Who do Amateur’s Help Amateurs help anyone and everyone within the restrictions of their government charter. The most important restriction is that communications cannot involve any pecuniary (monetary) interest and my not be conducted on behalf of an employer. Locally, the Erie County ARES / RACES group supports: –The Tour De Cure (ADA) –The Ride for Roswell –The American Diabetes Walk –The Pumpkin Patrol –Others on an ad hoc basis (NYS DOH, National Guard)
ARRL & MOUs The American Radio Relay League has Memoranda of Understanding with the following organizations: –American Red Cross –National Weather Service –Department of Homeland Security – Citizens Corps –APCO International –National Communications System –National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers –Salvation Army –Society of Broadcast Engineers –United States Power Squadron –Quarter Century Wireless Association –Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams –Civil Air Patrol Details can be found at: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/mou/
Getting Started Amateur Radio is a licensed service governed by the Federal Communications System. In order to transmit within the Amateur Service frequencies, you must become licensed. There are 3 license levels each with more privileges: Technician, General and Extra Class. Information can be found at the American Radio Relay League’s website: http://www.arrl.org/http://www.arrl.org/ Special information for beginners can be found at: http://www.hello-radio.org/
Introduction to Network Operations Topics for CERT Members From the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course
Basic Communication Skills Listening is at least 50% of communications. Tune out distractions, use headphones, don’t transmit unless requested to do so. Microphone techniques: hold the microphone close to your cheek, and just off to the side of your mouth. Talk across, rather than into, the microphone. Speak in a normal, clear, calm voice. Speak at a normal pace. Pronounce words carefully, making sure to enunciate each syllable and sound. Key the microphone and count off “one, one thousand” before speaking.
Basic Communications Skills Brevity and Clarity – Each communication should consist of only the information necessary to get the message across clearly and accurately. Don’t use contractions like aren’t, isn’t, etc. Make your transmissions sound crisp and professional, like the police and fire radio dispatchers and air traffic controllers. Use plain language, don’t use jargon or codes
Basic Communications Skills Don’t use words or phrases that carry strong emotions. For instance, instead of saying “horrific damage and people torn to bits,” you might say “significant physical damage and serious personal injuries”. Phonetics – use the ITU phonetic alphabet to spell difficult or unusual words. Do not make up phonetics.
ITU Phonetic Alphabet A – alfa (AL-fa)N – november (no-VEM-ber) B – bravo (BRAH-voh)O – oscar (OSS-cah) C – charlie (CHAR-lee)P – papa (PAH-PAH) D – delta (DELL-tah)Q – quebec (kay-BECK) E – echo (ECK-oh)R – romeo (ROW-me-oh) F – foxtrot (FOKS-trot)S – sierra (SEE-air-rah) G – golf (GOLF)T – tango (TANG-go) H – hotel (HOH-tell)U – uniform (YOU-ni-form) I – india (IN-dee-ah)V – victor (VIK-tor) J – juliet (JU-lee-ett)W – whiskey (WISS-key) K – kilo (KEY-loh)X – x-ray (ECKS-ray) L – lima (LEE-mah)Y – yankee (YANG-key) M – mike (MIKE)Z – zulu (ZOO-loo)
Procedural Words Clear – End of contact, sent before final identification Over – Used to let a specific station know to respond Go ahead – Used to indicate that any station may respond Out – Leaving the air, will not be listening Stand By – A temporary interruption of the contact Roger – Indicates that a transmission has been received correctly and in full
Message Precedence The precedence tells everyone the relative urgency of a message. A common (ARRL) format allows for four levels of priority: Emergency – Use this for any message having life or death urgency and is usually signed by an authorized agency official. Priority – Use this for any important message with a time limit. Welfare – Use this for any inquiry as to the health and welfare of an individual in a disaster area or a message from a disaster victim to family or friends. Routine – Use this for any messages not of emergency, priority or welfare precedence. In a disaster situation, routine messages are seldom sent.
Tactical Call Signs Tactical call signs identify the station’s location or its purpose during an event, regardless of who is operating the station. Tactical call signs eliminate confusion at shift changes or at stations with multiple operators. Tactical call signs should be used for all emergency nets and public service events. Tactical call signs should have a meaning that matches the way the served agency identifies the location or function (EOC = Grand Island Emergency Operations Center, Sidway = Sidway Shelter, Stony Point = Stony Point Fire Hall)
Open and Directed Nets Networks can be one of two types: Open and Directed. Open (informal) nets have no network control station guiding the order of transmissions. Stations may call each other directly. The number of stations and messages and few in number. Directed (formal) nets have a network control station or NCS which organizes and controls all net activities. One station wishing to call or send a message to another must first receive permission from the NCS. This is done so that messages with a higher priority will be handled first, and that all messages will be handled in an orderly fashion.
Calling with Tactical Call Signs The correct procedure for making a call on a directed net is to say the tactical call sign of the station you are calling first and then your own tactical call sign. For example, if you are “Aid 3” during a directed net and want to contact the net control station (NCS), you would say “Net, Aid 3”, or in crisper nets (and where the NCS is paying close attention), simply “Aid 3”. If you had emergency traffic, you would say, “Aid 3, emergency traffic”. If you have traffic for a specific location such as Firebase 5, you would say “Aid3, priority traffic for Firebase 5”. This tells the NCS everything needed to correctly direct the message. If there is no other traffic holding, the NCS would call Firebase 5 with “Firebase 5, call Aid 3 for priority traffic”.
Completing a Call After the message has been sent, you would complete the call from Aid 3 by simply stating your tactical call sign, “Aid 3”. This tells the NCS that the exchange is complete and attention can continue with the next piece of net business. If you forget to end your message with your tactical call sign, the NCS may query you “Aid 3, do you have any further traffic?” At that point, you would either continue with your traffic, or “clear” by identifying as above.
