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eHam Forums => Emergency Communications => Topic started by: W0IPL on September 18, 2007, 05:52:52 AM



Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W0IPL on September 18, 2007, 05:52:52 AM
At the risk of letting the trolls out from under the bridge again;

I have been thinking about what to tell new people that are interested in Emergency Communication. How do you tell them the amount of time required, the training they will need and, most importantly, the "why should I" (or shouldn't I - as the case may be). I am looking for input on what I have missed, what I have gotten wrong and what can be improved. The first pass is at:  http://www.w0ipl.net/ShouldI.htm

I am looking for comments rather than just rants - please.

Thanks
 Pat

--
Snoopy best summarized the time for training when he said:
"Five minutes before the party is not the time to learn how to dance."


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: AC2Q on September 18, 2007, 08:55:49 AM
All in All your first pass looks quite concise to me.

Although you left out having to posess a high tolerance for Beurocracy =0)


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W0IPL on September 18, 2007, 12:15:28 PM
"high tolerance for bureaucracy"  - BINGO!

I'll have to find some way to add that. :-)


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KB3LSR on September 18, 2007, 01:54:00 PM
Kind of a moot point, but maybe give a little detail about the FEMA classes, rather than just list them as "IS-100" and so on?  Good work with the page!

73 de KB3LSR


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC8VWM on September 18, 2007, 08:47:32 PM
I would consider removing or revising the following statement:

"The negative side is someone in ECom, just to "be where the action is". These people tend to be wanna-be types. That is to say they wanna-be a policeman, or wanna-be a fireman but do not have what it takes to do either of those jobs. People in that group can do the largest favor to Amateur Radio by not participating in ECom."


Not a rant. Just a few objective observations.

Reason?

The first pint is that we are not trying to discourage real policeman, fire "personnel" (politically correct here) and EMS from participating in emcom activities are we?

The second point is that I know many public service types that also happen to be hams including myself for that matter. I do know what you are trying to convey in that thought and I don't necessarily disagree with the principles behind that statement  however it's not really necessary to articulate that point in such a point blank way.

Perhaps the statement could be revised to indicate  that individuals who demonstrate themselves unprofessionally  when representing themselves in an emcom capacity instead.

In other words, if individuals are interested in becoming an emcom professional, it's not necessary to conduct themselves as a public safety professional - if that makes any sense.

It should be obvious that emcom has it's own specified and defined role. If that role isn't clarified and clearly understood among the volunteering participants, then someone isn't doing something right.

73 de Charles - KC8VWM


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W0IPL on September 18, 2007, 09:47:58 PM
VWM - I think I'm missing your point.

When it says (about newbies) "but do not have what it takes to do either of those jobs" - referring to police or fire positions, I would think that any of the public service (PS) professionals would not think ill of the example. If they already are professionals they obviously - do - have what it takes to do their jobs. Therefore to tell potential ECom newbies that if their (the newbie's) motivation is just to get closer to the incident, it is not a good fit, would actually help the PS professional understand where we are coming from.

As I said, I think I'm not understanding your point.


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W0IPL on September 19, 2007, 06:31:22 AM
LSR - Good point - done.


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on September 19, 2007, 06:33:14 AM
I agree with the earlier comment about fleshing out a description of the ISO classes.

I also can see where VVM is coming from.  The paragraph needs work as it could be off-puting or even seen as derogative.  Lord knows, we have enough people who get into EMCOMM and then pull the ladder up behind them.  We don't need to be putting people off without intent.

Overall, a nice and quick read.  I might add some links to other more detailed sources of EMCOMM info.  I would also consider adding comments about the long times between need, the short notice of need, the financial risks that you face (Skywarn won't fix your car's hail or lightning damage.)


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W5HTW on September 19, 2007, 02:26:12 PM
VWM, is that an oxymoron?  "Emcom professional?"   We are NOT professionals based upon our amateur license.  We MAY be professionals if we are also, coincidentally, police offiers, fire personnel, medical personnel, etc., but an AMATEUR license does not make one a "professional" anything.  That takes a "professional" license.  Once we declare an amateur license is a professional license, we no longer have amateur radio.  

We are amateur volunteers.  If we become something else, amateur radio become extinct.  Once an amateur license is a qualification for a job, any job, it is no longer an amateur license but a professional one, like a welding certification.  Or a CDL.  

