DO NOT act on your own to
provide emergency communication. We must remember that we are to ASSIST
the various served agencies only when called for. An unorganized, knee-jerk
reaction to an emergency situation will create problems and damage our
good will. If you suspect that a potential emergency situation exists that
would require amateur radio communication, please monitor the various assigned
net frequencies for your area. If you suspect we may be needed, notify
your local Emergency Coordinator or Assistant EC.
When a served agency needs our assistance,
they usually alert designated amateur radio operators who are members of
the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Typically, this is the local Emergency
Coordinator who has registered himself and other amateurs IN ADVANCE with
the agencies seeking help. Once called in by the served agency, the EC
(or designated amateur) should notify the District Emergency Coordinator.
The DEC will then notify the Section Emergency Coordinator, who in turn
will notify the Section Manager. Use only enough operators to get the situation
Activation of nets in "Stand By Mode"
to check on availability of amateurs in anticipation of a response is always
a judgment call and can sometimes be worthwhile. Care should be exercised
that no one 'jumps the gun" and confuses the situation.
The EC will normally assign an NCS
for control of the local net, which is to be designated as the "key station."
This station will be used extensively during a communications emergency.
Key station personnel should have full use of emergency power capability
with adequate relief operators assigned to ensure continuous operation.
When an officially activated emergency net is in session, the NET CONTROL
IS THE BOSS. Discipline is essential if operations are to go smoothly.
DO NOT TALK unless specifically asked to do so.
If the emergency should cover more
than the local area, the EC in charge may, at his/her option, ask for activation
of additional traffic nets on a District or Section-wide basis. He will
assign liaison stations to and from these nets.
All messages must be written traffic
in standard NTS Radiogram format. This will give you a written, signed,
and dated record of emergency traffic passed. This is invaluable as an
audit trail and for later critique sessions.
In making this statement we realize
that there will be verbal communications, which are not RADIOGRAMS! It
is ridiculous to even consider the need for a radiogram to advise of a
tornado on the ground or funnel cloud sightings etc. during Skywarn and
other situations. Our reasoning is based on the idea that if the served
agency asks that an important message be transmitted it is worthwhile for
the served agency AND YOU to have a written record of the message and its
origin, destination and content. Radiograms are the quick way to accomplish
All emergency and priority messages
must be SIGNED by the official who originates them, with their title, taking
responsibility for their contents. Message precedence of (E)mergency, (P)riority,
(W)elfare or (R)outine shall be used on ALL messages. The filing time of
(E)mergency and (P)riority traffic is important and must be shown.
During formal nets in disasters,
stations do not transmit unless invited to do so by the net control. The
ONLY exception to this is for a station having EMERGENCY traffic. When
the emergency is over, the Emergency Coordinator, or the amateur in charge,
MUST file a report with the District Emergency Coordinator. The report
should include a description of the traffic handled, duration of the net,
participants, and agencies served. This will be invaluable during a critique
An emergency situation may take many
forms. This could include minor communications assistance to local Police
Authorities in assisting with traffic or crowd control to serving one or
more agencies in a major province-wide disaster such as a chemical spill
or natural disaster.
Likewise, the emergency may be confined
to an area of a few hundred feet to several counties. ARES members must
be able to respond to these situations in a timely and efficient manner.
Should an emergency situation arise which may require the assistance of
ARES Ontario members, the following must be kept in mind:
1. In most situations, the
affected area will be local in nature, confined to a local community or
part of a community. For local communications to be effective, each EC
in the area is encouraged to establish a working relationship with served
agencies in the area particularly the local CEMC official.
2. In all instances, ARES
personnel should not begin to assist unless called upon by an official
of the Served Agency, unless the EC and the served official have worked
out specific other arrangements on a broader basis. It is hoped that the
local EC has made prior efforts to see to it that the Served Agencies are
aware of what radio amateurs can provide. In all instances, it is assumed
that the official of the Served Agency will contact the local EC to request
3. Once the local EC has received
the call for assistance, he should begin notifying his ARES registered
amateurs of the situation. He should also notify the District Emergency
Coordinator, or in his absence, the Section Emergency Coordinator of the
4. In the case of a local
emergency, the EC should begin call-up procedures for emergency net activation
on the local emergency frequency. This is usually accomplished via a repeater
to provide for a wide area coverage, however a simplex two meter frequency
would suffice if coverage is adequate. Once the net is activated, the EC
or his appointed control operator will act as net control for as long as
necessary. The NCS should make every effort to see that emergency traffic
is handled in the most efficient manner as possible. A listing of all traffic,
check-ins (especially mobile) and agencies served should be recorded. For
additional information, refer to the RAC Emergency Coordinator's Manual.
