Unification Local Area Disaster Organizing Board Representative /blog.html Union County ARES Blog Page NBEMS – Doing It The HAM Radio Waynion County ARES Blog Pa

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Here I will outline the reasons that I have come to this conclusion after reviewing the available amateur radio messaging systems.</div><div id=”ctrl-19812716″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812718″><b>Mission Parameters:</b></div><div id=”ctrl-19812719″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812721″>Our mission is simple. – To provide an alternate means of moving messages into and out of a disaster area where regular internet access has become compromised, is limited or nonexistent. For this purpose, it is seldom necessary to transport messages or eMail via amateur radio any farther than 100 miles or so, or to move any great volume of data. It is important however that the messages get through with 100% accuracy, and in a timely manner. In most cases, this service will be needed for anywhere from a few hours up to several days. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812722″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812724″><b>Considerations for Amateur Radio Operators:</b></div><div id=”ctrl-19812725″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812727″>For amateur radio operators, the best method is to utilize the radios, software and equipment that we use every day for ham radio, and so are already familiar and comfortable with. The system should be inexpensive and easy to use so that all amateurs may participate, and are not faced with a steep learning curve in order to be ready to act in an emergency. Extensive training and drilling should not be required in order for hams to function well when needed. There also should be some flexibility to handle different needs of unexpected situations that may be encountered. The system should work independently of existing infrastructure, and require no costly and complicated infrastructure of its own.</div><div id=”ctrl-19812728″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812730″><b>NBEMS</b></div><div id=”ctrl-19812731″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812733″>I have reviewed the amateur radio eMail and messaging systems in current use, and have found that NBEMS best covers the mission parameters and the considerations for amateur radio operators outlined above.</div><div id=”ctrl-19812734″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812736″>NBEMS was developed as a collaborative effort between Dave Freese W1HKJ and Skip Teller KH6TY, the developer of the popular DIGIPAN PSK31 software. It consists of a suite of programs that send text, images and eMail files error-free. The two main programs, FLDIGI and FLARQ are designed to run under Linux, Free-BSD, Mac OS, Windows XP, Win2000, Vista and Windows7. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812737″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812739″>The NBEMS system is designed to operate on all amateur bands, but is optimized for short to medium range communications such as SSB VHF, or HF with an NVIS antenna can provide. It can also be utilized on VHF FM, and even operated through a FM voice repeater at need. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812740″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812742″>Digital modes currently recommended for HF NBEMS operations are: OLIVIA 8/500, OLIVIA 16/500, MT63 1k, PSK-125R and PSK-250R. For VHF use on simplex or through a repeater, MT63 2k is recommended and can be used to good effect without a soundcard interface. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812743″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812745″>The free FLDIGI multimode soundcard software offers many digital modes, but the modes listed above are most often associated with NBEMS. Amateurs who use FLDIGI for everyday QSOs in PSK31, Hell, Olivia, MT63 etc. will be familiar with the software when occasion calls for the NBEMS system to be called up.</div><div id=”ctrl-19812746″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812748″>An optional part of NBEMS is the FLARQ software, which provides the interface to your eMail program, and which also provides the ARQ feature for NBEMS which gives you 100% accurate transmissions of the messages and images you transmit. In addition to email, you can send comma delimited spread sheets/data bases, text, and many ICS form-based messages. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812749″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812751″>The FLWRAP add-on program allows you to transmit a bulletin to an unlimited number of stations simultaneously. Each recipient can confirm individually whether they have received the data with 100% accuracy, as FLWRAP generates a checksum for each message. </div><div id=”ctrl-19812752″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812754″>The FLMSG program makes authoring, sending and receiving text, ICS-205, ICS-206, ICS-213, ICS-214, and ICS-216 forms in addition to ARRL Radiograms a simple point and click proposition.</div><div id=”ctrl-19812755″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812757″><b>NBEMS Features:</b></div><div id=”ctrl-19812758″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812760″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812762″><br></div><ul><li>Inexpensive ( free soundcard software )</li><li>Simple to use, reducing training requirements</li><li>Effective, perfectly tailored to the EMS mission </li><li>Narrowband modes conserve spectrum</li><li>A live operator on each end, eliminating interference potential</li><li>Flexible enough for use with most equipment under most conditions</li><li>The software is great for everyday use, again reducing training requirements</li><li>Specialized add-on software for net control, rig control, callbook data, logging etc. are available </li></ul><div id=”ctrl-19812773″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812775″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812777″>To learn more about NBEMS and to download the software:</div><div id=”ctrl-19812778″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812780″>Basic information and software download:</div><div id=”ctrl-19812781″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812783″><a href=”http://www.w1hkj.com/” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”>http://www.w1hkj.com/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-19812785″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812787″>NBEMS info and a downloadable PowerPoint presentation:</div><div id=”ctrl-19812788″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812790″><a href=”http://www.wpanbems.org/” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”>http://www.wpanbems.org/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-19812792″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812794″>ARRL articles about NBEMS:</div><div id=”ctrl-19812795″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812797″><a href=”http://www.wpaares.org/ecom.html” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”>http://www.wpaares.org/ecom.html</a></div><div id=”ctrl-19812799″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812801″><a href=”http://www.arrl.org/nbems” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”>http://www.arrl.org/nbems</a></div><div id=”ctrl-19812803″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812805″>Informative Weblog article about NBEMS:</div><div id=”ctrl-19812806″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812808″><a href=”http://wedothatradio.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/nbems/” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”>http://wedothatradio.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/nbems/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-19812810″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-19812812″><br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table>
/blog/2014/02/24/NBEMS-Doing-It-The-HAM-Radio-Way.aspx Charles Brabham / N5PVL 02/24/2014 21:45:00 /blog/2014/02/24/NBEMS-Doing-It-The-HAM-Radio-Way.aspx
Practical Reasons for Ham Radio Volunteering and Management <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-22684528″>Volunteers are important. But more important are the reasons for volunteering, and the way an organization is managed to make it effective. Take a moment and learn from the pros. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684529″>This checklist was adopted from a meeting I had the pleasure of attending this past winter. It was with a group of hams that are very involved in their community. Their participation spans from causal observation at parades, to real emergency events. Weather spotting is less than 10% of their mission. The rest is local community involvement. They have performed maritime directional finding, communication exercises with militia, training in schools and churches, and have drilled with other clubs to advance their skills in preparation for communications. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684530″>Their motto, <i>&quot;A Good Ham Knows: Preparation, Education, and Service to Community&quot;</i> speaks volumes. The thing most impressive is they do this not for the recognition, but because it&#39;s the right thing to do. In preparing this article about their organization they specifically requested no mention. What they did ask is that their suggestions and information be distributed freely on the hope that it will help other organizations gain the proficiency and achievements they have. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684531″>The key point made at the meeting is that things just don&#39;t happen in a community. It takes people, local people, to be the soldiers of any organization. An organization, especially one in a rural area, is much more effective than asking the state or the federal officials to come in and solve problems. Volunteers know the community, know the people in the community, the communication capabilities, resources, and how to get things done! They are the link. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684532″>Volunteering is an important and essential contribution to society. Without volunteers many of the tasks we face in life would be compromised. Without a volunteer fire department, how would a small community react to a downtown building fire? Without volunteer weather spotters, how would a federal agency such as NOAA get real time data from the field? </div><div id=”ctrl-22684533″>You can&#39;t take volunteering lightly. Before pledging yourself to an organization, analyze all the reasons and your abilities. You should get involved if you can perform a service. You should not volunteer if you don&#39;t have commitment, ability, or preconceived notions how the organizations should be run. Bad volunteers cause problems within an organization, as well as personal and professional credibility issues. Most of all, they let down their community. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684534″>Take for example a weather spotter that decides it&#39;s his responsibility to chase down a tornado and get in front of it to observe the winds and damage it causes. He announces he&#39;s going in and is not heard from again. His fellow volunteers and emergency responders are now placed in the position of focusing on him, and applying assets for possible search and rescue. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684535″>How about groups of people that say they are volunteers, but don&#39;t do anything? How are they helping, and what is the public&#39;s view of other volunteers and the organization they represent? What if a volunteer EMTS organization never answered your call in a medical emergency? </div><div id=”ctrl-22684536″>Let&#39;s look at this from both sides. First we will look at why you volunteer, and then we&#39;ll look at the volunteer manager. Before putting your hand up to volunteer, think about the following. <br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684538″><br></div><ol><li>Why do you want to get involved? Is it because you have the time and talents, or is it for the fraternity and recognition? Can you serve a productive, required need? The difference between a volunteer organization and a club is that the club is a fraternal organization. It is there for the meeting of other hams, and the sharing of interests. A volunteer organization exists to serve a need. Many people try to mix these two together, and it usually doesn&#39;t work. Why should people perform work and service to community when their reason for joining a club was just to have fun and meet other hams.</li><li>We all have busy lives. Even retirees have full schedules. Are you able to volunteer, or are you are already over-committed? How much can you shoulder realistically? You should not feel obliged to take on a volunteer position if you are already busy with other things. Over-extending yourself is the first step on the path to burn-out and failure. If someone pressures you to do more, you do not owe any explanation whatsoever. Simply say, &quot;I already have things to do.&quot; Volunteer only if you have time to do so. </li><li>Are your talents needed? Is there something you want to do? This is an important question because it focuses on your investment in the group&#39;s mission. Are you joining a group of weather spotters because you want to provide information vital to public safety? You shouldn&#39;t volunteer just to get a sticker for your car, a badge, name in the paper, or because your friends belong. Separate personal wants and needs from service to your community. If you are not participating for the right reasons it&#39;s safe to say you&#39;re ineffective to the organization, and probably wise to move on to something else. </li><li>Do you have the ability to perform the volunteer activities for which you are expected to perform? You would not want to become a volunteer firefighter if you have asthma, and you&#39;re afraid of fire. You would not want to be on an EMTS run if you faint at the sight of blood. Ask yourself the simple question, can I do what is asked of me? Tell the volunteer organizer about your skills, and explain to them any concerns you have to fulfilling your duty. Allow them to find a position best suited to your aptitude and interests. Don&#39;t take offense if your services are not required at first. </li><li>Are your efforts competing with other volunteer and hobby positions? Are they politically challenged? To whom do you owe your loyalty? These may seem like odd questions but suppose you live on a county line. You&#39;re a volunteer with ARES in one county, and a RACES member in another county. Both counties call you up. To whom shall you serve? Another situation might be where you are a member of a club, and your buddies have a loyalty to the club and don&#39;t want you to be a volunteer of what they see as a competing organization. If there is competition, how might that affect your effectiveness in the scope of volunteering? If members of a club are going to attack you for belonging to another organization, it might be better not to volunteer. It&#39;s not fair to the volunteer organization if you have to keep looking over your shoulder for conflict, or your buddies are sniping at you on the radio. As a rule of thumb, if there is conflict, choose one or the other. Besides radio clubs and emergency positions, you shouldn&#39;t have to compete with family, church, school, and other personal commitments. If there is conflict with family or personal commitments, the club and organization should be a far distant second. Family first! </li><li>Are you physically able to volunteer? There are certain stages in your life when volunteering may not be a good option. Someone who is retired and out of physical shape should probably not be involved in strenuous activities. However, their services could be used as net control, clerical roles, or simply to assist in coordinating activities. If you want to help with fieldwork, perhaps you could be a spotter for overhead electrical lines, or buried infrastructure. Or maybe just coordinate activities for the organization. </li><li>Do you have the right equipment and resources to perform what is asked of you? Does your radio work properly? Do you know how to set repeater offsets, tone settings, and memories? As ridiculous as these sounds, I have witnessed hams that don&#39;t know how their radios work! If you can&#39;t operate your equipment, or don&#39;t have the proper equipment, perhaps you should resolve this problem before hindering an organization. You should know your equipment intimately. If you can&#39;t remember, carry a manual or instruction card with you at all times. Having spare batteries or a spare radio is a good idea, but it&#39;s an investment. </li><li>Are you joining because of peer pressure? Sometime our friends are our own worse enemy. They may want more &quot;numbers&quot; in their organization. Or they may want someone to take over a position, and for whatever reason they feel you want the job. People are bullied and even coerced into volunteering. This is not a good reason to be a volunteer. It is not unusual to be elected at a meeting that you do not attend. Or be pushed into position in front of a meeting, belittled with questions why you won&#39;t accept on the spot. If you are present at such a vote, vocalize strongly your refusal. State clearly that you do not want the position, period, and ask those who are pressuring you to stop. If it should happen in your absence, send a carefully worded letter refusing the position, setting out brief reasons why, or simply say &quot;I do not accept&quot;. I would also recommend sending this by USPS letter, receipt requested. With e-mail there is often the temptation by the recipient to forward it on with comments, or it can escalate into a long e-mail debate. </li><li>Are you joining because of sympathy? Believe it or not, many people take on positions with volunteer organizations because they fear the organization&#39;s failure. &quot;Ok, I&#39;ll do it because nobody else will&quot;, is a comment a lot of people have made, only to regret later. You shouldn&#39;t have to become a volunteer because you fear an organization&#39;s demise. This sounds harsh, but if an organization fails because nobody wants to be a part of it, then maybe it&#39;s not needed, or there is a lack of community support. Sometimes failure is an option when there is lack of need. And if needed it will rise from the ashes like the Phoenix. If you have to step in due to a vacancy, it is acceptable as long as you state a reasonable time period for your replacement. 