I believe this is a serious problem in amateur radio today.  Someone gets an amateur radio license and instantly thinks "Now I am a professional."  It isn't true!!  And the REAL public safety folks do not want self-declared "professinals" wandering around the scene.  Any scene, except perhaps a company picnic.  

We are misleading a lot of people into believing that a ham license is a short cut to police or medical certification, and to being a member of a "government agency."   Not true in the slightest.  But in delivering that impression, we are destroying amateur radio.

ed


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W0IPL on September 19, 2007, 05:19:46 PM
SHZ - "We don't need to be putting people off without intent."

I do appreciate your input.

Having done most of this type of work from rank beginner (1978), to AEC to EC and then to State training manager, I tend to take a harder stand on some things. I am of the opinion that losing a few people that are easily offended or that have not given adequate thought to their own true motivation, is a small price compared to bringing in someone that has an attitude that will offend our served agencies.

If you have some specific thoughts that would accomplish what you are thinking of and yet help weed out those that need to be weeded out, please send them to me at mycall at arrl dot net. I would be happy to discuss your ideas in more detail.


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC8VWM on September 19, 2007, 07:37:26 PM
"Emcom professional?" We are NOT professionals based upon our amateur license.

----


Correct and I agree.

However the context I am using the term "professional is to imply that we conduct ourselves "professionally" as opposed to conducting ourselves as bumbling "Barney Fife's"

Holding an amateur radio license has nothing to do with it really.

73 de Charles - KC8VWM


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KE4SKY on September 20, 2007, 05:13:50 AM
I would simply add the link to the NIMS Course Descriptions, it is:

http://training.fema.gov/IS/NIMS.asp

The thumbnails are:

ICS 100, Introduction to the Incident Command System, introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. This course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

ICS 200 is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS-200 provides training on and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the ICS. Primary Audience is persons involved with emergency planning, response or recovery efforts.
Prerequisites: IS-100.

ICS-700 introduces NIMS and takes approximately three hours to complete. It explains the purpose, principles, key components and benefits of NIMS. The course also contains "Planning Activity" screens giving you an opportunity to complete some planning tasks during this course. The planning activity screens are printable so that you can use them after you complete the course.

ICS-800 describes how the Federal Government will work in concert with State, local, and tribal governments and the private sector to respond to disasters. This course introduces the NRP.  It is intended for DHS and other Federal staff responsible for implementing the NRP, and Tribal, State, local and private sector emergency management professionals.




Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: WA4MJF on September 24, 2007, 12:38:16 PM
Yes, professional usually means doing a
good job.  You want that type of person
in any volunteer endeavor, be it EMCOMM,
VFD, VRS, Auxillary Police, etc.

I have a real problem with the "I'm just
a volunteer, so don't bug me about how
I perform" mentality.  You should in
any endeavor, strive to be as professional
as the paid folks.

I say this being a retired paid LEO, a VFD
officer, a volunteer EMT on a VRS and
an auxillary police officer at various
times in my life.

73 de Ronnie


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W4MKH on October 01, 2007, 01:31:10 PM
Can I have permission to link to that from our ARES site?

I'm the membership AEC for St. Johns county Florida. I've just assumed this position and I'm looking for ideas.

Marshall
W4MKH


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on October 14, 2007, 08:00:48 AM
"......."Emcom professional?" We are NOT professionals based upon our amateur license. We MAY be professionals if we are also, coincidentally, police offiers, fire personnel, medical personnel, etc., but an AMATEUR license does not make one a "professional" anything. That takes a "professional" license. Once we declare an amateur license is a professional license, we no longer have amateur radio."

Compared to some people who are using radios, we are professional 'communicators'.  You're right -- on the other hand.  Unless we actually are a member of the police or fire departments or in the medical profession we do not belong anywhere near anything to do with those duties.

I suppose it would surprise you to know that in times of emergency, in some communities trained amateur radio operators/ARES members do man the dispatch desks of fire and police departments, freeing the officers who usually do those jobs for outside duty.

The majority of us also know how to connect and set up equipment.  Most of the officers, firemen and medical personnel don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socket.  

Its not reasoned out when some people say we're not professional 'anything'--in an emergency, some of us are the closest thing to an all-around radio professional there is.


