April 2024

DEC Bulletin

The subject matter that we are going to be discussing IS NOT the result of some locally generated, or ill-conceived thoughts on the operation of an ARES® Net.

The methods and skills are the result of “Trial-by-Fire”, in that they have been developed, tested, retested, modified, and tested again repeatedly. These methods and skills have been effective in floods, fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and just about every other type of disaster that humans can be exposed to, including motor vehicles, airplanes, and trains. We are not reinventing Emergency Communications (EMCOMM).

To be effective in our efforts to be of Assistance in Emergencies:

·         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 daily on our local repeaters.

·         This type of operation IS NOT conducive to the rapid transfer of vital information in an emergency.


Having a thorough knowledge of all your radios functions is essential for efficient operation under stress. Much more is needed than just changing frequencies and talking. This article is intended to give a good head start in satisfying the requirement for EMCOMM.



Messages can mean the difference between life or death. The emergency communications that we send are PURELY PROFESSIONAL. There is NO chatter, rumors, or speculation sent. There is NO broadcasting permitted, or NO personal opinions. ONLY Official authorized messages.



Messages must get through to the intended recipient. The messages must be clear and concise and they must be easily understood. The messages must be passed as quickly as possible. The types of  messages EMCOMM operators pass may mean the difference between loss of life (or property).


Listening is important to our success. You cannot hear what the message is if you are talking with someone else. We must stay focused on your assignment. We should be using headphones if we are in a noisy location or in a quiet zone such as an EOC or a shelter.


Microphone techniques are important in message handling. We talk across the mic element, not directly into it. The microphone should be held close to your cheek. We should speak at a normal rhythm. If you normally speak rapidly, you must slow down so the receiving station can keep up coping with what you are saying. We should speak in normal tones, do not whisper or shout. Above all (probably the biggest problem) enunciate the words clearly. DO NOT use the VOX circuits in the radio. We should pause prior to keying the microphone and listen to make sure the frequency is clear. Another station may have emergency traffic, and this gives them a chance to be heard.


Brevity and clarity is important. Each transmission should only contain the words necessary to pass the message. There should be No chit-chat or broadcasting. DO NOT add any non-essential chatter.  Think before you speak and know what you want to say. Then say exactly what you mean. Complete one subject at a time and do not mix messages.

Plain language must be used. We do not use any HAM jargon, no “Q” signals and no “10-codes”. We use Pro-words to aid in the transmissions. Pro-words can be used in daily chatting to become better acquainted with them.


Using the correct phonetics is important. We use ONLY the ITU phonetic alphabet. We DO NOT use any  humorous or cute phonetics. All numbers (figures) are pronounced individually during the transmission.


Next month we will have part two of this article.


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

Questions and comments 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

Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net