90 to 120 days is typical. But never accept a long-term status out of fear that if you leave, you&#39;re responsible for putting the organization in the grave. </li><li>Can you find a way to be a volunteer without killing your time, energy, or finances? Being a volunteer is a commitment. It can easily become a second or third job. Your position has a responsibility, but will it take you away from family, friends, and other duties? You should not volunteer if after your shift you feel physically stressed, or exhausted. Nothing will make an employer unhappy that to have you less than productive because of your extra curricular volunteer work. And your long-term employment could be affected if you choose to go spot weather events all night, and then call in sick to work the next day. Most volunteer organizations don&#39;t pay expenses. If you are called upon to drive distances, (as in weather spotting), do you possess the finances for gas? Will this activity affect the condition of your car to the point where you can&#39;t get to work? Can you afford to do the things an organization asks of you? Sometimes your volunteering is an investment. One trap volunteers get into is pledging their personal assets, or money to purchase assets for the organization. You should not entertain the thought of providing for group resources until you have carefully considering the consequences, and weighed all the options. Radios, antennas, cable, vehicles, generators, and places to hold meetings should not be donated unless you have a clear understanding that once you &quot;give&quot; them to the organization, there are no strings attached, conditions, or reasons to take them back. </li><li>What is your level of commitment? Are you dedicated or are you just mildly interested? If you are prone to making excuses for not participating in events, nets, training, or meetings, this is probably a sign you have not invested fully in the organization. It is not fair to the rest of the organization if they can be 100% and all you can muster up is 40%. Do you use language to suggest that being a volunteer is less important, with no commitment? If you use the phase &quot;I&#39;m just a volunteer&quot; as a way to explain away not performing your duty, you just established what you and your organization is worth. Nothing. If you can not commit, it&#39;s best to quit. And never make excuses. </li><li>Are you risking your safety? You would be surprised at how many people have now made the transition between storm spotter and storm chaser. In some cases I have seen normally sane people get caught up in the excitement and drive into storms or dangerous positions. In the case of RACES, you encounter many situations where you might not be prepared or knowledgeable. Have you been properly training in hazards and health risks? You should request training from your organization on the dangers you will encounter. If you feel unsafe, consult the person in charge and let them know. Trust your instincts. If you are denied any safety training, you are within your rights to leave an organization.</li></ol><div id=”ctrl-22684553″>These are but just a few examples of questions you need to ask yourself when thinking of joining a volunteer organization. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684554″>Be fair and honest with your assessment of your priorities. It&#39;s far better not to volunteer, than to say you will then not live up to your end of the bargain.</div><div id=”ctrl-22684555″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684557″><b>The Management Side</b></div><div id=”ctrl-22684558″>Now let&#39;s look at the management of a volunteer organization. If your organization is self-sustaining then you need to run it like a business and not as a casual club. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684559″>An example of a non-self sustaining organization is one like RACES, which is controlled at the top by an Emergency Manager. If your organization has a non-ham Emergency Manager in charge of your club your first task is to get them in the loop on what ham radio can and can&#39;t do. They should feel comfortable in their relationship with your organization, and know that they CAN count on your volunteers when the need arises. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684560″>Do not make promises you can&#39;t keep. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684561″>Being a leader of a group is work. It&#39;s not to be taken lightly. I&#39;ve seen dozens of groups fail painfully because the leader decided to put off meetings, skip nets, or otherwise not take their duties seriously. Apathy is a killer, and has murdered more organizations than I care to count. I&#39;ve also seen leaders get involved in things that regular volunteers should be doing. For example; the leader should not always be the guy that takes the net, sets schedules, chairs projects, does the meeting agenda, and invites in people to put on presentations. You should delegate! Distribute! Divest yourself of the minutia. You should have the support of all your volunteers. Everyone doing just a little bit is better than one guy doing a lot. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684562″>Don&#39;t get involved with small insignificant stuff, when the larger picture is ignored. I once knew a guy who focused on writing MOUs (Memos of Understanding), by-laws, maps and guides. He would get into long debates about league protocols, and how other organizations did things. He ignored the nets, membership, and training. Consequently the organization fell apart. Keep your eye on the prize! Bylaws and MOUs mean squat when an F4 tornado is coming at your community and you don&#39;t have people, the net, nor the training to be effective. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684563″>One of the biggest things you hear from successful people in business is that it&#39;s not the amount of hours they work, and how hard they work, but whom you have selected as your management team. A good leader is one who has the right people. If the leader is sick or can&#39;t participate in an event, things go on as scheduled. A bad manager is one where everything comes to a halt if they are not involved in every single phase and function. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684564″>You should never take on a leadership position unless you are fully prepared to do the necessary work. You should set up a good team consisting of secretary, treasurer, one or more vice presidents, trustee, and appropriate chairmen for your committees. You should not do it all! For managers or officers of a volunteer organization, here are some suggestions for making, and keeping your organization&#39;s integrity intact.</div><div id=”ctrl-22684565″><br></div><ol><li>Ask yourself; Why do I want to be the leader? Am I able to lead, or am I already over-committed? How much work can I shoulder? Will my position compete with other volunteer organizations, hobbies, and personal needs? Am I the leader because of peer pressure? Am I the leader because of sympathy? What is my level of commitment? Does this sound familiar? If it does sound familiar, a lot of reasons for being a volunteer go hand in hand with being a leader of an organization. You should be a leader for the right reasons. Before accepting the position, ask, &quot;am I invested 100% in this organization?&quot; </li><li>Check your volunteer applications carefully. If you have the ability to run criminal record checks it would be advisable especially if the applicant will work with the public. Ask the applicant to produce a copy of their amateur radio license, and check the class of license and expiration dates. Do they have a valid drivers license, or points on their license? </li><li>Check your applicant&#39;s ability to operate the equipment your organization uses. Do they know area repeater frequencies, and FCC rules? Do they know how to change frequencies, set PL tones, and have a basic understanding of how a transceiver works? Do they know common procedures, and the difference between repeaters and simplex? Do they know basic propagation situations, power, antenna height, and how it relates communications? </li><li>An area often ignored is when volunteers are required to use their own equipment, but they don&#39;t know how to operate it. New hams sometime get &quot;deals&quot;, or inherit a radio from someone else. At a venue I recently attended we were forced to change repeaters because two volunteers could not change their frequency or program in PL tones. If a volunteer does not understand their radio&#39;s operations or has something incompatible, ask them politely to study the radio and resolve the issue. Optionally, you may want to loan them a radio, or council them on how to operate a radio. Changing your entire operation because a volunteer is not trained to operate a radio, or has improper equipment, sends the wrong message to everyone. Surprising as it seems, there are new hams and volunteers showing up that know nothing about basic amateur radio operation. You need to be the &quot;filter&quot; for quality control. </li><li>Always hold regular scheduled professional meetings, and take attendance. Members who don&#39;t show up should be queried why they chose not to attend. When you talk to them, do it in private and not in a public forum. Even a &quot;we missed you last week&quot; mentioned on a net can be misconstrued as calling someone out publicly. Not participating is no excuse. </li><li>Make sure you hold regular scheduled nets. Like your meetings, you should take attendance and question members that never or seldom participate. </li><li>Keep a record of volunteers that participate in all organization functions. Audit their status at each quarter. At the end of the year their record of participation should weigh into their continued involvement with the organization. </li><li>Volunteers who participate should be praised and complimented. Those who don&#39;t participate should be asked why. (More on this later). At one organization I know, they have a point system for the training taken, hours volunteering, and events they participate in. At the end of the year awards are given in the form of a framed diploma to the top people. </li><li>Keep track of all volunteer achievements. If they take classes that benefit the organization, these should be made a matter of their record. Ask the achiever to speak about their classes and the good they see in the learning experience. Hopefully it will motivate others. </li><li>All meetings, projects, drills, nets, and training sessions should be scheduled well in advance. A good idea is to have a full year of activities prepared by the first of the year. This allows your volunteers to properly plan around events, including family vacations, local and distant hamfests, and other personal time away. </li><li>Provide training for people, and stress the importance that all volunteers participate. Emergency managers can usually provide training at little or no cost. It is important to have your volunteers as educated as possible. NIMS, CPR, Hazmat, are all good to know. </li><li>Perform drills on a regular basis. If your emergency manager is unable to get you involved in a state or regional drills, make up one that will allow your volunteers to get a feel for the heat of the action. Think of various scenarios in your community you might have to respond to. Formulate a drill, and allow all volunteers to experience the action. Then go back and analyze what you did right and wrong. All your volunteers should know how to act based on the training and drills they attend. They should not have to ask what to do when an emergency arises. They should say, &quot;where am I needed&quot;, and know what to do. </li><li>When holding a meeting, have a written agenda and follow it. If possible schedule a presentation or program that pertains to the organization&#39;s mission. Many organizations have their guest speak first, then do their regular meeting. That way the guest may leave if they don&#39;t have the time to sit through a meeting, (although, extend the courtesy for them to stay and learn about your organization). </li><li>Never, ever, allow meetings to develop into a kvetching sessions, or old war stories. If someone brings up something not pertinent to the organization, ask him or her to hold their comments till after the meeting. Close the meeting before allowing them to start. If they cause a scene, it&#39;s advisable that you and members of your administration meet with the volunteer privately right after the meeting and discuss their behavior. Disruptive behavior should not be tolerated. </li><li>Items that need to be voted on by the volunteers should be announced to volunteers thirty days prior to vote, allowing them time to think, and research the subject. Dropping it on them at a meeting is unacceptable if you expect a vote and approval the same day. </li><li>Keep accurate minutes of your meetings, and remind those who are members of committees a few days ahead of a meeting that you will call on them for a report at the meeting. Don&#39;t ambush them at a meeting and expect them to come up with figures and details. </li><li>The leaders of the organization should not be the only ones doing the work. In making your list for the year, assign what you feel is a reasonable number of people to perform tasks. Make it known that everyone needs to take a turn, and that nobody should have to do something twice until everyone has rotated through the list. Distribute responsibilities. </li><li>When you hold nets, everyone should have a turn at performing as net control. It&#39;s a good idea to announce on the air the person who will be next week&#39;s net control, based on a list you have created ahead of time. That way you have record of whose turn it is, and you have plenty of people to know whose turn it is. </li><li>If net control forgets to start the net, someone else should jump in and start the net. They can always abdicate to the scheduled net control if that person shows up late. Don&#39;t let a net fail because nobody wanted to jump in. This sends the message; &quot;failure is OK&quot;. </li><li>Keep your net orderly. A net should have a preamble, followed by a check in of volunteers. Keep a record of those who check in. If a non-volunteer checks in, ask them to wait till the end of the net and you will be happy to answer all question. Half of the time their questions are answered simply by listening to the net. You should train and advise your volunteers on proper net protocol as well as permissible transmission. Never allow arguments, disagreements, or any non-organization content to take place. It&#39;s also a good idea to make it known that promotion of other organizations, clubs, or any advertising is prohibited. This is YOUR net, not theirs. If they insist that they want to pass information, ask them to wait till after you have closed the net. </li><li>If you have someone with a disagreement, ask him or her privately what it is. Acknowledge that you understand the problem, and you will get back to them shortly. Immediately meet with your team and articulate to them the concern of the volunteer. Then, and within a week, you and your team should meet with the person and discuss a resolution. Hopefully the problem can be corrected, but in some cases you may have to tell the volunteer there is nothing you can do. If the volunteer threatens to quit, express regret, but tell them that this is the position of your team and if they want to quit all they have to do is draft a letter of resignation. Someone threatening should never hold you hostage or change your mind. </li><li>If something needs attention, address it. Find a way to fix the problem. Never allow it to become public discussion or a source for volunteer&#39;s complaining. Don&#39;t make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or suggest solutions without getting your facts correct. If it&#39;s a problem that requires finance, find a way to finance it without volunteers being asked to pass the hat. Look for outside donations, grants, or public funding. Don&#39;t ever suggest that a particular volunteer shoulder the expenses. Finally, don&#39;t rehash the problem on nets or at meetings. All you do is set up a scenario for more complaints and moaning. </li><li>When planning drills, and projects, plan ahead. Prioritize. You should have a committee meeting prior to the event, and finalize details well in advance. Then, articulate the plans to your membership. There should never be a situation where on the day of the event volunteers are in the dark. Make sure you have the people and assets in place before saying, &quot;we&#39;re all ready to go.