Title: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K2GW on October 16, 2007, 08:26:49 PM
Getting back to the original point of this thread, W0IPL's webpage does not even contain the word "professional" in it ;-)

I think we tend to use "professional" to avoid negative connotations of the word Amateur, but in this case, as Part 97 says, Amateur simply means non-commercial, not unskilled.  Most hams are far more technically skilled in radio use than most "professionals" who happen to talk on radios everyday.  

A tragic example of this are the films of the NYFD battalion chiefs all standing shoulder to shoulder in the lobby of the World Trade Center unsuccessfully trying to simultaneously recall their fire companies on HT's.  Do the terms "front end overload" and "receiver desensing" come to mind?  The battalion chiefs certainly know a lot more about fighting fires than I do, but I think most hams (even ones without EmComm training) would recognise that communications might have been better if they just stepped a few yards apart.

Thus I think we should try to the use the term "proficent" when describing our EmComm capabailities.  As a way of comparing things, Olympic class atheletes are for the most part "Amateur" but they certainly are "proficent" at their craft.  ;-)

73

Gary, K2GW



Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0EQ on May 18, 2011, 05:04:23 PM
Reading through the emcom posts for the comedic value,
I came across this old statement -


K1CJS wrote:
" ...The majority of us also know how to connect and set up equipment.  Most of the officers, firemen and medical personnel don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socket...."

What a disgusting stance to take. If you honestly think that your club of donut eating, vest wearing HT whackers are going to save the world because your cops, paramedics and firefighters "don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socker" then you clearly demonstrate why no public service agencies take groups like you seriously.


Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke

www.n0eq.com




Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on May 19, 2011, 01:30:29 PM
Reading through the emcom posts for the comedic value,
I came across this old statement -


K1CJS wrote:
" ...The majority of us also know how to connect and set up equipment.  Most of the officers, firemen and medical personnel don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socket...."

What a disgusting stance to take. If you honestly think that your club of donut eating, vest wearing HT whackers are going to save the world because your cops, paramedics and firefighters "don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socker" then you clearly demonstrate why no public service agencies take groups like you seriously.



You know, you are probably correct, but as they never seem to tell us to go home and not to come back, and they never seem to  tire of getting us to do some fairly dangerous work for them (flood gauge monitoring, storm spotting) or boring unpaid work (parade and bike ride safety), I wonder if you are actually wrong.

I just wish they would decide to keep us or dump us. 

If they want us, then they should train with us enough so that their field level people know what we do instead of being a site or incident commander who (and I have experienced this first hand) couldn't tell a Ham radio operator from a Ham sandwich, much less know how to use us to his best advantage.  Enough so that we can tell what we can and can't do for them and we can weed out the Hams that aren't any good at it.

If they don't want us, afford us the courtesy of simply telling us that we aren't needed anymore and I will stop replenishing my go bag.  And have the testicular fortitude to stand by their decision in public.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on May 19, 2011, 04:02:04 PM
What a disgusting stance to take.
So you are personally offended because many people don't know about the internals of the equipment that they use? Are you similarly offended because most cops and soldiers don't know how to make a semi-automatic rifle from scratch? Sorry, but unless they're required to know that stuff, or have it as a hobby, they won't know. They are professionals with enough on their minds - medical protocol, conflict resolution, security etc. without having to solder their own radios or make their own guns and fire engines.
First responder radios are channelized, more and more frequently trunked, and the user doesn't need to bother with modulation and frequency. That's fine and dandy until they stop working.
If they're lucky they have a resident trained expert, but often they'll have to call the supplier service line; those usually respond quickly, but in the interim they need to communicate.

If you honestly think that your club of donut eating, vest wearing HT whackers are going to save the world because your cops, paramedics and firefighters
Hams, cops, paramedics and firefighters all happily eat donuts together, in reflective vests. It boils your blood, doesn't it? We like more healthy baked items over here though.

"don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socker" then you clearly demonstrate why no public service agencies take groups like you seriously.
I suspect the group is taken seriously roughly in proportion to how well trained and integrated they are. And donut eating capacity of course.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W3LK on May 19, 2011, 05:54:55 PM
Check out N0EQ's QRZ listing.

A man who's vehicles look like Army surplus is casting aspersions at ECOM folks???? What a hypocrite!


