Emergency Coordination

Emergency Coordinator's Bulletins

Image result for arrl logoThumbnail for version as of 15:58, 19 July 2007

(Previous articles can be found on the sub-pages links at the bottom of this page)

++++++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) http://www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog

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 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
                        c. Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS); VHF/HF Station

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

ARCT Type 2 (2 each for American Red Cross & 2 each for Salvation Army)

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. HF desired (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).

June 2017

EC Bulletin

The El Paso D-Star/D-RATS net is undergoing a facelift to become a better net. Old traditions are hard to let go of sometime, but there comes a time when they are just plain out of date and new traditions should be created. The digital modes have opened a new opportunity for conducting nets in different ways. Attracting check-ins is what makes a net successful because without check-ins there would not be a net.

This topic started out as a discussion with Paul, K9PTF in Chelsea, AL and myself to standardized a format for advertising D-Star nets and other announcements on the D-RATS RATflectors. It quickly turned into how we can change the format on the El Paso D-Star/D-RATS net to make the net run smoother and more efficient. We started out the conversation on the D-RATS net for the Alabama D-Star Net and then moved to emails.

The topic of early check-ins came up, and how we can make the net run smoother. Some people in different time zones like to check into nets early and give their comments at the top of the net, and then move on to another net. Having early voice check-ins on reflectors, and RATflectors for those that run D-RATS nets concurrent with their voice nets helps the net control set the lineup for starting the net. It also decreases the amount of stations doubling during the regular check in period at the top of the net.  

If I might digress for a moment. I’d like to say something about doubling on D-Star as opposed to analog. This is a problem that all nets have whether it’s an analog or digital net. Remember that analog audio is represented as a voltage level. D-Star audio is represented as a binary one or a zero in the form of packets. When two stations double on the analog repeaters we have all heard the grunge that the repeater retransmits. One of the beauties of the D-Star repeaters is that when packet crashes occur the repeater will not retransmit them. All we hear is dead air. Sometimes this is referred to as the “D-Star deep dark hole”. Nothing is heard until the repeaters/reflectors reset themselves. Therefore, it is important to not tailgate, and give the previous stations transmissions time to completely drop before the next station keys up their radio. It only takes a couple of seconds to do this.

Now let me get back to my original topic. The El Paso D-Star/D-RATS Net has implemented a Chat Room on the AE5HE RATflector during the D-RATS portion of the net. Sometimes other people will be on the RATflector having conversations and not be a part of the net. Which is perfectly okay. But, those conversations can be distracting for those who are participating in the net. Creating a Chat Room separates the two conversations. It is simple to get into a chat room on D-RATS. On the Chat Tab click on JOIN CHANNEL and enter “El_Paso” (without the quotes) in the text box and click OK. You will find a #El_Paso tab at the bottom of the Chat Pane. Click on the tab and you are in the El Paso Chat Room.

We will start taking early check-ins for the net at 7 PM (Mountain time) in the Chat Room and on the reflector 055A. Tell us if you have comments for the voice net and we will add you to the rotation. If you are a D-RATS check-in only, but would like to leave a comment or announcement for the net we will read it over the air. You may secure your station at your convenience. Although, there have been times when the D-RATS portion of the net has gone on long after the voice portion of the net has ended. Different topics spawn different ideas and comments which is good for the nets. It gets people active and enjoying the net. I am running some other changes around in my head and will announce them later. It’s all in the name of getting the net to run smoother and more efficient, and giving more air time for the check-ins to air their comments.

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

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
ARRL Emergency Coordinator – El Paso, County
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

May 2017

EC Bulletin

Basic communications skills and techniques should be practiced and used not just in our emergency communications but in our public service events as well. EMCOMM is the ARRL acronym that stands for EMergency COMMunications. Public Service Events is a good opportunity to get some meaningful EMCOMM training in under less stressful conditions. With talk of getting amateur radio involved in races, Airsho’s, parades etc. again it would behoove us to be at our best when in the public’s eye.

These techniques and skills about to be discussed are the result of "Trial-by-Fire", in that they have been developed, tested, retested, modified and tested again, repeatedly. They have been proven effective in floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and just about every other type of disaster that humans can be exposed to including disasters involving motor vehicles, airplanes and trains.

To be an effective EMCOMM or Public Service Event operator in our efforts to be of assistance we must work to develop skills and techniques that will complement our willingness to serve. As licensed operators, we are very familiar with the casual chats and banter that is carried on daily on the local repeaters. This type of operating IS NOT conducive to the rapid transfer of vital information in an emergency.