&quot; After drills and projects, always analyze your successes and your failures. Remember, a failure is a learning experience. But if you fail at the same thing twice, shame on you. </li><li>Volunteer&#39;s time should never be wasted. It&#39;s a poor idea to have the whole organization out for an event that only requires three people. Likewise, calling everyone to a meeting and then announcing you don&#39;t have anything, or there is no program for the meeting is not only an embarrassment, but it wastes volunteer&#39;s time. As you look out at the faces for the meeting remember that their time is no less valuable than yours. Be prepared, and be respectful of their drive to and from meetings, and the time invested at the meeting. </li><li>Be honest, and ethical. Own up to mistakes and lapses in judgement. Never lie if questioned about organizational activities, or embellish situations. I knew a ham that made a lot of accusations about another repeater interfering with his repeater. Openly, on the air, he accused the other repeater of QRMing them. After checking the situation, the problem was with his repeater. The other repeater owner was falsely excused. Sadly, no apology was made. A leader speaks for the club, and if the words they choose, and the things they say speak for the whole organization. </li><li>Do you waffle? Do you excuse poor performance or bypass conflict? A good manager gets things done. You should not get in the habit of producing excuses, or dragging your heels in completing projects. For example, if your organization said they would install an antenna for an emergency office, you and your organizations credibility is on the line if someone has to keep asking you, &quot;did you get it done?&quot; Don&#39;t say you&#39;ll do something unless you will do it. If you openly excuse poor performance, you send a very clear message to your other volunteers that failure is acceptable. If you don&#39;t resolve problems, then you tell your volunteers you have no control. If you want the position of manager, you need to manage your organization, your position, and your volunteers. If you can&#39;t do this, perhaps management should not be a direction you take within the organization. </li><li>Use Public Relations cautiously! The best way to sabotage your organization is to make up stories, embellish events, or make it sound like your organization has done more than it did. You can write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper to tell of the good deeds being done by your organization, but be accurate in all details. The letter should be short, to the point, and tell how your organization benefited the community. When helping law enforcement, fire, and EMTS, ask them to assist in your press release. Sharing the experience is not bad. If you invite the press to an event, make sure they know the right details. Don&#39;t try dazzle them with your high tech geeky equipment because only hams care about that. The public want to know who you are, what you did, and how did it benefit their community. That&#39;s all. If your work and service is good, then it will speak for its self. Remember, image is everything. Your people and your equipment site should be neat, professional, and safe. A funny story, (or not so funny if you are a member of this club). A ham radio club had the idea to be in their communities Labor Day Parade. On the day of the parade they loaded up a hay wagon with a few of their members pulled by a beat-to-heck pickup. As it came down the parade route, there sat three very obese guys with HT radios on their hips. They wore ripped bluejeans and t-shirts that didn&#39;t cover their stomachs. They looked forward with no emotion, and the sign on the side of the hay wagon said &quot;_____ Ham Club&quot;. A little girl in the crowd summed it up. &quot;Ham? Daddy, do they call them guys hams because they look like our pigs at our farm?&quot; <u>Nobody</u> noticed the radios, <u>nobody</u> connected that these guys talked on Amateur Radio … but the image they placed in people&#39;s minds lasted <u>forever</u>. Perception is everything! Think before you go public. And remember the public does have the ability to listen to your transmissions on scanners.</li></ol><div id=”ctrl-22684599″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684601″><b>What to do about Non-Volunteers</b></div><div id=”ctrl-22684602″>At some point in your tenure, you will have a problem with a volunteer. The biggest problem most organizations have is non-participation. Often it&#39;s just someone who never participates, but wants to be a volunteer or part of organization. In other cases, they may have been asked to do something then never produced results. There are also times when volunteers become disruptive or exhibit inappropriate behaviors. When this happens you should be quick to ask questions, seek resolutions, and protect the integrity of your organization.</div><div id=”ctrl-22684603″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684605″><b>Step 1:</b> First of all, talk with the volunteer in private. This should be a one-on-one conversation, but you open by saying that you and the organization have concerns. You should document honestly and fairly the effects of their actions and statements. Remind them of their commitment, and the people it serves. Talk to them about the need for the program to function at the highest level of effectiveness. State that their cooperation is needed to make things work. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684606″>After you have made your initial remarks, give them ample time to respond. Ask them to tell why they chose the actions they did. Inquire about any circumstances that may not have been apparent to anyone but them, such as a family problem or other employment matters. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684607″>Avoid accusatory statements, and attacking their actions. Your discussion should be only about what the problem or concern is, and what is needed to resolve it. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684608″>Often the person who you are talking to will attempt to deflect their responsibility by going off the trail to something that is not significant. Or they will bring up someone else to blame for the action. Keep the focus on their actions and consequences. Take notes in front of them, and articulate your steps for corrective action. Be fair in your actions. Then set a meeting within a month to track their progress. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684609″>You should always state a positive resolution of the problem, and establish a benchmark to measure change. And state that not changing their actions will result in dismissal. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684610″>End stating your confidence in their ability to become an even more valuable contributor to the program&#39;s goals if they so choose and want to. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684611″>A meeting like this is especially effective in dealing with such minor, but annoying, performance problems as the volunteer who is constantly coming in late, not participating, or becoming a minor nuisance to the rest of the organization at meetings or on nets. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684612″>Be aware that in this first meeting, it might become apparent that the volunteer simply wants &quot;out&quot;. You should have prepared a graceful way to allow them to move on to some other assignment or take some time off from the organization. I often have a form, generic, which states &quot;I have decided to leave the organization, and pursue other interests.&quot; The volunteer only needs to sign and date this to leave. If belligerence is their response, suggest they move on to some other community effort immediately. Above all, keep control of the situation, take the high road, and don&#39;t say anything that you may regret later.</div><div id=”ctrl-22684613″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684615″><b>Step 2:</b> If there is a second meeting with a volunteer who says they are willing to work on correcting their actions, review the goals agreed to in the first meeting, and indicate to them their progress. If no progress has been made, ask why and what would help them move toward the adjustments needed. Ask them to clarify what is preventing them from success. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684616″>At this point you must document, and have them agree to specific changes in behavior by putting the new changes in writing. Document specific what the problems are, and results you need. End by stating the consequences of dismissal if they do not live up to their end of the bargain. Keep your meeting and all matters strictly private. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684617″>Agree to meet for a final time in 10 to 14 days. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684618″>Sometimes people feel it necessary to discuss or complain about their meeting to other volunteers or friends. If another volunteer asks you about details of the meeting, simply state that the matter is between you and the person in question, and you have nothing more to say. If they press you for details, state firmly again, &quot;I have nothing to say&quot;. Do not get drawn in to revealing details that may put you into a bad position at your next meeting, or give the volunteer the opportunity to say that you are speaking about them behind their back. Regardless of how intense the person might be, silence is golden, and recommended by most lawyers. <br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684620″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-22684622″><b>Step 3:</b> At the third meeting you might want to have another member of your governing board there. They should start out by articulating clearly why the volunteer&#39;s actions are not supportive of the organization in a non-confrontational manor. For example, if the person fails to show up for nets, or arrange to have someone come in for a program, they would express how this is unfair to the other volunteers to be left in the lurch. If they are disruptive on nets, explain to them how this is not proper conduct, and how they are being perceived, and the organization is being painted in the public by their actions. Then, this second person should say no more, and refrain from making any further comments as you address the issues. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684623″>Make sure you give praise to any success toward the agreed-on goals. If some of the goal has not been met, ask the reason why. If the goals are vital, state this as unacceptable and tell them they will be monitored for a week to insure they live up to the organization&#39;s requirements. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684624″>If none of the goals have been reached, remind them of the previously stated consequence of removal from their position. Thank them for their previous service, write up your actions and allow them to leave. Collect any badges or keys to organization&#39;s property and vehicles. Make arrangements to get any organization&#39;s property back from them within a week. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684625″>If there is a concern about retribution, have them sign a copy of the letter they received after the second meeting in which problems and corrective actions were discussed. If they refuse to sign it to acknowledge their understanding of the issues raised you might want to call them, you have a witness to attest to this refusal. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684626″>Keep your cool, and never threaten, belittle, or swear at the person. Don&#39;t give them ammunition to take back to other volunteers or the public that paints you in a bad light. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684627″>Keep accurate documentation of all events, dates, times, and who was present. You may need this at a later date should the person decide to either take on your organization through legal means, or in the public forum. Should they harass other volunteers, tell lies, or jam your net, you will need this documentation should the police or FCC get involved. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684628″>Confronting problem behavior in volunteers can be uncomfortable, unpleasant, and often a difficult task for someone who has not acted in a managerial position. If you have never been in a position to talk with people about performance, it might be wise to take some courses on-line in human resources. </div><div id=”ctrl-22684629″><br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/05/20/Practical-Reasons-for-Ham-Radio-Volunteering-and-Management.aspx Frederick R. Vobbe / W8HDU 05/20/2013 13:22:00 /blog/2013/05/20/Practical-Reasons-for-Ham-Radio-Volunteering-and-Management.aspx My First Date with Olivia <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-7059911″> Last night (8/10/09) began with a very long 75/80M band. There was none of the usual local rag chew chatter because the lack of NVIS propagation mode, so, I thought I&#39;d see what was happening on the rest of the RF Spectrum. I&#39;d heard some NAVTEX on the 600M band and seeing as how I had the laptop on hand I&#39;d interface it to the rig and see what was what. It was some bulletins about missile tests and other things out near the Hawaiian Islands. After a few minutes they signed clear. Ok, that was kind of interesting, though not the 600M experimental amateur stations I was hoping for. Time to cruise up-band and check out the digi-modes on the lower HF bands. There wasn&#39;t much going on there, either. Some faint PSK31, RTTY and what&#39;s this? A lonely, faint, 16/500 Olivia mode signal at 3582.85Khz operating in beacon mode. I&#39;ve only started experimenting with the Olivia mode using a home brew interface made from scrapped out CB radios, usually partial contacts and other incomplete QSOs. Was my equipment giving me problems? So, I once again made sure the antenna was tuned, levels were set and my wits appropriately gathered and sent a reply… <br></div><div id=”ctrl-7059913″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-7059915″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059916″> Olivia is a digital mode that uses multiple phase shift tones to convey information. You have a rich choice of formats, or sub-modes to choose from to match the speed you wish to send the information and quality of the propagation. Under the worst conditions, for example, 16/500 or even slower will be needed. On the formats with the lowest throughput you will print (copy) even when you don&#39;t hear a signal or even see it on the waterfall display. It can actually rival CW in the extreme. But, and there usually is a “but”, with CW even the most crude bits and pieces of electronics components, or even just electrical parts for a spark transmitter, can be cobbled together to get a signal on the air. So in the most extreme combinations of technological environment and propagation, CW still reigns supreme.</div><div id=”ctrl-7059917″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-7059919″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059920″> What got my attention about Olivia was an article in QST. What intrigued me was that the author described a new digital mode that he was using. On one day, if I recall correctly, he was monitoring an Olivia call frequency and just by chance glanced at the display and saw print just seeming to come out of nowhere. No signal could be heard or even be seen on the waterfall, but there it was. He coined the term “Ghosting”, for this situation. At this point I decided I&#39;d have to investigate this. </div><div id=”ctrl-7059921″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059922″> So, what happened after I sent the reply? Well, I was rewarded with a long and pleasant QSO with VE7NBQ at a -13db signal to noise ratio. This was to be my first completed Olivia QSO. The two or three previous ones were barely an exchange of call signs. Hardly a “Date” with Olivia, more like “passing glances”. The conditions for most modes were marginal at best, phone impossible and CW difficult at the high noise levels we were experiencing. In fact, we were QRO for Olivia mode, &#39;NBQ was at 75 watts and I was 90. With only an occasional fade deep enough to garble only a character or two, it was 100% copy. We QSOed for about an hour and then a very strong station from Idaho -5db, W6MM signed on and we had a nice little round table for another half hour before we all signed clear.