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on May 20, 2011, 05:30:15 AM
N0EQ, The only thing I have to say about your post is this.  When you have policemen and or firemen standing over you and asking questions about how the station you're setting up goes together, you'll revise your opinion.  Although I did go a little far in my statement, you would be surprised how many of those people wouldn't begin to know where to look if they had something go wrong with their equipment.

On another point that I missed earlier:

I would consider removing or revising the following statement:

"The negative side is someone in ECom, just to "be where the action is". These people tend to be wanna-be types. That is to say they wanna-be a policeman, or wanna-be a fireman but do not have what it takes to do either of those jobs. People in that group can do the largest favor to Amateur Radio by not participating in ECom."

I would revise it by including the short statement in italics as follows and changing the 'someone' to 'some':

"The negative side is some in ECom, who are not now public safety personnel, join just to "be where the action is".

I would leave that rest of that statement as you have it.  That way, the people who are already policemen, firemen, etc. know they are wanted, yet tells wannabees that they're not.  All too often the volunteers who want to participate ARE nothing but wannabees.  Either they're weeded out from the start, or you're going to have serious problems later on.

Also, I would stress and keep on stressing the volunteer aspect AND the fact that quite a lot of time must be spent on non emergency drills and exercises.  That way, people who do not show up for the drills and exercises can't complain about not being used when they do show up--you've spelled it out that they have to participate in the drills and exercises.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1TCJ on May 20, 2011, 11:03:49 AM

KC8VWM writes:

> I would consider removing or revising the following
> statement:  "The negative side is someone in ECom,
> just to "be where the action is...."

I agree, but for different reasons.  W0IPL describes the purpose of this document in part as follows:

> to tell new people that are interested in Emergency
> Communication... the "why should I" (or shouldn't
> I - as the case may be")

I see this as a recruiting document, and as such it should certainly include the "why should I" content, but IMHO the "why shouldn't I" content is out of place.  Sure, the cop or firefighter wanna-be is a problem, and you probably don't want to recruit him.  But there are several other types you probably don't want to recruit either, such as the inexperienced know-it-all who continually kvetches about accepted procedure because he knows a better way, or the guy who only bathes once a week.

I wouldn't call out the wanna-be in a recruiting document any more than I'd call out the know-it-all or the stinky guy.  Rather, I'd make every effort to write the "why should I" material in such a way that these individuals realize immediately that emcomm's not for them, and I'd eliminate any explicit "why shouldn't I" material altogether -- it might be viewed by some as "we don't want you if" material, and the implied arrogance might alienate some of the folks you *do* want to recruit.






Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K7RBW on May 21, 2011, 08:55:07 AM
I've visited a couple of EmComm and EmComm-type orgs but never stuck around for long. It's not that I don't want to participate, but from my limited experience and from reading several years of comments, the personalities of the orgs tend to cluster around either too-casual-to-do-anything-constructive, various versions of a "good-ole boys" club (i.e. they are government-funded social activities with radios), or in the worst case, borderline-paramillitary.

A few actually take their job seriously and have organized training plans and experience/proficiency requirements, unfortunately I don't live near any of those.

I agree witih TCJ in that you don't need to make a big deal about who/what you DON'T want. Just be crystal clear who/what you DO want.

You DO want regular attendence to the meetings and training activities AND you owe the members organized meetings and training activities with a clear purpose (e.g. to practice what you learned in the organized meetings).

You DO want team players who know when to speak-up and when to listen and do what's asked of them (which comes with training and organization).

You DO want people who act professionally--and if you don't understand what that means, either learn it from someone (mentor/elmer) or find another place to spend your weekends.

But, this requires a lot of the organization's leadership, so it's not always easy.

The org needs a leadership that is involved and interested. Managing vounteers as an additional duty for someone who is overworked will make that difficult.

The org needs some budget to make things happen. Not as much as maintaining a full-time professional staff, but more than $0.00. The volunteers are contributing a lot, the org should at least appear like they have some skin in the game.

The agency leadership needs to show an interest (e.g. some face time from the chief of police, fire, etc.) in the volunteers' activities and progress.

and so on.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0SYA on May 21, 2011, 04:40:09 PM
Hi
If tshtf and you're still alive and your gear made it as well as a source of power, you will be doing ecomms wether you like it or not. That is, untill the zombies arrive.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: AJ4WC on May 23, 2011, 11:20:47 AM
The majority of us also know how to connect and set up equipment.  Most of the officers, firemen and medical personnel don't know a radio RF connector from a vehicle power socket.  