5. In order of priority, requests
from Emergency Management Ontario shall be answered first, followed by
local municipal officials, then other agencies as is necessary.
6. Health and Welfare traffic
will likely, NOT be accepted for several hours, due to the inability to
handle such traffic. In a major emergency, the emphasis will be on handling
true emergency traffic, which provides immediate relief from suffering
and saving lives.
7. The use of Tactical callsigns
during an emergency should provide some indication of the station's operating
location. Stations operating for example from the Provincial Emergency
Operations Centre should use "EMO EOC" and stations operating in the Toronto
EOC should identify themselves as "Toronto EOC". Identification is a requirement
of IC. Stations must give complete station identification at least once
in a 30-minute operating period, particularly when tactical calls are being
8. Under no circumstances
will any ARES appointee attempt to provide support communications for any
agency until instructed do so by the agency officials.
9. The use of any Q signals,
( QSL, QSY etc) during and emergency operation will not be used on phone
nets. These signals were developed for CW nets in order to speed and simplify
net operations. When used on phone they have the potential to be misunderstood.
Additionally, the use of such signals on phone is considered poor operating
10. The common use of "Break"
and " Break-Break" to indicate an emergency shall not be used. It has no
universally understood meaning. The word "EMERGENCY" will be used on phone
to announce information of life or death importance. The standard CW signal
is SOS sent as one character- not 3 spaced letters.
11. NEVER MAKE ANY COMMENT
TO A MEMBER OF THE MEDIA!!! That is the job of the Public Information Officer.
"I CAN'T ANSWER THAT QUESTION." is always a good answer. Refer them to
the PIO. Media personnel are trained to be very convincing and are very
clever at getting you to say something. What they will always be looking
for will be information regarding injuries, deaths, addresses of the most
severe damage, license numbers of vehicles, rail car numbers, and possible
reported causes which might lead them to a trail-of-responsibility/blame”
This type information is confidential and is to be passed only by more
secure means, i.e.packet or courier, which they cannot access by scanner.
If you don't recognize a person as someone you absolutely know, beyond
a shadow of a doubt, to be part of the authorized on-site operations team,
don't discuss the situation with them!
12. Should you ever find yourself
in a situation where you have found a dead body, or body parts, DO NOT
report this to the NCS. Request only that the NCS send the appropriate
authorities and help to your location on a priority basis. If the NCS should
happen to ask for more details, refuse to give them and repeat your request.
A smart and trained NCS operator will catch on quickly. In the case of
a discovered injury or body entrapment, notify the NCS immediately, but
NEVER TRANSMIT THE NAME OF AN INJURED, TRAPPED OR DECEASED SUBJECT.
13. NEVER leave your post
or the person you have been assigned to "Shadow" without notifying the
NCS. If the authorities ask you to move, do so immediately and without
comment; but notify the NCS of your change in status as soon as you can.
Remember: We are communicators.
We do not make decisions about anything for the authorities. They (our
served agencies) are in charge, not us. It is not your call to decide that
more fire engines are needed, or that an emergency generator is needed
somewhere. Your only job is to communicate, when asked to do so, what the
authorities want communicated. They do not have to use you at all; and
many times they won't. Do not insist that they do. You are there to provide
them with an extra way for them to pass information when their communications
systems either fail or become overloaded. Tell them you are available for
service when needed and back off. Speak only when spoken to, stay visible
and pay attention. Nothing can be more embarrassing than to "lose" the
person you are supposed to shadow. (Don't laugh... It has happened!)
It may be quicker and more efficient
to hand your microphone to the person who wishes to pass a message than
to try and relay it yourself. Don't be afraid to let the authorities operate
as third parties. Just hand them the mic and tell them they can't use foul
language. Relays often become incorrectly “translated" by the relay operator,
especially if there is a high percentage of special agency terminology,
technical terms or jargon that you do not really understand.
If an on-scene authority requests
that you shut your radio off, or that you not transmit, please do what
they ask without question. Normally, they will tell you why, but they don't
have to. This is one circumstance where you do not notify the NCS of a
change in your status. This deserves a little explanation. This would normally
occur only If there is a presence of explosives or explosive chemicals
or vapors, and there is the possibility that a spark producing electronic
device is present like blasting caps, smoke detectors, receivers, telephones,
etc., which might be triggered by an RF Signal.
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