I am finalizing the Operations Manual for my county and due to the inflexible attitude of the NTS, I have adopted the following strategy for Health and Welfare traffic:
3.3.3 Official Traffic Station (OTS)
The OTS will maintain communications with the County Control Network as well as served agency shelters with Health and Welfare (H&W) traffic. During Communication Emergencies this station will handle ALL incoming and out-going formal traffic. The main duties of the OTS station are listed below from highest to lowest priority:
1. Act as a liaison with the American Red Cross Safe & Well website (accessed from www.redcross.org
). Per the national Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between ARRL and the American Red Cross:
“ARRL volunteers are encouraged to assist in registering people on the Safe & Well website by passing the required information from a point in the disaster area to someone outside the disaster area who can enter the information on the Safe & Well website.”
The Safe & Well website registers people by first name, last name, address and telephone number(s). A message can be attached to the registration and the entry can be updated as circumstances change. People searching the website for information about someone will need to provide the name and either an address or phone number to access the data. The Shelter ARES station should strive to collect this information (including multiple phone numbers, if appropriate) from all Shelter residents and pass it to the OTS so he can make appropriate entries on the Safe & Well site. Digital messaging using the NBEMS system is the preferred method to transfer this data to the OTS. The OTS must check if an entry already exists for each person and update the existing entry or create a new entry.
2. Individual messages have a lower priority than status information for the Safe & Well website. Secondary priority is assigned to messages with an email address for delivery. The OTS will receive these messages from the shelter, as traffic permits, and will email them directly or optionally transmit them digitally using NBEMS and the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). MARS transmission may be by VHF/UHF to a nearby MARS node, or by HF Winlink if available at the OTS. Outgoing email H & W traffic should contain the following statement:
This email is being transmitted by Summit County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) on behalf of the signer(s) of this message. Please DO NOT REPLY to this email; this account is only for our OUTGOING messages; we are NOT accepting or monitoring incoming emails. Please consult the Red Cross Safe & Well website (accessed from www.redcross.org
) for status updates for the message originator(s). A name and either an address or phone number will be needed to access the status on the website.
3. Individual messages without an email address but with an address or phone number are assigned tertiary priority and will be passed to the ARRL Section Traffic Nets. Formal voice messaging using the ARRL Radiogram form is to be used for this traffic.
Requirements for an OTS include the following:
• An established station outside of the immediate disaster area.
• VHF, UHF and HF capable.
• Emergency power available.
• NBEMS capable to accept and send messages digitally
• Internet services available
• Establish temporary email account (SummitOhioFlood@hotmail.com
, or similar) to send outgoing messages
• Winlink HF capability (optional)
• Familiarity with local NTS Nets
• Formal Message Handling skills
Comments? Suggestions for Improvements?
My only concern is providing the most efficient service to the Shelter residents!