that particular frequency at that time, because l/o all the other freqs on Bank 1 would be a serious pain in the ass. Though I am often tempted to l/o the Hotshots freq (and have for months at a time in the past) because of the burdensome nature of lots of the LAPD dispatches (missing persons descriptions and long descriptions of suspects breaking into vehicles, etc.) I have made an effort to keep it unlocked. The great LAPD calls, especially the pursuits and other wackiness are worth wading through the bullshit Code 2 calls and impossibly long dispatches. The only drawback: It's a great way to miss a good fire dispatch or size-up on another frequency while the scanner is stuck on Hotshots.

I am debating whether or not I want to consolidate some freqs into Bank 5 where I would simply duplicate the primary freqs that I already listen to over 3 banks. But to do that, then I would have to switch back to the particular freq or bank for specific incident listening.

If I were to do it this would be the ideal setup:

--LAPD Air/K9 Hotshots (also totally doable on an analog scanner at 154.830)
--LAFD OCD 4 (City EMS Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 7 (City Fire Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 8 (Valley EMS/Fire Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 9 (Major Incident Dispatch, i.e. Brush, Hi-Rise, MCI et. al)
--LACoFD Blue 8 (Countywide Dispatch)
--Beverly Hills PD Dispatch
--Beverly Hills Fire Dispatch
--CHP West LA Base (CHP Pink)

That would provide a good enough overview to chase the biggest Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement incidents (minus the LASO, but those incidents can be picked through clever deduction of LACoFD dispatches).

And that, my friends, is a good overiew of how I scan.

1 comment:

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