Emergency Coordination

                                                      Emergency Coordinator's Page                                                                     
(Previous articles can be found on the sub-pages at the bottom of this page)
Direct all questions about this page to kb5hpt@arrl.net

++++++ARES® Membership++++++

Qualifications for membership in El Paso County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (EPCARES) are as follows:

  1. Have the following credentials:

a.       ICS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System

b.      ICS-200 ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

c.       IS-700 NIMS, an Introduction

d.      IS-800 National Response Framework (NRF), an Introduction

e.       Intro to Emergency Communication (EC-001). See EC-001 course catalog at http://www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog. Click on the Registration Page to get started.

Candidates should submit an ARES® Registration Form (fsd98) along with copies of the above certificates of completion. Send them to kb5hpt@arrl.net.

By submitting your application for membership in ARES® you have indicated the following:

  1. You have registered your qualifications and communications equipment for use in public service during a communications emergency.
  2. You can work in a controlled environment.
  3. You have a desire to make a contribution to your community.

++++++EPCARES Mission Statement Is:++++++


Our Core Values Are: 

 Confidence             Commitment         Excellence

Respect                   Integrity


Tuesday July 7, 2020. This net will run each Tuesday (except 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) for 24 hours. Check in time is from 12:00 AM through 11:59 PM. Address messages to Lew, KB5HPT, DEC, Dist.6, WTX Section.

Next week’s agenda

Check back here for next week’s Winlink Tuesday Net's agenda. I will do my best to post it here, and in the Files Repository (W5ELP) on the AE5HE RATflector by the close of business on Friday. See Real-time Communication and Coordination below to get instructions on how to load D-RATS.

The stations checking into this net are encouraged to use the ARES GO-BOX with the NVIS antenna. We will allow the use of a home station while the Go Box is being put together. The use of EOC stations is also encouraged.

Sending Messages

The HF Mode of the week will be ARDOP Winlink or VARA HF Winlink. Please use the WA5TED RMS as primary target otherwise use best available. We would like to use all West Texas Section assets if possible. Use ARDOP P2P or VARA P2P on the frequency and time shown below. Be sure that the forms are filled out Accurately. They should be Complete and Concise. For these training exercises any box where a description is entered it should be preceded with "Exercise, Exercise".


My HF station will be on the air from 8:30 AM through 10:30 AM (MDT) for ARDOP P2P, and 5 PM through 7 PM (MDT) for VARA P2P each Tuesday. 

REMINDER: As of June 30 everyone should update to VARA HF v4.0.0. (I see VARA HF v4.0.3 is now available). Version 4 is NOT compatible with earlier versions.

The Center frequency is 7.063.50 MHz.

The VHF mode of the week will be Packet Winlink. Please use the KB5HPT-10 Packet RMS on 145.010 MHz simplex (Packet Winlink ONLY at the present time) as primary target. Use Packet P2P or VARA FM P2P on 145.650 MHz simplex. The on-air time and mode for the P2P session is the same as the HF times.

If all the above methods to check in fails, then use Telnet Winlink.



Forms Used.

1. The Winlink Check-in form is found in Winlink Express Template Manager. Click on New Message icon, then click on Select Template. In the Template Manager expand the Standard Templates. Scroll down to the General Forms and expand it. Highlight Winlink Check-in.txt and click on Select at the top of the page. For the SETUP select one of the following:

    a. For local ARES members enter El Paso Co, District 6, WTX Section.

    b. For ARES members outside of district 6 use your County, District number and Section                designation.

    c. We welcome non-ARES members too. In this case enter your Call Sign, County and State.

    d.  If this check-in is from an EOC be sure to identify it in the Comments box.

2. Bulletin.txt is found in Winlink Express Template Manager. Click on the New Message icon, then click on Select Template. In the Template Manager expand the Standard Templates. Scroll down to the General Forms and expand it. Scroll down to Bulletin.txt and highlight the form. Click on Select at the top of the page. 

    a. For the SETUP: use the same guidelines as for the Winlink Check-in Form item a, b,or c above. 

    b. Make the bulletin subject about an upcoming event in your group or club. You can make it about your personal plans for the summer, etc. 

    c. Double check to see that the form is accurate, complete and concise then submit the form. Click OK. 

    d. In the New Message form address the message and check the NOTE: above. Then click on Post to Outbox and send the message.

3. ICS-309 Communication Log. Generate an ICS-309 for this session. On the Winlink Express main page click on Message. Then click on Generate ICS-309 Communication Log. Set up the form for this session as appropriate then click on Generate ICS-309. At the end of the session repeat this process and the form will be filled in for you. Save this form for future reference. 

