Usage Scenarios

Personal and Recreational Use

We encourage licensed GMRS users to responsibly utilize the GMRS repeaters for personal and recreational purposes. This will allow everyone to gain familiarity with their radios and know that they are working properly so they are better prepared to use them under adverse conditions.

Family Communications

Problem: A close relative or a good friend lives or works in Pleasant Gap, State College, or on the Penn State Campus. You’d like a backup method of connecting with them in the event that a natural disaster knocks out cell phone communications.

Solution: Because those places are within the coverage area of the Rattlesnake 550 repeater, you can communicate with one another using GMRS radios. If the other person is a family member, they are covered under your GMRS license.

Group Communications

Problem: You’re hunting deer with friends and using GMRS radios to keep in touch. You’re using a simplex channel to avoid tying up the repeater. At one point you descend into two different valleys and you can no longer hear one another.

Solution: You switch to a repeater channel and re-establish communication.

Event Coordination

Problem: Your charitable organization has scheduled a bike race that will take place on the roads surrounding Black Moshannon State Park. You are planning to set up several aid stations along the route, and you need a way for them to communicate with one another and with race headquarters. Some of the aid stations are in low-lying areas with no cell phone coverage.

Solution: You assign a licensed GMRS user to work at each aid station and they communicate using GMRS radios through the Rattlesnake 550 repeater.

Emergency Use

In the event of an emergency or a natural disaster, GMRS radios and repeaters could provide an additional means of communication, especially in locations or at times when other means of communication are not available.

FCC regulations stipulate that “Any GMRS channel may be used for emergency communications or for traveler assistance. Operators of GMRS stations must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency communications.“.


GMRS radios and repeaters are not a substitute for 911 service.

If you have a medical, fire, or police emergency, please call 911 if possible.

Out of Cell Phone Range

Problem: You’ve paddled your kayak to the upper reaches of Black Moshannon Lake when you suddenly experience severe chest pains. You pull out your cell phone to call for help, but the phone says “Mobile network not available”.

Solution: You use your GMRS radio to call for help on the Rattlesnake 550 repeater. Your spouse is monitoring the repeater because you told them you’d be paddling alone. They call 911 and also call the park office. The EMTs and the park rangers get you off of the lake and into an ambulance.

Cell Phone Service Not Working

Problem: It’s been raining frequently for the past two weeks. Then a hurricane passes through central PA, knocking out cell phone service and flooding large sections of Philipsburg. The Red Cross arrives and sets up an emergency shelter in the Philipsburg-Osceola high school where displaced residents can receive food, shelter, and first aid. But nobody knows that the shelter exists.

Solution: Local GMRS users are monitoring the repeaters. One person transmits a message to inform the community that the Red Cross shelter is open. Other GMRS users hear the message and spread the word to their neighbors. Some of the neighbors have already gotten the message because they were monitoring the repeaters using FRS radios or scanners.

Unreliable Landline Phone Service

Problem: Your elderly mother lives alone and has poor vision. There is no cell phone reception in her area, so her medical alert system is connected to her landline phone. You’ve had to arrange for repairs three times during the past year when you discovered the line was out of service. You worry about what would happen if the phone line were out of service when she needed it most.

Solution: You take your GMRS radio to her house and discover that you have a good signal into one of the GMRS repeaters. You buy her a handheld GMRS radio with a simplified interface and voice prompts, such as the Retevis RB27 or the Baofeng G11S. You set up the radio for the desired repeater and then lock the keypad. You make arrangements with your brothers and sisters to take turns monitoring the repeater using their own GMRS radios. Your GMRS license covers your mother and your siblings. The radios cost about $40 apiece and there is no monthly cost.