</div><div id=”ctrl-7059923″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-7059925″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059926″> To put it bluntly, Olivia&#39;s “one tough broad” that works in extreme conditions. It is slow however, in fact, even with my marginal typing skills I can outrun the throughput on the lower speeds. It also supports lower case and even backspaces so I can correct my mistakes even after the characters have been sent. The slow throughput of Olivia should not be an issue in times of disasters, because messages are usually very short, anyway. And if propagation improves you can always run it up to full speed. Finally, because of the low throughput, it kind of forces you to be laid back. You can just let the characters print and you can actually go refill your coffee cup and grab a snack by the time a short paragraph prints. Now that&#39;s my kind of multitasking. Sometimes you may have to wait on the other station to reply, especially if you sent a short reply, they may be off refilling the coffee. Just do the same.</div><div id=”ctrl-7059927″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-7059929″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059930″> All in all I&#39;d say I had a wonderful date with Olivia, and my wife doesn&#39;t mind either. This is a robust digital mode that will best other modes in the worst conditions. I&#39;m actually surprised more people aren&#39;t utilizing it, but that&#39;s what this article attempts to correct. There are plenty of resources on the Internet to get started. As far as interfaces, if you&#39;re already active on PSK31 the only difference is switching the mode of the software you&#39;re using, or, download software that does support it. I&#39;m still quite new at it, that&#39;s why this is not a How-To article, just my first impressions. </div><div id=”ctrl-7059931″></div><div id=”ctrl-7059932″> Until next time, good signals and good print. </div><div id=”ctrl-7059933″> de NO6L </div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/05/12/My-First-Date-with-Olivia.aspx NO6L 05/12/2013 20:24:00 /blog/2013/05/12/My-First-Date-with-Olivia.aspx USA 5 Mhz. Emcomm, Not Ragchew DX Contest <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-21208172″> The 60-meter ham band has quite different operating privileges in various countries of the world. The frequencies, rules, purpose, regulations, operating procedures, and levels of priority are all different in each country.</div><div id=”ctrl-21208173″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-21208175″> In USA, the 5 MHz channels for ham radio were specifically requested, justified, and approved primarily for Emergency and Disaster Communications. The stated justification is the need for NVIS and regional disaster response communications to fill in the propagation gap between 40 meters and 80 meters. The process of the Amateur Radio Service gaining access to these 5 MHz frequencies was long and exacting. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208176″> Recently, due to another multi-year process of proposal and rulemaking, FCC increased the privileges slightly for hams on 5 MHz. However, the FCC put even tighter technical restrictions on 5 MHz operation than on any other ham bands. 60-meters is not a normal ham band.</div><div id=”ctrl-21208177″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-21208179″> In this new ruling, FCC re-affirmed and clearly spelled out major restrictions for hams on 5 MHz. Hams are secondary users (or less) and the Primary users of the 5 MHz channels must not be interfered with in any way.</div><div id=”ctrl-21208180″> Non-interference with a Primary user isn&#39;t just a matter of stopping transmitting if you are asked to. It can also mean refraining from transmitting, if there is *any chance* that you might be preventing a Primary user from utilizing or starting communications on the channel, even if you are not asked specifically. The only way we can hope to fulfill our requirement for non-interference, is to use very short transmissions and listen/watch carefully between transmissions.</div><div id=”ctrl-21208181″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-21208183″> What are some common amateur radio operating practices that may not be suitable for 5 MHz 60 meter band operation in USA? </div><div id=”ctrl-21208184″> 1. Calling CQ DX.</div><div id=”ctrl-21208185″> 2. Long CQs. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208186″> 3. Longwinded ragchews. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208187″> 4. Calling in pile-ups. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208188″> 5. High power transmissions. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208189″> 6. Contesting. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208190″> 7. Sending a long &#39;brag file&#39; on PSK31. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208191″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-21208193″> In order to be ready for Emergency/Disaster Communications, hams need to have good familiarity with the band and have equipment capable of operating 5 MHz. Hams can only do this by participating in active operating on the 5 MHz band. Somehow, we need to achieve a balance between a good level of activity and the requirement for non-interference. Finding this balance may be difficult, but for the most part, hams are quite adept at good operating habits. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208194″> Every ham operator transmitting on 5MHz must pay special attention to the different operating methods and procedures that this unique authorization requires. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208195″> There are proposals in the works to create an international ITU allocation of a 60-meter Amateur Radio Service band with Secondary status. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208196″> If hams in USA are found to be operating in ways that disregard the spirit of the requested, justified, and approved reasons for which we obtained 5 MHz privileges, then it may be extremely difficult to ever get FCC support for increased spectrum. </div><div id=”ctrl-21208197″> More information:</div><div id=”ctrl-21208198″><a href=”http://hflink.com/60meters” class=”userlink”>60 meter band</a></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/05/09/USA-5-Mhz-Emcomm-Not-Ragchew-DX-Contest.aspx Bonnie Crystal / KQ6XA 05/09/2013 01:33:00 /blog/2013/05/09/USA-5-Mhz-Emcomm-Not-Ragchew-DX-Contest.aspx Personal Disaster Preparedness <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-11386664″>This discussion has been presented at club meetings, civic groups and even over the Tarheel Emergency Net. As I mentioned then, the purpose of this discussion is to encourage you to think about how you should prepare for a disaster. There is no &quot;one-size-fits-all&quot; formula for disaster preparedness. Consider some of the points mentioned below and decide what preparations are best for <i>you</i>.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386665″><br></div> What is Disaster Preparedness? <div id=”ctrl-11386667″ align=”left”>Disaster Preparedness means taking steps necessary to make sure you and your family are safe and as comfortable as possible in the aftermath of a disaster.</div> Main Types of Disasters <div id=”ctrl-11386668″ align=”left”>It&#39;s not possible to prepare for every conceivable disaster, so think carefully about what hazards are most likely to affect you. These will vary greatly depending on exactly where you live. </div><ol><li>Natural – in North Carolina, hurricanes and winter weather are the most disruptive, but can usually be predicted a few days in advance. Flooding due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are not very predictable. </li><li>Technological (man-made accidental) – radiological, chemical releases; fires. Not predictable, but many hazards are identifiable in advance. </li><li>Terrorist (man-made – deliberate) radiological, chemical, explosions, etc. Not predictable.</li></ol><div id=”ctrl-11386673″><br></div> Your Personal Preparations – Stay Put or Evacuate? <div id=”ctrl-11386675″ align=”left”>You need to consider both possibilities – sometimes the decision will be made by circumstances beyond your control. Staying put requires more preparation, but you retain your privacy. Evacuation places most of the burden of preparation on someone else. Evacuating to someone&#39;s home is nice, but not always possible. If you evacuate to a disaster shelter, you will be dry, well-fed and have no privacy.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386676″ align=”left”>For disasters not requiring immediate evacuation, prepare for a 72-hour &quot;stay put&quot; scenario. 72 hours is long enough for the worst part of the disaster to pass, or for you to make a smart decision about what to do next if it hasn&#39;t.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386677″ align=”left”>For disasters requiring immediate evacuation, have necessities (such as medicine) where you can get to them quickly. A <i>ready kit</i> is a good thing to have so you can be as self-sufficient as possible until you get established somewhere else.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386678″ align=”left”><i>Don&#39;t wait too long</i> to make the decision to evacuate. Many flood deaths in this state have resulted from people waiting too long, then their evacuation route disappears.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386679″ align=”left”>Consider carefully the psychological impact of a disaster on your family. Some people can just handle survival situations better than others. Even if your home is intact, evacuation may end up being the best thing to do.</div> Family Communications Plan <div id=”ctrl-11386680″ align=”left”>You and your family should plan how you will contact each other if you are not together when disaster strikes. Don&#39;t rely exclusively on cellular telephones since they usually work intermittently following a disaster.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386681″ align=”left”>Your plan should include designating an emergency contact person who lives out of town. Sometimes a long-distance call is actually easier to make than a local call during a disaster. Someone out of town may be more easily able to communicate among separated family members.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386682″ align=”left”>Make sure each member of your family has the number of this emergency contact <i>in writing.</i></div><div id=”ctrl-11386683″ align=”left”><i><br></i></div> Staying Put <div id=”ctrl-11386685″ align=”left”>Ask yourself if you can survive 72 hours in your home without utilities (electricity, gas, water, phone)? You will most likely lose electricity and telephone service during a disaster. Natural gas and city water usually continue to be available (but not well water).</div><ul><li>Be prepared for both summer and winter weather since the survival conditions are very different. </li><li><i>Always</i> store several gallons of drinking water. You need drinking water more than anything else except air! You can use dirty water to flush your toilets, but drinking water <i>must</i> be clean. </li><li>It is easy to test your preparedness for staying put (although your family may not think so). Turn the main circuit breaker off for a weekend and see how you do. If you can go the whole weekend without turning it back on, you are well prepared. </li><li>Some people use generators to provide electricity. If you do, make sure you know how to connect your generator so it is not connected to the electrical grid! </li><li>Natural gas or propane is usually available even after a disaster. Find out if you can use your gas appliances without any electricity. Gas stoves, water heaters and logs can probably be used without power, but ovens and furnaces usuallly can not. </li><li>Neither landline nor cellular phones will work dependably after disasters. For landlines, have at least one phone available that does not require separate electricity to use. For cellular, have a power cord that allows you to use or charge the phone from your car battery. </li><li>Have sufficient batteries on hand to power essential equipment, including flashlights and AM/FM/WX radios. The radios will be your source of news about the disaster, as well as entertainment. </li><li>Have sufficient light sources (flashlights, candles, cyalume sticks). Be careful with any source of ignition, such as candles.</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-11386695″><br></div> Evacuation <div id=”ctrl-11386697″ align=”left”>If you must leave your home, make sure you have thought about what you need to take with you. For example, medicine will probably be hard to obtain after a disaster.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386698″ align=”left”>It&#39;s best if you can take all essentials with you so you can be as self-sufficient as possible until you get established somewhere else. Depending on the type of disaster, evacuation might be a slow process, and stopping along the way for supplies won&#39;t be possible. A 72-hour ready kit is the best way to make sure you have what you need, and is useful even if you stay put. You can make your own or purchase them already made (from suppliers such as <a href=”http://www.nitro-pak.com” class=”userlink”>www.nitro-pak.com</a>). Ready-made kits are generic and will probably have a couple of items you don&#39;t need and will be missing an item or two you do need.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386700″ align=”left”>Some other things you must consider about evacuating:</div><ul><li>Have plenty of fuel in all of your vehicles — your preferred vehicle might end up being unavailable. </li><li>Have cash on hand. Credit cards and ATMs will not be useful while power is out. </li><li>Have a map of the area. Familiar routes can be blocked by floods and storm damage, so you may end up taking unfamiliar roads. </li><li>Find out — in advance — where disaster shelters in your community are established, and mark them on the map. </li><li>Having a plan for getting your family back together in case you are not able to evacuate together. </li><li>Establish a family communications plan. Designate someone outside the disaster area you will contact.</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-11386708″><br></div> Items for a Basic 72-Hour Kit This list is suggested by <a href=”http://www.ready.gov” class=”userlink”>www.ready.gov</a> and includes basic items you should have on hand for a disaster. Keep these items in a container that you can take with you if you need to evacuate, or locate them easily if you are staying put. This is not a &quot;one size fits all&quot; list, you should modify it to suit your circumstances. For example, you might want to add insect repellent and toothbrushes for personal comfort. <ul><li><i>Water</i>, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation </li><li><i>Food</i>, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food </li><li><i>Battery-powered radio</i> and <i>extra batteries</i></li><li><i>Flashlight</i> and <i>extra batteries</i></li><li><i>First Aid kit</i></li><li><i>Whistle</i> to signal for help </li><li><i>Dust mask</i> or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air </li><li><i>Moist towelettes</i> for sanitation </li><li><i>Wrench</i> or <i>pliers</i> to turn off utilities </li><li><i>Can opener</i> for food (if kit contains canned food) </li><li><i>Plastic sheeting</i> and <i>duct tape</i> to shelter-in-place </li><li><i>Unique family needs</i>, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers, and important family documents </li><li><i>Garbage bags</i> and <i>plastic ties</i> for personal sanitation</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-11386725″><br></div> Conclusion If you aren&#39;t motivated to spend any time on disaster preparedness, at the bare minimum, do the following: <ul><li>Talk to your family about this subject. </li><li>Keep sufficient <i>drinking water</i> on hand. </li><li><i>Write down</i> important phone numbers. </li><li>Keep your cars at least half full of fuel. </li><li>Keep cash on hand.