Real time Communications and Coordination

If there is a question during the net, maybe something is not understood or a frequency needs to changed here is a way to get the situation resolved.  

How to Load D-RATS

1. Go to https://groups.io/g/d-rats/topics and join the group.

2. When approved click on the Files Tab on the left side of the page.

3. Click on D-RATS Program Files and select the latest version of D-RATS. The WIN XP also works on WIN10.

4. Download the file and install it. When the CONFIG page pops up fill in your Call Sign then click SAVE. 

How to Connect to the AE5HE Ratflector

1. Click on File>>Preferences>>Radio.

2. Click ADD and in the ADD Port box give it a name of your choosing

        a.TYPE is Network

        b. Host Address is: ae5he.ham-radio-op.net

        c. Port is 9000

        d. Password leave blank

        e. In the Radio page uncheck the ENABLE Boxes of the other Ratflectors that maybe checked.

3. We will meet in the El Paso Chat Room

        a. Click on join channel

        b. Enter El_Paso in the box

        c. Click OK

        d. Click Save

4. Then click on the #El_Paso Tab at the bottom of the CHAT Page. You will then be in the El_Paso   Chat Room.

5. To find the File Repository on D-RATS follow these instructions.

        a. In D-RATS click on the FILES TAB.

        b. In the Station box click the drop-down arrow and select W5ELP

        c. If W5ELP is not displayed in the Stations List hover the mouse over the Stations List area    and right click. Select Ping All Stations.

        d. With W5ELP selected click Connect.

        e. When the files populate the box below select Winlink Tuesday.txt. There may be more            than one file. Get all with that label.

        f. Click Disconnect when finished.

        g. To read the file go the the D-RATS Shared folder on your desktop and open the Winlink        Tuesday Net file.


DEC, District 6, WTX Section

July 2020

DEC Bulletin

What will you need/should do prior to an actual SKYWARN® Activation? There is more to spotting than just setting in that easy chair and responding to a net. SKYWARN® Spotters must be prepared for activation. SKYWARN® Spotting could require deployment to a field location where the vehicle is the only cover. Our job as spotters is to report information or confirm information that the National Weather Service (NWS) does not have. So, we may be required to go to a safe location where we can get a good look at the approaching storm and collect information.

There is a plan (SOP) in place for SKYWARN® Spotters in the El Paso area. The SKYWARN® Weather Spotter.pdf on http://www.hamradioelpaso.com/emergency-coordination. This is a copy of our SOP. Without a plan, any unprepared response to activations would certainly wind up being a disaster and an embarrassment.

There are some things that should become a daily routine. One thing is that visiting the NWS website https://www.weather.gov/epz/, and look at the seven-day forecasts. I might point out that long range forecasts are not set in stone. The further out the more unpredictable they could be. Changes will happen. At any rate, an idea of what to expect can be made. Will there be a possibility of an activation in the coming days?

The next item to check is the Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO). This is more specific and more up to date forecasting. At the bottom of the report a Spotter Activation Statement is given. Pay attention to this statement. There is not a given time that the report must be put out so be sure to check back frequently to get todays statement.

Another tool is to look at the Storm Prediction Centers website http://www.spc.noaa.gov/. There are many different tools available on this website that could be beneficial to getting a better idea of the short-term predications.

Is the Go-Bag ready and loaded? Have the last-minute items been put in the bag? It would be a good idea to make a check list of items that should be in the Go-Bag. When the bag is loaded in the vehicle DO NOT put it in the trunk. It should be where it can be reached without getting out of the vehicle.

Batteries, batteries, batteries. It is important to remind everyone to take stock of the different types and number of spare batteries that will be used. Make sure they are charged, loaded and ready to go.

I have put a couple of pages of ideas of what should go into a Go-Bag on http://www.hamradioelpaso.com/emergency-coordination. The Disaster Supply Kit and Last-Minute Disaster Supply Kit Items. Just remember that the bags are geared mainly for weather spotting.

Paperwork is in everything that we do. Make a log and keep copies of reports called in to the NCS/NWS in case something comes into question later.

Next is the vehicle that is going to be used. Is it ready for deployment? Has the fuel tank been topped off? Is the vehicle maintenance up to date? Are the windshield wipers and tires in good shape? Has the Go-Bag been checked and loaded? Is it complete? It would be a good idea to create a To-Do-List so that everything can be listed and then checked off. That way nothing gets overlooked or forgotten.