Message Authoring One of the oldest arguments in emcomm is the question of whether or not emcomm personnel should author (create) agency-related official messages. The best answer is no. “Pure” communicators are not generally in a position to create messages on behalf of the served agency. They have no direct authority and usually lack necessary knowledge.
Message Security & Privacy Information transmitted over most radio frequencies is not protected by the Federal Communications Privacy Act. This includes all amateur, citizens band, family radio, general mobile radio and land mobile services. Anything overheard may be legally revealed or discussed. Your served agency should be made aware of this issue, and must decide which types of messages can be sent over radio channels. FCC rules prohibit the use of any code designed to obscure a message’s actual meaning. Anyone with a scanner can hear all that is said on voice networks. Some agencies use a system of “fill in the blank” data gathering forms with numbered lines. To save time, all that is sent is “Line 1, 23, Line 5, 20%, line 7, zero.” The receiving station just fills in the identical form. Without the form, the casual listener will not have any real information. As long as encryption is not the primary intent, this practice should not violate FCC rules.
Net Operations – The NCS Directed networks always have a Network Control Station or NCS. Think of the NCS as the “ringmaster” or “traffic cop”. The NCS decides what happens in the net, and when. He decides when stations check in, with or with out traffic and what traffic will be passed on what frequency and in what order. The NCS needs to be aware of everything going on around him and handle the needs of the net, its members and the served agency as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Net Operations - Scripts Many established nets have pre-set opening and closing scripts. The text of the scripts lets listeners know the purpose and format of the net. Using a standard script also ensures that the net will be run in a similar format each time it operates, regardless of who is acting as the NCS.
Net Operations - Opening The following is the opening script for the Western New York Emergency Net: Calling the Western New York Emergency Net, Calling the Western New York Emergency Net, this is WB2ECR, net control. If there is any emergency traffic on frequency, call WB2ECR now." Listen for traffic "This net is held every Sunday at 1900 hours on the 146.865 MHz. and 443.525 MHz. WB2ECR repeaters. Both have a positive offset and a PL of 151.4. This net is sponsored by ARES/RACES of Western New York. This is a directed net; all licensed amateurs are invited to check in. When checking in, please call WB2ECR, drop the repeater, then give your call-sign and state if you have any comments for the net. " "We will now take check-ins from ARES/RACES officials only. Please call WB2ECR now." Acknowledge Check-ins "We will now take check-ins from portables/mobiles only. Please call WB2ECR now." Acknowledge Check-ins "We will now take check-ins from base stations. Please call WB2ECR now." Acknowledge Check-ins Make announcements Call officials with traffic. Call portables and mobiles with traffic. Call general bases stations with traffic. Second call for general check-ins.
Net Operations - Closing The following is the closing script for the Western New York Emergency net: "This is WB2ECR/(Your Call) closing the Western New York Emergency Net, thanking all stations who checked in and thanking the repeater trustee for the use of the repeater and now returning the repeater back to normal amateur use. Thank you and good evening."
Net Operations - Logging Messages passed over the network should be recorded by some means. This could be an analog or digital recorder set up next to the NCS station or it could be a set of hand written notes with the date, time, tactical call signs and message summary of each message. Many served agencies will request a log of all messages sent on their behalf at the conclusion of network operations. If possible, the NCS should have another person act as a logger to increase efficiency.
Net Operations – Checking In In directed net operations, you must wait for the NCS to call for new check-ins. Listen for and follow specific instructions regarding the check-in procedure. At the appropriate time, give only your tactical call sign. If you have a message to pass, you can add “with traffic”.
Net Operations – Breaking In If the net is in progress and you have emergency traffic to send, you may need to “break” into the net. Wait for a pause between transmissions and simply say “Break” and your tactical call sign: “Break, Huth Road”. The NCS will say, “Go ahead, Huth Road” You will respond, “Huth Road with emergency traffic.” Wait for instructions from the NCS before passing your traffic.
Net Operations – Passing Messages When you are asked by the NCS to send your message, the standard procedure is for the NCS to tell the receiving station to call the sending station. The entire exchange might sound like this (the NCS’ tactical call sign is EOC): EOC: Firebase, list your traffic. Firebase: EOC, one priority for Sidway, two welfare for GIHS. NCS: Sidway, call Firebase for your traffic. Sidway: Firebase, Sidway, ready for your traffic, over. Firebase: Be advised additional casualties arriving your location in 30 minutes, over. Sidway: Roger message, Sidway After you have sent your message to Sidway, the NCS will direct GIHS to call you for their messages. When you have finished all your messages end your exchange with: Firebase: Firebase back to EOC.
Net Operations – Checking Out Always let the NCS know when you are leaving the net, even if only for a few minutes. If the NCS believes that you are still in the net, they may become concerned about your unexplained absence and dispatch someone to check on your welfare. If you are checking out because your location is closing, advise the NCS of the new status and the authorizing authority and then sign off with your tactical call sign. If you are checking out for a break and there is no relief operator, advise the NCS of your return time and sign with your tactical call sign. If your checking out and are turning over your station to another operator, advise the NCS of the new operator’s name and sign with your tactical call sign.
Habits to Avoid Speculating on anything relating to an emergency. Changing a message, pass it exactly as written or spoken Thinking aloud on the air”: “Ahhh let me see. Hmm. Well, you know, if …” On-air arguments or criticism Rambling commentaries Shouting into your microphone “Cute” phonetics Identifying every time you key or un-key the microphone Using “10” codes, Q-signals or anything other than plain language Speaking without planning your message in advance (think twice, speak once) Talking just to pass the time