May 2024

DEC Bulletin

We will continue from where we left off with our discussion last month about Basic Communications Skills in EMCOMM.

Tactical Call Signs

Tactical Call Signs will be assigned for each station during a disaster. Tactical Call signs will identify a unique station in a net without using a call sign. They will immediately identify the calling station and the station that your traffic is destined for. EX: “Aid 2 this is Aid 3”. In this example “Aid” is a short name for a First Aid Station.


Calling with Tactical Call Signs

To make a call with tactical call signs use the tactical call of called station first, followed by your tactical call. EX: “Net, Aid 3” this tells the Net Control Station that you have traffic to pass and that the Aid 3 station is the calling station. You do not need to announce your FCC call sign now.


Station Identification

Give your FCC call sign at the end of each complete exchange [§97.119 9 (a)]. During the exchange, use only your tactical call sign. Information exchanges on an EMERGENCY net will normally NOT take ten (10) minutes to complete. Rendering your FCC call sign at the completion of each exchange serves two (2) purposes.

1.       It satisfies the FCC requirement to identify at 10-minute intervals during an exchange, and at the completion of each exchange.

2.       Announcing your FCC call sign tells the NCS or the receiving station that you have NOTHING FURTHER and that you are continuing to monitor the net.


Completing a call

Complete a call by giving your tactical call AND your FCC call sign. EX: Aid 3, KB5HPT. The called station now knows that you have nothing further.


Habits to avoid

1.       Thinking out loud while on the air. It wastes net time. Think about what you are going to say before pressing the PTT. Then press the PTT and say exactly what you thought about saying.

2.       On-air arguments or criticism. On an EMCOMM net is not the place for these things. It wastes net time. Keep it PROFESSIONAL ALWAYS.

3.       Rambling commentaries. Always keep the messages as short as possible. Someone else may have EMERGENCY traffic waiting to send.

4.       Shouting into the microphone. The receiving station will not understand what is being said because shouting into the microphone only distorts the signal.

5.       Cute phonetics. Do not use these types of phonetics while on an EMCOMM net. We use ONLY the ITU Phonetics

6.       Identifying every time, you key or unkey the microphone. ID your station at the end of a transmission or every 10 minutes.

7.       Using 10 codes. EMCOMM operators use only plain English.

8.       Talking just to pass the time. In an EMCOMM net you are stopping someone else from passing their EMERGENCY message.



Third party traffic is allowed by the 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

1.       Saves time (may be essential to life saving).

2.       Eliminates errors in translation (which could cost lives).

3.       The licensed operator is present and is in control of the radio.

4.       A record of the individual speaking over the radio should be noted.

a.   Note the NAME of the person.

b.   Note the DATE/TIME of the third-party traffic.

c.   Note the TACTICAL CALL of the other station in the contact.




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 THE PLACE OF BUSSINESS, WITH ANYONE. Criminal Acts ARE NOT proprietary information and MUST be disclosed to the 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 ARES® volunteers establish and maintain a trusted and respected relationship with those we serve.



Always present yourself in a professional manner. First responders have a dress code that is adhered to. EMCOMM operators are the outsiders and so all eyes will be directed to us. No affiliation patches or logos are displayed on clothing. Do not wear any ARES®, RACES, MARS etc. affiliated caps or shirts. Do not wear Public Safety type uniforms without express consent from the emergency manager. Play it safe dress in casual attire.  Don’t make a negative impression. Any negativity is what people will most likely remember.


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