Now a little bit about the nets. When the NWS issues an Advisory that severe weather is imminent spotters should start making plans for activation. In other words, start charging batteries. Start listening to the Amigo Link, but otherwise continue with the daily routine. It is business as usual. When a Warning is issued, we will convene a SKYWARN® Net on the Amigo Link. Continue to make ready for deployment. Load equipment. When a Watch is issued a deployment could be imminent. Be ready for deployment orders. If the WX5ELP station is going to be activated at the NWS, we will usually have plenty of notice. I will send out emails giving everyone advanced warning that WX5ELP is going to be on the air. I will also put out QST’s on the Amigo Link advising of the activation. If you are a trained SKYWARN® Spotter and are not on my email list send an email to kb5hpt@arrl.net and I will add you to the list.

Being a SKYWARN® Spotter is not a job that is taken lightly. This is not part of the hobby amateur radio. It is the service amateur radio which gives it a completely different meaning. Submitting accurate reports is why we take the spotter training. Accurate reporting is what make radio amateurs an asset in the reporting system. The NWS is responsible for saving lives and property. They depend on the spotters to give them accurate reports so that they can make the correct decisions. Knowingly submitting a false report to the NWS is in violation of the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996 (18 USC §1001). It carries a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

Questions and comments regarding the content of this article are welcome and encouraged. Send an email to the address shown below.

SKYWARN® and the SKYWARN® logo are registered trademark of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, used by permission.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6, WTX Section
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

June 2020

DEC Bulletin

The North American Monsoon Season will begin on June 15 and will run through September 30. For those that just completed their basic SKYWARN training I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about some of the things weather spotters should do and have in their possession while out spotting storms. As you have found out the training does not talk about how amateur radio is used during spotting. I am in no way suggesting that you should rush out and purchase all the equipment I am about to mention in these articles. They are nice to have items that would help you out.

Safety is of course first and foremost in weather spotting. Always pick a vantage point where you are not in the path of the storm. Keep a safe distance from the storm. Have a map of the area available to determine the best escape route in case the storm changes course. The best vantage point is on the right rear flank of the storm. From this vantage point the spotter can see what is coming behind the current storm. Unfortunately, we in the desert southwest cannot always have this vantage point due to the Mexican border.

Form a team of two people. One is the driver and concentrates only on driving and the road conditions. The other person is the navigator, spotter, and radio operator. The radio operator should always be in contact with the net control station if a net is in progress. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to have a fixed station on frequency that is aware spotters are in the field and near the storm. The net control station or fixed station should also have a radar image available and can warn the mobile spotters in the field of possible storms coming up behind them.

Our station out at the El Paso NWS can handle HF, UHF/VHF FM, or UHF/VHF Digital (D-Star) reports.

Having an APRS tracker in the vehicle is another asset. This way we at the NWS can track your location on APRS.FI while in the field.

The D-Star mode brings some capabilities that are unique to the nets. We can use the same radio to receive voice reports and run D-RATS to send/receive low speed data spotter report forms and attach photos to the form. D-Star also has its own form of APRS called D-PRS so we can follow the spotters with D-Star radios in the field on the Internet. A word of advice when using D-PRS set the radio to beacon position information only when the PTT is depressed. As net control operators at the NWS we are only interested in the position you are in while on site. We will see the bread crumb droppings as you key the radio and report while in route. We can determine your path and have your back. D-Star does not necessarily have to have the Internet present. It also works great simplex or over a local D-Star repeater. However, D-Star can be used to quickly setup a wide-area network with the use of the Internet and reflectors. This would be especially effective in situations such as tornados where getting reports back to the state capital would be important. D-RATS has a map which is provided by Thunderforest Maps (https://www.thunderforest.com). There are different overlays that can be displayed. One is the Landscape and this overlay shows contour lines. Tell D-RATS that an external GPS receiver is attached eliminates the guess work as to exactly where you really are. It will read the coordinates from the GPS and insert them in the report form for you.

Have navigational aids such as a Magellan or Garmin GPS unit for the vehicle, and an up to date regular paper map as a backup is a good idea. City and county maps will assist in finding escape routes. Topographical maps provide contour lines and elevation that can assist in determining a suitable location to spot from. Google Earth maps are current maps for the laptops.

Cell phones for text messaging and having a Twitter account is also a good idea for notifying directly to the NWS. Seeing as how the NWS is using social media now. Cell phones can keep spotters aware of the latest watches and warnings put out by the NWS. Having an app on the phone such as Weather Bug or something similar will also give the spotter a radar image to look at to determine what is coming behind the current storm. It can also tell the spotter what towns or cities might be in the storm’s path. The cell phone can also double as a still photo camera or can be used as a video camera. Pictures speak a thousand words as they say.