Why emergency communications skills are different is because messages that are passed can mean the difference between life and death, or lose of property. Emergency communications are PURELY PROFESSIONAL. There is NO chatter, rumors or speculation. No broadcasting is permitted, and no personal opinions are offered. Official authorized messages only are transmitted.

Basic communications skills start with the messages must get through to the intended recipient. It must be clear and concise and easily understood. It must be passed quickly because it may mean the difference between loss of life (or property)

Being an EMCOMM operator or an operator at a Public Service Event is not to be taken lightly. Listening to and observing your surroundings are essential. You cannot hear what is being transmitted over the radio if you are busy talking. Stay focused on your assignment. Have a pair of headphones and use them in a noisy location otherwise important information/data may be missed (or misunderstood). If something looks out of place or does not belong there report it. DO NOT wander from your assigned position. Moving to another location is NOT your decision to make unless your life is at stake. Part of our job is the safety of the spectators at the public service events.

Microphone techniques are very important. They must be used correctly. Talk across the mic element, not directly into it. Hold microphone close to your cheek. Speak at a normal rhythm. If you normally speak rapidly slow down, and speak in normal tones do not whisper or shout. Enunciate your words clearly. Do not use the VOX as your radio will transmit unexpectedly. It could possibly be blocking out an emergency message in progress. Pause prior to keying the microphone. Another station may have emergency traffic, and this gives them a chance to be heard.

Each transmission should only contain the words necessary to pass the message. No chitchat or broadcasting should be done on the air. No non-essential chatter, speculation or rumors are permitted. Think before you speak and say exactly what you mean. You should complete one subject at a time. Do not mix messages. Plain language must be used on voice transmissions. No HAM jargon, no "Q" signals and no "10-Codes" are used. There is NO such thing as "common spelling". We use ONLY the ITU phonetic alphabet. DO NOT use the APCO phonetic alphabet. DO NOT use humorous or cute phonetics. Numbers (figures) are always pronounced individually. Pro-Words should be used. Clear, over, go-ahead, stand-by, roger. For Fills, "say again all before/after........." etc.

Tactical Call Signs should be used. They could be assigned for each station in the net. Using tactical calls makes it easier on the net control, and will immediately identify your station and the station that your traffic is destined for. When calling with tactical call signs use the tactical call of called station first followed by your tactical call sign. For example: Net, Aid3 this tells the NCS that you have traffic to pass and that Aid3 station is the calling station. You do not need to announce your FCC call sign now.

Give your FCC assigned call sign at the END of each complete exchange. What is a complete exchange? Information exchanges on emergency nets will NOT take ten minutes to complete normally. Rendering your FCC call sign at the completion of each exchange serves two purposes. It satisfies the FCC requirement to identify at 10 minute intervals during an exchange, and at the completion of each exchange. Number two, by announcing your FCC call sign at the competition of the message tells the NCS or the receiving station that you have NOTHING FURTHER, and that you are continuing to monitor the net.

Allowing Critical Responders to speak over the radio is allowed by FCC Regulations [97.115(B)(1)]. Often, the terminology used will not be part of the radio operator’s vocabulary. Most of us don't speak the language of Doctors, Paramedics, Firemen, Police Officers, etc. Direct conversation between critical responders saves time (time may be essential in life saving) and, eliminates errors in translation (which could cost lives). The licensed operator is present, and is in control the radio. A record of the individual speaking over your radio should be noted.

WHAT YOU SEE (HEAR) THERE, LEAVE THERE. At your assigned duty station, you may be exposed to "INSIDER" (proprietary) information that should/must not be revealed outside of that establishment. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE DISCUSSED OUTSIDE OF THAT PLACE OF BUSINESS, WITH ANYONE. Criminal Acts ARE NOT proprietary information and MUST be disclosed to proper authority. Who should be notified depends on the position / authority of the violator. Perhaps the safest bet is to notify the ARES® EC, and let that individual determine the best approach to reporting. It is extremely important that amateur radio volunteers establish and maintain a trusted and respected relationship with those we serve.

So, having a thorough knowledge of all your radio's functions is essential for efficient operation under stress. But to be an efficient and effective EMCOMM or Public Service Event operator many more skills and more techniques are needed than just changing frequencies and talking.

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

Lew Maxwell. KB5HPT
ARRL Emergency Coordinator, El Paso County
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

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

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  
ARRL Emergency Coordinator, El Paso County  
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,
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,
Sep 28, 2016, 9:25 AM