Rescuers are always in emergency. These are cases in which rescuers must rise the alarm and warn people at risk. But it’s easier said than done, especially in case of natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes. The main difficulty to face is the communcation.
In such cases, a correct communication of guidelines among rescuers and people is very important, and it should take place without obstacles. But many times happens that noises or bad signal could compromise the communication.
This is why NATO studied a specific phonetic code, according to which, each letter of the alphabet with a specific word, so that important messages could be received in the correct way.
The NATO phonetic alphabet reached its integrity in 1956, after many years of adjustments.
In 1920, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) produced the first globally known phonetic alphabet and it was composed by some wolrd’s cities and states names:
Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark, Edison, Florida, Gallipoli, Havana, Italia, Jerusalem, Kilogramme, Liverpool, Madagascar, New York, Oslo, Paris, Quebec, Roma, Santiago, Tripoli, Uppsala, Valencia, Washington, Xanthippe, Yokohama, Zurich.
In 1941, US military forces adopted the “Able Baker Alphabet” to communicate:
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Sugar, Tare, Uncle, Victor, William, X-ray, Yoke, Zebra
Two years later, the British Royal Air Force decided to use this phonetic alphabet, too.
These alphabet contained few English words. For the new version of the phonetic alphabet, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) decided to incorporate other sounds common for English, French and Spanish, and became effective in 1951 only for civil aviation:
Alfa, Bravo, Coca, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Gold, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Metro, Nectar, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Union, Victor, Whiskey, eXtra, Yankee, Zulu
The International Civil Aviation Organization (IACO) proposed a change for some letters of the alphabet, i.e. C, M, N, U and X, but the debate continued for what concerned the letter N. On 8 April 1955, the North Atlantic Military Committee Standing Group affirmed that whether or not IATO approval, the phonetic alphabet would “be adopted and made effective for NATO use on 1 January 1956”.
On 21 February 1956, Member States have been warned “that the new Phonetic Alphabet is to be made effective in NATO 1 March 1956”.
The so called NATO Alphabet is known as follows:
ALFA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, ECHO, FOXTROT, GOLF, HOTEL, INDIA, JULIETT, KILO, LIMA, MIKE, NOVEMBER, OSCAR, PAPA, QUEBEC, ROMEO, SIERRA, TANGO, UNIFORM, VICTOR, WHISKEY, X-RAY, YANKEE, ZULU