Having a handheld anemometer will come in handy for taking wind speed readings. The handheld units also provide much more information as well. Plus, some of them will upload the data to a laptop and sending this information as an attachment using D-RATS to the NWS would be useful as well.

Another good tool to have in the toolbox is a good strong pair of binoculars. They will help in viewing the cloud rotation or a better look at other parts of the cloud.

Go-Kits…just the same as in EMCOMM, weather spotters should have a go-kit that is taken every time a spotter goes mobile. Plan from a few hours up to a few days just in case. This go-kit is especially built for storm spotting. I would recommend looking at the ARRL Operating Manual in the Emergency Communication Chapter for a list on items to have in the Go-Kit but, tailor it for storm spotting.

I have mentioned a lot of the equipment that would be found in the go-kit above. But, just as with EMCOMM there should be personal items, medications, blankets, water, first aid kits, items for the vehicle, spare batteries, flashlight, and a copy of the Basic and/or Advanced Spotters Guide. Keep the vehicle ready for emergencies. Have a set of jumper cables and a shovel on board. If a handheld radio is taken have spare dry cell batteries on hand. Purchase the dry cell battery pack for the radio. When the rechargeable batteries go dead in the field there is not anywhere to recharge them.

Keep reading. Next month we will discuss what spotters should do during pre-activation. In August we will discuss the activation, and we will discuss post- activation.

Questions and comments concerning this article are always welcome and encouraged. Send an email to the address shown below.

SKYWARN® and the SKYWARN® logo are registered trademark of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, used by permission.

Lew Maxwell. KB5HPT
DEC, District 6, WTX Section
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

 Previous articles can be found on the subpages links towards the bottom of this page.

++++++EPCARES Data Operators++++++

ARES® Digital Operators: Positions are available for ARES® Digital Operators within the El Paso County ARES® (EPCARES). Required stations are as follows:
                        a. Winlink 2000; VHF Packet Station capable of Winlink Express and Paclink
                        b. Winlink 2000; HF Station capable of WINMOR, ARDOP HF, VARA HF and VARA FM.
                        c. Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS); VHF/HF Station

++++++ Amateur Radio Communications Teams (ARCT) ++++++

ARCT Type 1 

Full field station and 4 mobile/portable units. For single or multiple agency support. Is not dependant on any outside power source or infrastructure. Team consists of 12 licensed and registered AROs with ten (minimum) vehicles. Team Leader (General class or higher). Liaison to the incident Communications Coordinator (COMC). Assistant Team Leader (General class or higher) Capable of VHF/UHF digital/voice, HF digital communications for tactical and voice communications for logistics, health/welfare, administrative, and other radio traffic.

ARCT Type 2

4 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Team leader (General class or higher). Capable of VHF/UHF & HF digital/voice communications for tactical, logistics, health/welfare, administrative, and other radio traffic.

ARCT Type 3 (Multiple)

4 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Team Leader (Technician class or higher). Capable of VHF/UHF digital/voice communications for tactical, logistics, health/welfare, administrative, and other radio traffic.

ARCT Type 4 (Multiple)

For assignment to agency or supplemental/relieve an existing multi-agency ARCT. 2 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Technician class or higher. Capable of VHF FM (minimum) equipped w/digital capabilities. HF desired w/digital capabilities (General class or higher required).

ARCT Type 5 (Multiple)

For assignment to agency or supplemental/relieve an existing multi-agency ARCT. 1 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operator with a vehicle. Rarely ordered singly. 1 VHF FM (Minimum) with vehicle (Technician class or higher).

++++++SKYWARN® Coordinator Wanted++++++

Person/s interested in the SKYWARN® Coordinator position must have the following qualifications:

  • Active in the  SKYWARN® spotting program.
  • Two years active SKYWARN® field spotting.
  • Must travel to the National Weather Service in Santa Teresa, NM when activated and for bimonthly SKYWARN® nets.
  • Must be General class or above.
  • Must be D-Star/D-RATS qualified.

Interested person/s must contact Lew, KB5HPT at kb5hpt@arrl.net 

The terms Amateur Radio Emergency Service and ARES are both registered trademarks of the 
American Radio Relay League Inc. and are used by permission.  

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT  
DEC, District 6, WTX Section
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net  
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:16 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Jan 30, 2017, 10:09 AM
Ham Radio El Paso,
Jun 8, 2013, 7:34 AM
Lewis Maxwell,
Oct 18, 2016, 11:36 AM
Lewis Maxwell,
Jul 27, 2017, 1:04 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:18 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:12 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Apr 18, 2011, 5:51 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:34 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
May 30, 2020, 5:05 PM