</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-11386733″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-11386735″ align=”center”>Amateur Radio Disaster Preparedness</div><div id=”ctrl-11386736″>You must make sure your personally prepared for a disaster before you can even consider helping with Amateur Radio. If you are preoccupied with personal matters, you won&#39;t be able to help us. To be ready for disaster communications, do the following:</div><ol><li>Train regularly with your local ARES group. You play like you practice. </li><li>Think about how you might best be able to help during a disaster. Some of us are good at installing antennas and equipment, others of us are better at operating on the air. Not everyone is suited to doing every job. Sometimes just having helping hands, spare equipment or supplies can be helpful even if you cannot operate the radios yourself. Generators need fuel, operators need coffee, stations need to be set up.Figure out where you best fit in. Decide how you can help out if: <ol><li>you stay home. Can you deploy at a shelter or EOC for a few hours? Operate from home? </li><li>must evacuate. Can you deploy from where you have evacuated to, such as a shelter? </li></ol></li><li>Have all resource materials you need in <i>printed</i> form. Don&#39;t depend on computers, PDAs and so forth as they may not work in a disaster, require electricity and are relatively fragile. </li><li>If you use a computer regularly in your on-the-air operations, make sure you practice doing things such as calling nets and handling traffic the pencil-and-paper way once in a while. Remember, you are you may not be able to spare the amp-hours or the table space to run a computer. </li><li>Have an Amateur Radio ready kit to supplement your personal ready kit. Some items to include: <ol><li>Portable radio, antenna and power supply or batteries (2 sets) </li><li>Headset or earphones (you may be operating in a noisy area) </li><li>Any cables you could possibly need </li><li>Pencils and Paper </li><li>Clipboard (firm writing surface, you may not have one otherwise) </li><li>Radiogram forms (helpful but not absolutely required) </li><li>Operating aids (pink card, Field Resources Manual, list of ARRL numbered radiograms, and anything appropriate for your local area) </li><li>Small tools (multi-tip screwdriver, multitools, etc.) </li><li>ARES Identification Card, if appropriate </li><li>Important phone numbers and frequencies </li><li>Map of the area </li><li>Flashlight </li><li>Poncho – very small to store, only around $2 and can be useful when you least expect. </li></ol></li></ol><ul>If carried in lieu of a personal ready kit, a few other items may be helpful:<ul><li>For a short deployment, a bottle of water plus some crackers or something to eat requiring no preparation could make things much more bearable for you </li><li>Medicine </li><li>Toilet paper – small packets from MRE kits are very handy and don&#39;t take up much room. </li><li>Moist towelettes</li></ul></ul><div id=”ctrl-11386766″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-11386768″ align=”center”>Internet Resources for Disaster Preparedness</div><div id=”ctrl-11386769″>Most of these are in Adobe PDF format, so you will need a PDF reader. Some of the larger documents can be purchased, this may be more economical than printing them out.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386770″><b>Department of Homeland Security</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386771″>Information on how to make a kit of emergency supplies, make a plan for what you will do in an emergency, and be informed about different kinds of threats.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386772″><a href=”http://www.ready.gov” class=”userlink”>http://www.ready.gov</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386774″><b>Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness (PDF)</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386775″><a href=”http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/” class=”userlink”> http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386777″><b>FEMA&#39;s Emergency Management Institute – Independent Study Program</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386778″>Online training in many areas of disaster preparedness. </div><div id=”ctrl-11386779″><a href=”http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/” class=”userlink”> http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386781″><b>American Red Cross</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386782″>Publications about Family Disaster Planning, Personal Workplace Disaster Supplies Kit, Animals Safety and many more.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386783″><a href=”http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/” class=”userlink”> http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386785″>ARC disaster preparedness materials for seniors, children, people with disabilities and animal and pet owners.Disaster preparedness materials for seniors, children, people with disabilities and animal and pet owners.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386786″><a href=”http://www.prepare.org” class=”userlink”>http://www.prepare.org</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386788″><b>Amateur Radio</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386789″>The ARES Field Resources Manual, Public Service Communications Manual and many operating aids are available for download.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386790″><a href=”http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/pubservice.html” class=”userlink”> http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/pubservice.html</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386792″>Certification and Continuing Education – online courses you can take to learn more about Amateur Radio procedures for disaster communications</div><div id=”ctrl-11386793″><a href=”http://www.arrl.org/cce” class=”userlink”>http://www.arrl.org/cce</a></div><div id=”ctrl-11386795″><b>Nitro-Pak</b></div><div id=”ctrl-11386796″>A supplier of personal disaster preparedness kits and other similar items.</div><div id=”ctrl-11386797″><a href=”http://www.nitro-pak.com” class=”userlink”>http://www.nitro-pak.com</a></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/05/08/Personal-Disaster-Preparedness.aspx John Covington / W4CC 05/08/2013 03:18:00 /blog/2013/05/08/Personal-Disaster-Preparedness.aspx Ham Radio in the 21st. century <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-18879916″>Many of today’s experienced engineers got their start in electronics through amateur, or “ham,” radio. (Many theories exist over the origin of the term “ham radio,” but there is no consensus.) Over the years, however, the demands of these engineers’ work, families, and communities took precedence, and many hams lost interest and let their licenses lapse. Meanwhile, with the rise of personal communications and Internet connectivity in homes, many young engineers never needed ham radio as a way to explore electronics. They’ve missed the opportunity that this fascinating hobby presents.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879917″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879919″> The first wireless communicators were by definition all amateurs. Guglielmo Marconi himself, generally regarded as the inventor of radio, once famously remarked that he considered himself an amateur. In the early days of radio, commercial, government, and amateur stations shared the same spectrum, sending broadband spark-generated transmissions modulated by on/off keying using Morse code to convey messages. This practice resulted in a horrendous amount of interference among services until the government stepped in and assigned various services to specific bands.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879920″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879922″> Government and commercial stations were assigned the supposedly more useful, less-than-1500-kHz, long- and medium-wave spectrum, and the amateurs were banished to the less-than-200m wavelengths with frequencies higher than 1500 kHz. The experts of the day regarded these bands as worthless for long-distance communications.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879923″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879925″> The amateurs soon discovered that long-distance communications were actually easier at these frequencies. New allocations were then created to give government and commercial stations some of the “good” spectrum. However, a handful of slices of the spectrum were reserved for the amateurs. In the late 1960s, amateurs laid claim to all of the apparently useless frequencies higher than 30 GHz. Since then, as technology has marched on, other services have discovered that these frequencies are useful; amateurs currently enjoy exclusive rights to the frequencies greater than 300 GHz.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879926″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879928″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879930″>In the United States, Part 97 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations controls the amateur-radio service (<a href=”http://www.edn.com/design/communications-networking/4368553/Ham-radio-in-the-21st-century-4368553?page=2#references” target=”_blank” class=”userlink”><b>Reference 1</b></a>). It expresses the fundamental purpose of the amateur-radio service in the following principles: recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary, noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications; continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art; encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules that provide for advancing skills in both the communications and the technical phases of the art; expansion of the reservoir within the amateur-radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts; and continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879932″><b>Licensing</b></div><div id=”ctrl-18879933″>Part 97 requires that amateur stations obtain licenses before they can transmit. The process for getting a ham-radio license has evolved over the years. Long ago, an applicant had to pass a rigorous technical exam that included drawing schematics from memory. The exams have changed considerably. All of the questions are now multiple-choice and cover technical, operating, and regulatory topics, and all of the questions and answers—both right and wrong—are available in the public domain. Furthermore, the governments of many countries—notably, the United States—have effectively outsourced the job of testing.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879934″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879936″>In the United States, volunteer examiners now administer the examinations. Volunteer-examiner coordinators arrange for testing sessions at convenient places and times (<b>Figure 1</b>). Upon successful completion of an exam by an applicant, the coordinators forward the required data to the Federal Communications Commission, which then issues licenses, with call signs—to identify each licensee and his or her location of license using a prefix and a suffix. In the United States, three classes of license now exist, each conveying a set of privileges, including permitted bands, modes, and power levels. Passing a more advanced exam entitles the licensee to more privileges.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879937″> The US amateur-licensing process no longer requires knowledge of Morse code for any class of license. This requirement has historically been a major impediment for many technically skilled individuals who were interested in ham radio but who could not or would not conquer Morse code. Ironically, the portions of the bands reserved for CW (continuous-wave) operation are busier than ever, as new licensees discover that narrow-band modes are more effective for weak-signal work than are wider-bandwidth modes, such as SSB (single-sideband) voice.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879938″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879940″> Many amateurs make contacts using voice modes, primarily SSB mode on HF and FM on VHF and UHF. The signal- processing capabilities of a soundcard-equipped PC that connects to an HF SSB or a VHF FM transceiver have driven the emergence of new modes. Even a modestly equipped PC has sufficient speed to generate and decode the FSK signals for conventional radio teletype. </div><div id=”ctrl-18879941″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879943″>Experimenters have created modulation schemes and accompanying protocols, complete with forward-error correction, which enable direct keyboard-to-keyboard contacts even with low power and small antennas. The variety of FSK and PSK signals being used create unusual buzzing and chirping sounds when traveling to a speaker, and computers easily demodulate them and turn them into legible text. Some ingenious hams even use the PC’s signal-processing capabilities to emulate the signals that World War II-vintage mechanical text-to-radio systems, such as Hellschreiber, generated.</div><div id=”ctrl-18879944″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-18879946″> Some hams also engage in transmission of full-motion video signals—usually on VHF or UHF bands, on which sufficient bandwidth is available. Others transmit still pictures on HF, using voice-bandwidth signals and a PC. Data networks have also evolved using various systems, including TCP/IP. </div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/04/27/Ham-Radio-in-the-21st-century.aspx Doug Grant / K1DG 04/27/2013 22:35:00 /blog/2013/04/27/Ham-Radio-in-the-21st-century.aspx 4 Skills For Better Radio Communications <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-2878095″>The portable radio is the single-most versatile piece of equipment that a firefighter or officer can carry into a hazardous situation.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878096″>Why do I believe that? Because portable radios are the primary means for:</div><div id=”ctrl-2878097″><br></div><ul><li>All responders to begin becoming informed and educated about the incident once the first firefighter or officer arrives on the scene;</li><li>The incident commander to execute command and control activities;</li><li>Officers and firefighters deployed to tactical assignments in the hazard area to communicate their observations and progress to the IC and to receive updated orders; and</li><li>Personnel in the hazard area back to talk to the IC should there be a Mayday event.</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-2878104″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2878106″>For all of the above types of communication to work, however, it is imperative that all portable radios on the scene are in good working order and that all personnel are skilled and practiced in their operation.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878107″><b>Know your hardware</b></div><div id=”ctrl-2878108″> Your life may one day depend upon knowing which button or knob on your portable radio to use — and you might only have one chance to get it right. Using the incredible capabilities of today&#39;s portable radios is a critical skill, and like any other skill, if you don&#39;t use it, you lose it.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878109″>Practice often using your radio&#39;s different features while wearing firefighting gloves, especially with those features that you don&#39;t routinely use. If that day comes when you really need a particular feature of your radio, chances are you&#39;ll be in a firefight, so prepare.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878110″>Maintain the radio and its battery according to the manufacturer&#39;s recommendations. All of the major radio manufacturers have gone to great lengths to produce operating manuals and supporting media. Take advantage of these to build your body of knowledge about your radio.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878111″>Follow the manufacturer&#39;s recommendations for charging the batteries. Label the batteries and keep a battery log; in the log, track each battery&#39;s life cycle. Replace a battery when it no longer holds a charge for the recommended length of time.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878112″>Carbon particles from smoke, dirty water, sheetrock dust and other fireground goo can quickly compromise radio functions. Compressed air cleaners, like those used to clean computer keyboards and other electronic equipment, are great for keeping microphone and speaker ports clear of debris.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878113″>Pay particular attention to contact points for remote microphones and clean according to the manufacturer&#39;s recommendations. An ordinary pencil eraser is a good tool for removing corrosion safely, so keep those contacts shiny for maximum performance.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878114″>Remember Murphy&#39;s Law. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong and usually at the most inopportune time. Carefully review and practice troubleshooting guidance provided by the manufacturer. Your ability to work through a radio malfunction on scene may be critical to your safety and that of others.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878115″><b>Basic radio practices</b></div><div id=”ctrl-2878116″> Learn and master the following components of radio communication under non-stressful conditions. Doing so will greatly enhance your portable radio communication, especially when the heat is on.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878117″><br></div><ul><li>Before speaking, formulate what information is being communicated and put the information in a standardized reporting template. If your organization has a standardized format for radio communications, learn it and use it consistently. An example of such a format is: [Who are you calling?] &quot;Command [Who are you?] from Engine 26. [Where are you?] My crew is on stairwell, advancing to second floor with attack line. [CPR (conditions, progress and resources)]. Heavy heat and smoke conditions. Holding our position. Need ventilation of second floor before we can continue.