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

++++++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 

November 2019

DEC Bulletin

Last month I talked about what SKYWARN Spotters should do when we get the SKYWARN activation order. This month I have some after thoughts about things weather spotters should do. Then talk about some tool’s spotters should have in their Go-Bags while out spotting storms.

But first, we are called spotters because that is what the NWS (National Weather Service™) wants us to do. Spot and report back what we see. Their mission is the safety of lives and property in their County Warning Area (CWA). We provide their early warning defense.

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 to determine the best escape route in case the storm changes course. The best vantage point is on the right flank of the storm. From this vantage point the spotter can see what is coming behind the storm.

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 you 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. The D-Star mode brings some capabilities that are unique to the nets. We can use the same radio to communicate with and run D-RATS to send/receive low speed data spotter report forms with attached photos. D-Star also has its own form of APRS called D-PRS so we can follow the spotters 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. 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 on simplex frequencies or over a local D-Star repeater. However, with Internet and reflectors D-Star can be used to quickly setup a wide-area network. This would be especially effective in situations such as tornados where getting reports back to the state capital would be important. If you have an external GPS and tell D-RATS that it is attached to the computer then this eliminates the guess work as to exactly where you really are. It will read the coordinates from the GPS and insert them in the spotter report form for you.

Spotters should have navigational aids such as a Magellan or Garmin GPS unit for the vehicle, and a current paper map as a backup. 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 and Open Street maps are current maps for the laptops.

Having Cell phones for text messaging is also a good idea. The NWS is using social media now so having a Twitter account allows for notifying the NWS directly. 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 will also give the spotter a radar image to look at. 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 real 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 now and sending this information as an attachment using D-RATS to the NWS is simple.

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. Just as with EMCOMM there should be personal items, medications, blankets, water, first aid kits, items for the vehicle, flashlight (with spare batteries) 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 isn’t anywhere to recharge them. 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.

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

Lew Maxwell. KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6, WTX Section 

October 2019

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 isn’t 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 to 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 the 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’s 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’s 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.


RS-MS1A ANDROID APP NET on Wednesday, October 30 at 7:30 PM (MDT).

What is it: The Android App is an application you can download from the Google Play Store to your Android devise (phone or tablet).  For iOS users download RS-MS1l app from iTunes store onto your iOS devise (phone or tablet).  The iOS app will ONLY work with the ID-4100 radio.  The app allows us to do instant messaging, send photographs, and even has a map included so we can see exactly where each other is physically located.

Where is it: Reflector 055D.

What will be needed: An ICOM ID-31A, ID-51A PLUS, ID-51A PLUS2, ID-4100, ID-5100 or an IC-7100 radio. Some of the stations also use the DVAP or DV MEGA, and Raspberry Pi. The radio is connected to the app via the OPC-2350LU data cable. If the ID-4100 or the ID-5100 has the Bluetooth module installed, then the data cable is not needed. Connect the device via the Bluetooth.

What time: 7:30 PM (MDT).

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

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6, WTX Section 

 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  
DEC District 6 - Far West Texas
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net  
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