Yes, training is the most
important part of ARES Communications. Without it the organization will
not be able to meet its responsibilities.
ARES Communications has the responsibility
to handle traffic in a fast, efficient and accurate manner. This requires
practice. Practice takes time. And time seems to be the one thing everyone
is short of.
The leaders of an ARES Communication
organization must use all of their abilities to insure that the lack of
time for training on the air, or the member's part does not cripple their
A Training Officer can be the key
to a good training program. This person must be an amateur radio emergency
communications expert. Now, not everyone can know everything about everything
ARES requires. A good training plan can help put everything into perspective.
THE TRAINING PLAN
Every public service organization
does not require a training plan. Of course, not every public service organization
can and does effect the outcome of an incident where property and lives
depend on the abilities of the volunteer public servant. Especially if
the service performed requires a high degree of technical and administrative
A solid training plan covers every
position in the organization. The Emergency Coordinator, Packet Manager,
Operator... every position requires training. If there is a position within
an organization that does not require training, than the organization does
not require that position. Everyone should have a job to do and a source
of information to assist in the learning of that job.
There are many publications in this
site, which are outstanding. Equipment and software have operations and
Effective disaster response in a
large-scale emergency requires immediate and sustained coordination between
organizations for the duration of the emergency. Preparing your ARES group
for this type of coordination through effective training and planning is
your responsibility. Remember: "Be Prepared!"
1. To transmit in the voice
mode, always remember to TALK ACROSS THE FACE OF THE MICROPHONE! It is
unfortunate that TV shows don't use this technique when they present, for
example, detective shows. Actually that mike the cop/actor appears to use
is dead--they record him on a high fidelity system with a different mike.
So to make the picture appealing, the actor holds the mike six inches away
and talks directly into it. This is how bad habits are picked up! If you
are using a push-to-talk mike, put your lips right at the edge of the mike
and talk across it. If you have a D-104 or similar fixed station microphone,
it is still a good way to get crisp, clean speech across. Talking across
the mike cuts down on sibilants, breath sounds, the "popping" of "P's"
and similar sounds. This technique makes the communication more understandable.
2. Speak slowly, distinctly,
clearly, and do not let your voice trail off at the end of words or sentences.
3. On FM, hold the transmit
button down for a least a second before beginning your message. This will
assure that the first part of the message is not cut off by a slow squelch
4. Know what you are going
to say before you push the mike button. Don't clutter the air up with:
"Net Control, uh, this is VE, uh, three, uh, xyz, and, uh will you call
Mister, uh, uh, Black to uh, the radio uh, for Mister Green, uh, over?"
It is very easy to confuse the whole transmission if the operator does
not have the facts right on the tip of the tongue and ready to put out
the message in a crisp and orderly fashion.
5. Make sure you are not on
the air with someone else. Listen before transmitting--the pause you hear
from the Net Control Station (NCS) may be deliberate to allow two other
stations to complete a transmission.
6. Chewing gum, eating, and
other similar activities tend to clutter up the clarity of your speech.
7. On 2-meter and other VHF
fragment frequencies, look for a receiving "hot-spot" site and use it,
particularly when on the fringes of communications. Don't walk around talking
while in communications fringe areas. Repeaters have much more power than
your handheld. Even if you have a good signal from the machine, it does
not mean you are good into the machine.
8. Under stress, many operators
have a tendency to talk fast. Even if you are in the midst of the action,
remember to talk slowly and clearly in order to get the message across
correctly. ACCURACY FIRST, SPEED SECOND.
9. Avoid angry comments on
the air at all costs. Also, obscene statements and reflect on the Amateur
Radio fraternity. Remember there are many "scanners" in use by unlicensed
but interested people and, as such, your operating techniques are under
observation all the time.
10. If you are relaying a
message for another person, be sure you repeat the message exactly, word-for-word,
as it is given to you. If it makes no sense to you, get an explanation
before you put it on the air. Refer the message back to the originator
11. Sound alert. Nothing destroys
confidence as much as a bored or weary-sounding radio operator does. If
you are tired, get a relief operator.
12. Forget humour on the air
during drills and obviously in real emergencies. A radio system suffers
enough confusion without wisecracks and jokes. Amateur Radio may be a hobby
to enjoy, but the ARES function is serious business and should be treated
as such at all times.
13. Watch certain words. They
sound almost like the opposite meaning. For example, "can't" almost sounds
like "can," and with a poor signal--who knows. "Unable" is a better choice.
Use "affirmative" instead of "yes." Use "negative" instead of "no." "Roger"
is a good word. It means "message received," implying that it is understood.
It does not mean "affirmative" or "yes." The use of Q signals on ARES voice
circuits is not advisable! They are too easily misunderstood, rarely save
time, and often result in errors.