&quot;</li><li>Often, ICs are overwhelmed by excess information on the radio. This is where consistent use of a standard radio-reporting format will help determine if information needs to be transmitted. Develop your radio discipline by asking yourself: Has anything changed from my last CPR report? If face-to-face communication is possible between members of a crew and the information is not needed by the IC, don&#39;t get on the radio.</li><li>Emergency scenes are heavy with noise pollution from running apparatus and portable power equipment like saws, ventilation fans, etc. Your radio might also be exposed to rain, snow or water from firefighting operations. Minimize microphone exposure by practicing shield, move and talk — shield the microphone using your hand, the bill of your helmet or your turnout coat; move away from the source of exposure, even if you can only turn your back to the source; talk directly into the microphone as much as possible, and keep the microphone 1 to 2 inches away from your mouth. If you do not have a speaking diaphragm or voice port on your facepiece, position the microphone against your lower jawbone on the skirt of the facepiece.</li><li>When speaking into a microphone use a loud, clear and controlled voice — avoid shouting. When excited, our speech is often both louder and faster. When this happens, our radio transmissions can be unintelligible and may require the IC to ask for a rebroadcast, and thus more radio traffic on the channel. If your intended receiver is consistently asking you to repeat radio communication, you probably need to work on this.</li></ul><div id=”ctrl-2878124″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2878126″>These skills can improve your radio transmissions quality, but what about the communication that comes your way? All of that noise pollution can certainly diminish your ability to hear the information that others are trying to get to you via your radio.&#160;</div><div id=”ctrl-2878127″><b>Hearing aid</b></div><div id=”ctrl-2878128″> The introduction of the remote microphone for portable radios, or collar mic, has greatly helped to overcome this challenge, but we lose that advantage when we don&#39;t keep the remote mic in close proximity to our ear.&#160;</div><div id=”ctrl-2878129″>Another useful adjunct is a set of foam earplugs; these can reduce the level of high-frequency noise from engines, power saws, operating hose lines, etc., and enable radio communications to be more clearly understood.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878130″>I found this to be true as a command officer. After I&#39;d declared the incident under control, I would leave the noise-controlled environment of my command vehicle to do some managing by walking around. My earplugs enabled me to clearly hear all radio traffic coming over my remote mic that was clipped to the collar of my turnout coat.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878131″>Yet, technical issues can arise. You need to recognize technical problems and take corrective action to improve communications. Do not tolerate an inoperable radio when you are in the hazard area. If you cannot communicate with the incident commander, it&#39;s an accountability and safety issue. Get it fixed or get out.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878132″><b>Radio position</b></div><div id=”ctrl-2878133″> The optimal position for a portable radio transmission is at head height with the antenna in a vertical position. Not exactly the position you may find yourself when involved in fire combat operations, right?&#160;</div><div id=”ctrl-2878134″>Place your radio in the radio pocket of your turnout coat while you&#39;re crawling along the floor and this is what you have. What&#39;s the problem? The radio&#39;s antenna is far from its optimal transmitting position and some of the transmitted energy is absorbed by your body.&#160;</div><div id=”ctrl-2878135″>The result is a poor radiation pattern and a reduction in range of the radio. One solution is to move to a position where you can sit up and get the radio closer to its optimal transmitting position.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878136″>Many users do not use a radio pocket or radio case. While this certainly puts the radio in a slightly better transmitting position, it also exposes the radio to heat, smoke, water and particulates. Left unprotected, the radio may fail to operate when you most need it.&#160;</div><div id=”ctrl-2878137″>Radio cases with shoulder straps provide little protection and are an entanglement hazard when worn on the exterior of turnouts.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878138″>Good radio communications are critical for safe, efficient and effective operations on the emergency scene. How many times has poor incident communications been cited as a significant factor in NIOSH investigations of firefighter fatalities on the fireground?</div><div id=”ctrl-2878139″>Follow the advice I&#39;ve provided here and I firmly believe that you&#39;ll have taken significant steps to minimize poor communication, and in turn, set up you and your team for fireground success.</div><div id=”ctrl-2878140″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2878142″>About the author</div><div id=”ctrl-2878143″> Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire &amp; EMS Department for 26 years. He was an active instructor for fire, EMS, and hazardous materials courses at the local, state, and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master of science degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy&#39;s Executive Fire Officer Program. Since his retirement in 2007, he has continued to be a life-long learner working in both the private and public sectors to further develop his &quot;management sciences mechanic&quot; credentials. He makes his home in Alexandria, Virginia. Contact Robert at </div><div id=”ctrl-2878144″><a href=”mailto:robert.avsec@firerescue1.com” class=”userlink”>Robert.Avsec@FireRescue1.com</a></div><div id=”ctrl-2878146″><br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/04/22/4-Skills-For-Better-Radio-Communications.aspx Robert Avsec 04/22/2013 03:02:00 /blog/2013/04/22/4-Skills-For-Better-Radio-Communications.aspx Communications in the Incident Command System <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-2396548″>Today, ICS provides a rich set of tools for managing human and technological resources to ensure effective and efficient management of emergencies of all scales. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396549″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396551″>Unfortunately, as we have often seen, communications and command failures are intertwined. Structured, consistent means of managing communications resources are necessary, particularly during incidents involving multiple agencies. ICS establishes basic principles, practical tools, and a definitive structure for supporting communications needs during emergency response. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396552″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396554″>This Issue Brief presents background on communications within the National Incident Management System and its Incident Command System. It examines the role of communications within these constructs, as well as in the context of multi-agency response to disasters and emergencies. It concludes with operational best practices for effective use of incident communications units. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396555″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396557″>Homeland Security Presidential Directives</div><div id=”ctrl-2396558″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396560″>In 2003, President George W. Bush issued two directives that have had a profound impact on emergency response and management in the United States. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5), issued on February 28, and HSPD-8, issued on December 17, are only in the beginning phases of implementation by local, state, tribal, and federal governments. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396561″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396563″>HSPD-5</div><div id=”ctrl-2396564″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396566″>HSPD-5, “Management of Domestic Incidents,” established a single, comprehensive National Incident Management System (NIMS), to be developed and administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use by all levels of government. It noted that for purposes of interoperability and compatibility, “NIMS [would] include a core set of concepts, principles, terminology, and technologies covering the Incident Command System; multi-agency coordination systems; unified command; training; identification and management of resources (including systems for classifying types of resources); qualifications and certification; and the collection, tracking, and reporting of incident information and incident resources.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396567″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396569″>HSPD-5 also required the secretary of DHS to develop, submit for approval, and administer a National Response Plan (NRP) that would use NIMS for the provision of federal support to state and local agencies during domestic incidents. It required the adoption and use of NIMS by federal agencies in support of state and local government during domestic incidents and established federal Fiscal Year 2005 as the beginning of requirements for NIMS adoption by state and local agencies receiving federal preparedness assistance. It also required development of standards and guidelines for assessing that adoption. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396570″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396572″>HSPD-8</div><div id=”ctrl-2396573″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396575″>HSPD-8, “National Prepared-ness,” provided further definition of requirements that would affect agencies receiving federal assistance. Its purpose is to strengthen preparedness capabilities of all levels of government to terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. It required development of a National Preparedness Goal (NPG) that includes readiness metrics, as well as full implementation of a closely coordinated interagency grant process for first responder preparedness assistance by the end of federal Fiscal Year 2005. The directive notes that, “[t]o the extent permitted by law, federal preparedness assistance will be predicated on adoption of statewide comprehensive all-hazards preparedness strategies.”&#160; See </div><div id=”ctrl-2396576″><a href=”http://www.search.org/programs/safety/” class=”userlink”>SEARCH</a></div><div id=”ctrl-2396578″>.</div><div id=”ctrl-2396579″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396581″>Three of the seven national priorities articulated in the NPG are particularly relevant to the communications aspect of emergency response: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396582″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396584″>• Implementation of a NIMS </div><div id=”ctrl-2396585″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396587″>• Strengthening of information-sharing and collaboration capabilities </div><div id=”ctrl-2396588″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396590″>• Strengthening communications interoperability. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396591″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396593″>The NPG relies on an approach called Capabilities-Based Planning to reach the goal. The approach uses 15 standardized National Planning Scenarios, a Universal Task List (UTL) to reference tasks performed by all levels of government and different disciplines during incidents, and a Target Capabilities List (TCL) that identifies capabilities needed to perform the tasks. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396594″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396596″>The National Response Plan provides a concept of operations with which state and local emergency operations plans are intended to be aligned. Emergency operations plans are supported by or built on standard operating procedures (SOP) that are intended to be consistent with NIMS guidelines, standards, and protocols. Emergency planners are expected to identify tasks from the UTL that their organizations need to perform based on their assigned roles and mission. The TCL descriptions are used to determine the capabilities needed to accomplish these tasks. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396597″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396599″>Currently, there are 36 capabilities in the TCL, of which 32 are grouped into four mission areas: prevent, protect, respond, and recover. The remaining four are capabilities common to all mission areas. Interoperable communications is second among the four common capabilities. The other three are planning, citizen preparedness and participation, and risk management. Adoption and incorporation of NIMS and the capabilities listed on the TCL will lead to advanced interagency communications that support common response processes. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396600″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396602″>Specific information on the National Response Plan tasks and capabilities can be found in the DHS Lessons Learned Information Sharing Web site. The Lessons Learned Information Sharing Web site is available only to emergency response providers and homeland security officials. Registration is required and eligibility is verified. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396603″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396605″>Effects of HSPD-5 and 8 on Local Agencies</div><div id=”ctrl-2396606″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396608″>The federal government has been most significantly affected by these presidential directives. Local government, however, is recognized as the provider of the vast majority of first response capabilities in the United States. As reliance on federal funding of local first response has grown since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, local agencies have become subject to the presidential directives. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396609″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396611″>One intent and effect of the HSPDs was to standardize the mechanisms by which government agencies work together during emergency incidents. As directed, preparedness assistance grant programs have become closely coordinated with implementation of the NRP, adoption of NIMS, and realization of target capabilities. Work is under way by committees of practitioners working through DHS to define conditions and standards for each task, as well as performance measures and metrics to assess capabilities. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396612″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396614″>In federal Fiscal Year 2005, the DHS linked its grant programs to completion of Tactical Interoperable Communications Plans (TICP). Each region receiving Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding was required to complete a TICP, as were designated metropolitan areas in states without UASI regions. The plans were due by May 1, 2006, to be followed by exercises within the jurisdictions validating the plan within a broader homeland security exercise and evaluation program. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396615″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396617″>Principles of NIMS ICS</div><div id=”ctrl-2396618″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396620″>In March 2004, DHS introduced NIMS. It is, first and foremost, a common set of concepts, principles, terminology, and technology to improve emergency response. It also provides standard resource, organizational, and operational definitions. One key NIMS component is an ICS familiar to many first responders across the country. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396621″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396623″>The NIMS ICS is built from 30 years of experience with large-scale emergencies. Based on military models, early Incident Command Systems emerged in the public safety world through efforts of California firefighting and emergency management agencies to deal with devastating wildfires. These systems broadened and evolved over the years to now serve in emergencies and disasters of all types. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396624″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396626″>NIMS ICS evolved primarily from the earlier National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS), a system broadly adopted previously by local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. It is the NIMS command and management subsystem designed to provide effective and efficient tools for emergency response. Today, NIMS ICS use is a requirement of federal funding for agencies in domestic emergency response. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396627″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396629″>ICS Principles and Communications</div><div id=”ctrl-2396630″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396632″>NIMS ICS is based on 14 management principles. Two are particularly notable when it comes to communications interoperability. ICS is built on the following: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396633″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396635″>• Common terminology covering organizational structures, operational resources, and facilities </div><div id=”ctrl-2396636″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396638″>• Integrated communications, including development and use of a common communications plan covering processes and technology. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396639″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396641″>Common Terminology</div><div id=”ctrl-2396642″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396644″>The importance of common terminology is clear in interagency communications: responders cannot coordinate and cooperate if they are unable to understand one another when they try to communicate. The need for common terminology precedes incident response, however. Pre-incident planning and coordination require a common language to articulate needs, describe processes, establish policies, craft joint SOPs, and ultimately command resources during interagency operations. Interagency communications SOPs require a common dialect for describing the “who, when, why, where, what, and how” of operations. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396645″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396647″>Integrated Communications</div><div id=”ctrl-2396648″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396650″>Under ICS, communications and incident action plans have to be integrated to capture management goals and operational objectives. Integration of supporting services and technologies is critical to effective incident response. Since responder safety and effectiveness are closely related to how well communications support them, the capabilities and capacity of systems to support operations is taken into account continuously during incident action planning. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396651″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396653″>Communications is integrated into ICS-based management systems by the early establishment of a communications unit during incidents and involvement of the communications unit leader in incident action planning. This is not only to ensure that the response is well supported by communications, but also to reinforce chosen command structures and operating principles generally embodied in ICS, such as management span of control. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396654″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396656″>Integrated communications: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396657″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396659″>• Ensures that incident management goals and objectives are captured </div><div id=”ctrl-2396660″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396662″>• Maximizes responder safety and accountability </div><div id=”ctrl-2396663″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396665″>• Is continuous throughout an incident </div><div id=”ctrl-2396666″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396668″>• Reinforces command structure and span of control. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396669″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396671″>Communications in the ICS Structure</div><div id=”ctrl-2396672″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396674″>The communications unit is often established early in multi-agency and large-scale responses managed under ICS to support the integration effort. This is intended to bring all communications functions close to incident command, rather than having them managed far from pressing operational considerations. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396675″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396677″>Structurally, the communications unit in NIMS ICS operates in the logistics section, under the service branch. See Figure 1. It is managed by a unit leader, consistent with other NIMS position-naming conventions. Dispatchers (radio operators) and communications technicians serving the incident are also part of the unit. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396678″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396680″>Operational Best Practices</div><div id=”ctrl-2396681″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396683″>Implementation of multi-agency incident communications systems organized under ICS first demands a rigorous definition of operational plans far beyond communications. Many, if not most, cases of interagency communications failures are attributable to either poor command systems or a weak definition of interagency operational needs. Who needs to talk to whom under what circumstances must be defined well before communications can serve to enable their response. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396684″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396686″>For example, even the common citizen can understand that having all responders on a single radio channel during an event of any significant size would be chaos. Likewise, conducting command, operational, and logistics tasks on a single channel during a sizeable emergency is a recipe for disaster. Separate channels for individual functions are crucial to maintaining command and control. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396687″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396689″>Hierarchical Communications</div><div id=”ctrl-2396690″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396692″>Whether communications occur by voice over radio, data over fixed wires, or even in person, there is great need in organizations—particularly those evolving dramatically during the compressed time frames of emergencies—to communicate “through channels.” From military roots, the ICS provides a hierarchical chain of command that expands and contracts based on the size and needs of incidents. Through this classical organization of human functions, each person fulfilling a role has a clear route, if not means, of communications up and down the chain of command. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396693″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396695″>ICS responders speak of the need to “talk up one and down one,” meaning that they need to talk up the command chain one slot to their supervisor and down one to everyone they supervise. Beside the incident commander (IC), who is the top-level supervisor from an incident command perspective, and the lowest crew member, who supervises no one, every other person in the command chain needs to talk through channels up one and down one. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396696″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396698″>The common citizen probably does not recognize how easily communications channels get overwhelmed or how difficult it is to sift out extraneous information during intense emergencies. Too much information can be as debilitating as not enough. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396699″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396701″>Often, the need for interagency communications arises because response elements have not been combined into a single operational unit, leading to a need for more communications resources: yours, mine, and now ours. The age-old approach of patching each responder’s channel into one big party line often causes more problems than it solves. The amount of traffic on each channel is potentially multiplied by the number of channels being combined—just when internal communications needs skyrocket. The sheer volume of information and context-switching demanded during large emergencies forces greater focus in communications, not simply more. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396702″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396704″>Hierarchical communications is part and parcel of the ICS. The organizational structure of an incident response that cannot be drawn clearly cannot be served adequately by communications. In effect, the lines between functions in an ICS organization chart depict needed channels of communications of some form or another. Multiple or circular paths of command / communications in such a chart are clear indicators of where communications problems will occur. The notion of “one up, one down” is of much greater intent than merely how many radio channels one person can manage. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396705″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396707″>Communications Procedures</div><div id=”ctrl-2396708″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396710″>Clearly, operational definition of requirements is necessary for communications to support needs during an actual response. It is impossible to build communications capabilities in preparation for or during emergencies without a detailed understanding of the responders’ individual and organizational hierarchy needs. Certain operational best practices have arisen and are offered in this Issue Brief for consideration. Communications procedures, formalized position duty descriptions, incident staffing recommendations, and a sample incident communications plan are provided. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396711″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396713″>The following communications procedural practices have been widely adopted in multi-hazard response systems. The term “channel” is used here in a generic sense to refer to any of a wide variety of means of communicating from one point to another using electrical or electromagnetic signals. Voice radio channels may be most commonly assumed, although other forms of communications are equally applicable. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396714″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396716″>Emergency Traffic Even during emergencies, a given radio transmission may have a higher or lower priority over competing traffic for the channel. The phrase “emergency traffic” is used to gain priority access to a unit’s operational or designated emergency channel. The phrase is transmitted by the responder in need, causing the channel controller—often a unit leader, dispatcher, or radio operator—to stop other use of the channel and defer to the caller until normal traffic can resume. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396717″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396719″>Channel Span of Control</div><div id=”ctrl-2396720″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396722″>How many resources can be assigned? The optimum number of units on a channel is very dependent on their tasks. Some positions and tasks require very little access to radio channels, while others make heavy use of a single channel between team members and stake responder safety on access to it. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396723″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396725″>Ideally, a single channel is assigned to support and enforce the standard ICS span of control of one manager or supervisor over three to seven subordinates. That may be the operations section chief communicating with three functional group supervisors or a group supervisor communicating with five tactical team leaders, for example. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396726″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396728″>The most common response heard from communications and incident managers faced with the need to maintain a channel span of control is that limited channel availability prevents this from being implemented. The result is too many people on too few channels—and communications overload. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396729″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396731″>A corollary is that responders using a channel can and do become overwhelmed by the amount of traffic on it, particularly if the traffic isn’t immediately relevant to their assignment. This leads to lost messages, contention between users, and—too often—responders turning down the volume on their radios to focus attention. Anyone ever involved in a large-scale emergency response with dozens of responders in a small area, each carrying a radio with busy channels, knows how difficult communicating can become. Responders conditioned to rely on scanning multiple radio channels during routine emergencies are most adversely affected when the volume of communications in larger incidents outstrips their ability to assimilate all the information and their radio’s ability to prioritize incoming transmissions. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396732″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396734″>There is no easy answer to this dilemma of too much communications for too few channels. The most critical resource shortage in this regard is for voice radio channels, but it can and does occur with other channels of communications, such as data networks. Ultimately, there has to be greater capacity or less demand one way or another. As is regularly experienced, the alternative is to suffer the proverbial “commo problems.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396735″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396737″>Communications and incident managers must look for opportunities to reduce radio traffic when channel availability is constrained. This can be done procedurally and/or through adaptation of technical capabilities. In the former case, procedures can be implemented to reduce the amount of traffic contending for limited channel space. Greater communications discipline is needed as incidents grow in size, somewhat limiting raw demand for channels. Similarly, teams of responders able to communicate directly among themselves, without resorting to radio transmission, may have to do so in order to release the channel for more pressing needs. Delegated and dispersed decision-making reduces communications demands as well. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396738″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396740″>Technology itself also leads to overwhelmed channels of communications. In routine emergencies, responders may need access to channels that cover entire jurisdictions. As incidents grow in size and the pace of activity increases, responders become responsible for fewer, more intense and focused tasks. In such cases, their communications needs narrow in geographic scope, too. The solution is to simplify communications, where possible. Use of direct, simplex radio channels in tactical operations, for example, can release wide-area, repeated channels for more appropriate use. Such localized use allows the channel to be reused elsewhere in the jurisdiction outside of the geographic range of interference between radios. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396741″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396743″>Standard Language</div><div id=”ctrl-2396744″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396746″>Use common terminology, standard resource definitions, naming conventions, and plain language. Much of what passes as poor communications is actually miscommunications. NIMS ICS and its predecessors identify as its first management characteristic the use of common terminology for organizational elements, position titles, resources, and facilities. One of the most important policies that can be established for interagency communications is a common terminology to be used by responders, further reinforced through procedures. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396747″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396749″>In addition, standard resource definitions improve interoperability. From a communications standpoint, it is critical to have standard naming conventions for channels and other communications resources across jurisdictions. It is fairly common for agencies that work together to have common radio channels at their disposal that they are unaware of or that are named so differently that nobody would associate them. Some regions go so far as to establish not only standard names for shared channels or talk groups, but also standard programmed positions in the radios for interagency resources. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396750″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396752″>Last, the most important language policy that can be adopted to improve interagency communications is the use of plain language—eliminating codes and jargon. This is a simple idea, but every vocation and avocation has its own terminology. When these diverge across agencies and disciplines, responders don’t communicate. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396753″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396755″>Communications-Order Model</div><div id=”ctrl-2396756″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396758″>We recommend the use of communications procedures that ensure that messages are received and comprehended. In its simplest form, the communications-order model—as practiced by many emergency response agencies—occurs between two people. It is initiated when the intended receiver indicates readiness to receive a message. The message is transmitted and the receiver restates the message to confirm that it was understood. If correct, the original sender confirms, completing the communications sequence. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396759″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396761″>For example, an exchange between an incident command post and an outer perimeter security team would follow these five steps: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396762″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396764″>1. “Front Street Road Block, this is Command Post.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396765″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396767″>2. “Command Post, Front Street Road Block.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396768″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396770″>3. “Allow the Centerville Tactical Team through and direct it to River Road Staging.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396771″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396773″>4. “Centerville Tactical Team to River Road Staging.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396774″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396776″>5. “Affirmative.” </div><div id=”ctrl-2396777″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396779″>Operational Unit Reporting</div><div id=”ctrl-2396780″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396782″>We recommend using a standardized status reporting procedure for operational units. It provides basic information for command decision-making and responder accountability, while making efficient and effective use of communications channels. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396783″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396785″>The unit can prepare a quick report that provides its current position, progress with its current task, a statement of any resource or support needs, and a simple statement accounting for personnel assigned to the person preparing the report. Such a personnel accountability report provides a positive acknowledgment that the unit is intact and safe. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396786″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396788″>Communications Positions</div><div id=”ctrl-2396789″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396791″>A second set of operational best practices can be drawn from accepted responsibilities for standard ICS communications positions. As previously noted, the National Interagency Incident Management System, or NIIMS, was the primary precursor to NIMS. The position management system developed for NIIMS by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) provides the bulk of formal ICS position descriptions available today. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396792″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396794″>Four positions have been defined within the ICS Communications Unit: the communications unit leader, incident communications technician, incident communications center manager, and radio operator. Task books charting the duties of each position were created by NWCG and are available online. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396795″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396797″>Communications Unit Leader (COML)</div><div id=”ctrl-2396798″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396800″>The communications unit leader, commonly referred to by the position acronym COML, has a host of duties. Broadly, they include the following: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396801″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396803″>• Prepare the Incident Communications Plan. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396804″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396806″>• Establish and manage the Incident Communications Center (ICC). </div><div id=”ctrl-2396807″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396809″>• Manage personnel within the unit. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396810″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396812″>• Manage communications equipment assigned to the incident. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396813″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396815″>• Establish communications capabilities and logical radio nets. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396816″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396818″>• Provide any required off-incident communications links. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396819″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396821″>• Participate in incident action planning.</div><div id=”ctrl-2396822″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396824″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396826″>The COML position is often staffed early in ICS-based response systems. It is one of the few non-command or general staff positions involved in incident action planning. It bears the responsibility of integrating communications—that is, of ensuring that operations are supported by communications by directly participating with incident management. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396827″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396829″>The COML must understand ICS and local response systems well enough to be a contributing “non-commissioned” member of the command team. This typically requires someone with broad technical, managerial, and operational skills, not to mention problem-solving abilities. The position is responsible for developing the Incident Communications Plan (ICS Form 205) and establishing the ICC. The communications plan is traditionally a key part of the Incident Action Plan, itself the central document in emergency response organized under ICS. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396830″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396832″>The COML is responsible for submitting an up-to-date Communications Plan for inclusion in each rendition of the Incident Action Plan, which may be updated during each operational period—often twice daily. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396833″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396835″>The ICC is primarily a point of dispatch and secondarily a depot for equipment and repairs. During larger incidents, it serves as the junction between traditional, standard dispatch centers and the on-scene responders. It generally is collocated with command and planning functions to create the Incident Command Post (ICP). The communications unit leader manages staff, facilities, and other resources assigned to the ICC. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396836″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396838″>Incident Communications Technician (COMT)</div><div id=”ctrl-2396839″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396841″>Incidents involving more than a few agencies and extending over more than a day or two often require communications technician skills. The incident communications technician is needed to deploy advanced equipment and keep it operational. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396842″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396844″>Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM)</div><div id=”ctrl-2396845″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396847″>The incident communications center manager position is filled when the COML’s span of control would be exceeded either by the complexity of the incident, requiring an unusual degree of involvement in incident action planning, or by the number of technicians and radio operators assigned to the unit. The INCM serves primarily to supervise radio operators and manage the increased complexity of an ICC during large incidents. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396848″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396850″>Radio Operator (RADO)</div><div id=”ctrl-2396851″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396853″>Radio operators may either serve as dispatchers or in assignment to incident command or general staff. In the past, RADOs were often pulled from the ranks of on-scene responders and, with little training, were put to work in a command post during incidents. In recent years, however, tactical dispatch teams developed from professional 9-1-1 center staff have become more common. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396854″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396856″>Communications Unit Staffing</div><div id=”ctrl-2396857″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396859″>Under the ICS, standard resource-type definitions are used to distinguish the varied capabilities of different classes of resources. Type I resources—whether individual or team—are the most capable, while Type IV resources are the least capable. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396860″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396862″>Figure 2 (in the printed magazine) depicts a sample resource typing for communications units. It shows how staff numbers and capabilities, equipment, availability, and management capability are used to classify resources. This may be done to prequalify teams before they are dispatched in support of an incident or simply to standardize definitions for classifying existing resources within a region. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396863″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396865″>Communications unit staffing needs vary according to the scope and scale of the incident. More radio operators and communications technicians are needed as more agencies and responders are involved. Multiple communications units may even be necessary for geographically dispersed incidents. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396866″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396868″>Incident Communications Plan</div><div id=”ctrl-2396869″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396871″>As one of many standard forms that have been developed for use with the ICS, the Incident Radio Communications Plan—known as the ICS 205—is used to document radio channel assignments, functions, and technical parameters. Templates may be developed to fit predetermined incident response plans that are then customized as needs dictate. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396872″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396874″>The ICS 205 is a standard part of the Incident Action Plan under ICS. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396875″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396877″>• Specific to an incident or scenario: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396878″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396880″>• Geographically </div><div id=”ctrl-2396881″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396883″>• Scope: number of jurisdictions and disciplines </div><div id=”ctrl-2396884″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396886″>• Scale: number of responders. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396887″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396889″>• Operationally, it identifies: </div><div id=”ctrl-2396890″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396892″>• Participating disciplines / agencies </div><div id=”ctrl-2396893″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396895″>• Incident command structure </div><div id=”ctrl-2396896″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396898″>• Functional communications resource assignments </div><div id=”ctrl-2396899″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396901″>• Usage priorities, procedures, and protocols. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396902″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396904″>The ICS 205 lays out the basic resources available to the incident to meet its goals and objectives. Detailed resource lists, policies, and procedures are adjuncts that may be used by communications unit staff, but are unnecessary and typically unwanted as part of an Incident Action Plan. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396905″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396907″>Operational best practices are key to effective communications under ICS. They include establishing hierarchical communications that follow ICS organizational structures, adopting and using standard communications procedures, activating ICS communications unit positions, and staffing the communications unit based on the extent of the incident. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396908″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396910″>Conclusion The ability of responders to work together across agencies during emergency incidents of all types—interoperability—depends heavily on their ability to communicate. Those communications must follow a well-regulated command structure that establishes roles, responsibilities, and well-understood mechanisms for managing the complexity of the multi-agency response. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396911″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396913″>Communications interoperability means more than just the technological capacity for emergency responders to talk to one another. Communications capabilities in interoperable response systems must be built around the operational goals and objectives of responding agencies in order to serve appropriately as assets rather than liabilities, as has too often happened. The key to good communications is integration of operations with supporting systems comprising people, procedures, and technologies. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396914″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396916″>The best executed plan for communications during incidents cannot overcome poor operational pre-planning, nor can it substitute for proper incident command. On the other hand, poor communications can most certainly disable otherwise adequate emergency response. Well used, communications provides a necessary means for support of emergency response through the Incident Command System. </div><div id=”ctrl-2396917″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-2396919″>Dan M. Hawkins is director of public safety programs for SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, where he manages multiple technical assistance programs to public safety agencies nationwide funded by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. These programs provide assistance in automated systems development, planning and integration of justice information systems, and communications interoperability.</div><div id=”ctrl-2396920″><br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/04/21/Communications-in-the-Incident-Command-System.aspx Dan Hawkins 04/21/2013 04:46:00 /blog/2013/04/21/Communications-in-the-Incident-Command-System.aspx Welcome To The Union County ARES Website ! <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-556841″>Welcome !</div><div id=”ctrl-556842″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-556844″>I want to welcome everyone to the Union County ARES website.</div><div id=”ctrl-556845″>It is still being modified so please check back often.&#160; I will begin soon posting articles on the Blog Page.</div><div id=”ctrl-556846″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-556848″>Thanks again for visiting !</div><div id=”ctrl-556849″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-556851″>Jerry Brewer / N4MIU</div><div id=”ctrl-556852″>Union County ARES EC</div><div id=”ctrl-556853″>COML Trained<br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/04/15/Welcome-To-The-Union-County-ARES-Website-.aspx 04/15/2013 03:36:00 /blog/2013/04/15/Welcome-To-The-Union-County-ARES-Website-.aspx Welcome To The Union County ARES website ! <table cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ id=”tabcolumn-1″ style=”width: 100%; margin-bottom: 15px”><tr><td><div id=”column-1″ usermodifiable=”true” style=”width: 100%”><div id=”ctrl-52106516″>Welcome to the Union County ARES website !</div><div id=”ctrl-52106517″><br></div><div id=”ctrl-52106519″>There will be more items and post added to help to promote ARES in Union County.</div><div id=”ctrl-52106520″>Please check back often !<br></div></div> </td> </tr> </table> /blog/2013/04/12/Welcome-To-The-Union-County-ARES-website-.aspx 04/12/2013 04:03:00 /blog/2013/04/12/Welcome-To-The-Union-County-ARES-website-.aspx