14. Identification of units
in a multi-station ARES function is a requirement by IC. However, if the
NCS and each of the outlying ARES stations give a complete identification
at least once in a ten-minute period during the contact, the use of abbreviated
call-sign identification or tactical ID is acceptable. As an example, VE3XYZ
can use "3XYZ" or "First-Aid 1" or "Command Central" as long as the complete
call is given by VE3XYZ at 30 minute intervals during the contact and at
the end of the communication.
15. Always identify your unit
at the beginning of each transmission. The NCS, or anyone else for that
matter, needs to know who is calling because voice identification may be
difficult. Identify your unit again when the message exchange is completed,
as required by IC rules.
16. The word "break" is never
used UNLESS there is an emergency. Otherwise, use your call letters to
gain access to the net.
17. Remember that the strongest
signal "captures" the receiver on FM. When two or more stations are on
the air at the same time, confusion can result. Check to see that you are
not overriding someone or blanking out his or her communications with your
18. Do not act as a "relay
station" unless the NCS, or another radio station, asks for a relay--and
you can fulfill the requirement at your station.
19. When transmitting numbers
(house numbers, street numbers, and telephone numbers) always transmit
the number sequences as a series of individual numbers). Never say numbers
in combinations. Example: "12345 SW 148 Ave." is given as a series "one,
two, three, four, five, south west, one, four, eight Avenue." Do not say:
"Twelve three forty-five south west A-hundred forty-eight Avenue." There
is much confusion when sending combinations of numbers.
20. There is no such thing
as "common spelling" in ARES work. If there is a proper name to be transmitted,
always spell it out using the ITU (International Telecommunication Union)
phonetic alphabet. Do not improvise a phonetic alphabet; if you don't know
the recommended phonetics, now is a good time to learn it and use it in
your daily operations.
21. Always acknowledge calls
and instructions. You can acknowledge by just giving your unit identification
or tactical call sign. Nothing is more disruptive to the smooth flow of
communications than dead silence in response to a message. If you cannot
copy, or respond to the call immediately, then tell the caller to repeat
or stand by. Otherwise, acknowledge each call immediately.
22. Never acknowledge calls
and instructions unless you understand the call or instructions perfectly.
If you do not understand, ask for a repeat. Make sure you have the instruction
right before acknowledgment.
23. NCS stations frequently
are very busy with work that is not on the air. If you call the NCS and
do not get a reply, be patient and call again in a minute or two. If it
is an emergency, call more often and so state; otherwise, just space the
calls to the NCS until they answer. You may be in a dead spot; try moving
your position slightly until acknowledged. Above all, be patient.
24. ONLY TRANSMIT FACTS. If
your message is a question, deduction, educated guess, or hearsay, identify
it as such. Do not clutter up the air with non-essential information. Particularly
important is information regarding ARES emergency work where rumors can
be started from overhearing a transmission on a scanner or other non-ARES
receiver. Be careful what you say on the air!
25. Always know where you
are located. If you are mobile or portable and moving around, always keep
a sharp lookout for location identification. The NCS and many others may
need to know exactly where you are physically located, so keep a sharp
eye on surroundings. If called upon, you can accurately describe your location
at any time. This is particularly important if you are with a search team
or other mobile units.
26. Always keep a monitor
on the net frequency. If you must leave the frequency, ask permission from
the NCS to change. Advise the NCS of the change and always report back
to the NCS when you have returned to the net frequency. It is vital that
the NCS knows the whereabouts of each station in the net, and it is up
to you to keep the NCS advised.
27. Stay off the air unless
you are SURE you can be of assistance. It does no good to offer advice,
assistance, comments or other input to a net unless you can truly provide
clarification. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than
to open your mouth and remove all doubt!
28. Many times radio conditions
are poor and words must be over-exaggerated to be understandable. In general,
speak very slowly and distinctly to carry through static or weak signals.
The following list provides pronunciation of numbers in poor conditions:
29. If you do not understand
the whole message given to you or if you missed a word out of the transmission,
reply with "Say again." Do not say, "Please repeat" because it sounds too
much like "Received" when conditions are poor.
30. When you have understood
the message, acknowledge the receipt with the words "received" or "acknowledged."
DO NOT use "QSL" since it may be misunderstood or even missed under poor
conditions. These few rules/suggestions are intended to help you become
a better operator whether in a ham contest or an ARES mission.
Above all, analyze your present operating
methods and try to polish each element so your contribution to ARES is
worthwhile. The NCS may have final authority, but good, crisp operating
methods and procedures almost make a net run without an NCS.
Source: Kentucky Amateur Radio Web
Site – www.kyham.net
Bill Pennington/WA6SLA With special
thanks to Stan
Harter/KH6GBX and April Moell/WA6OPS