Its not reasoned out when some people say we're not professional 'anything'--in an emergency, some of us are the closest thing to an all-around radio professional there is.

You're doing everyone a dis-service by comparing two unrelated activities.  Officers and Firemen were not hired to work on radios or know an RF connector from a power connector.  Using that logic, a Nurse would not qualified unless s/he can also fix the equipment.  Do you want to be a patient in a hospital where the Nurses all were distracted from their duties while attempting to fix the equipment.  I know I don't...

So while your skills in radio may appear to be an asset when comparing what you know against someone that knows even less - less about that particular subject.  In reality your skills probably pale in comparison to the tech(s) actually hired specifically to work on the radio equipment.    
 



Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on May 23, 2011, 05:51:53 PM
You're doing everyone a dis-service by comparing two unrelated activities.  Officers and Firemen were not hired to work on radios or know an RF connector from a power connector.  Using that logic, a Nurse would not qualified unless s/he can also fix the equipment.  Do you want to be a patient in a hospital where the Nurses all were distracted from their duties while attempting to fix the equipment.  I know I don't...

So while your skills in radio may appear to be an asset when comparing what you know against someone that knows even less - less about that particular subject.  In reality your skills probably pale in comparison to the tech(s) actually hired specifically to work on the radio equipment.

Just how am I comparing two unrelated activities?  By comparing the emergency services personnel to hams?  Please stop reading more into the comments than are there. and stop putting your own spin on things.  In places where ARES personnel and trained and are welcome, you'll find them running shelters, delivering supplies, and even providing assistance to the running of staging areas--BESIDES providing comms for NON-EMERGENCY traffic also.  That relates those activities--as long as the hams keep to what they're supposed to be doing.  Many times the emergency personnel will come and ask for help in setting up equipment.  They KNOW that the hams there are a resource that can be relied on.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: AJ4WC on May 24, 2011, 03:26:41 PM
So the truth is your helping out around the shelter.  Cool... good for you!  


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on May 24, 2011, 07:19:22 PM
You need to specifically define the mission and the skills required before you start recruiting volunteers!  ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0EQ on May 25, 2011, 06:43:22 PM
What a disgusting stance to take.

So you are personally offended because many people don't know about the internals of the equipment that they use? Are you similarly offended because most cops and soldiers don't know how to make a semi-automatic rifle from scratch?...


Most hams don't know how to build a radio from scratch.
Actually, most of the emcomms hams that I've ever met
(perhaps 200-300) don't know how to build a dipole.
Knowing how to push that PTT on their HT to hit the
repeater doesn't exactly make them communications experts.

The disgusting stance is that the OP would suggest that
most public service professionals wouldn't know an RF
connector from a battery connector.

As if it was ever needed.


Sgt Craig Lemke.
Sheriff's 911 PSAP commander


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on May 26, 2011, 02:03:12 AM
Since you work in dispatch, and are a ham, you obviously know much more about how the radios work than the average nurse or fire fighter who only know how to push the PTT. And they're not supposed to know more either - they need to focus on their jobs.

Quote
Knowing how to push that PTT on their HT to hit the repeater doesn't exactly make them communications experts.
There's probably a difference in license class here, because a technician class ham is only supposed to know how to operate legally on the short-range radios, while the extra class hams are supposed to have in-depth knowledge of how a radio works. Then again, maybe some people only cram for the test and then forget about it?

The whole point is that the hams can do the radio stuff that the first responders don't know or have time for, so the first responders can focus on their jobs.

Returning to the rifle example, I don't think most rifle association members can make a rifle either, but at least they have an active interest in shooting, and some of them know how to repair or modify one.

Quote
As if it was ever needed.
Scenario: The garage of the police station floods. Radios have to be temporarily installed in other vehicles so officers can respond to calls.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on May 27, 2011, 05:50:41 AM
Most hams don't know how to build a radio from scratch.
Actually, most of the emcomms hams that I've ever met
(perhaps 200-300) don't know how to build a dipole.
Knowing how to push that PTT on their HT to hit the
repeater doesn't exactly make them communications experts.

The disgusting stance is that the OP would suggest that
most public service professionals wouldn't know an RF
connector from a battery connector.

As if it was ever needed.

Sgt Craig Lemke.
Sheriff's 911 PSAP commander

Mr. Lemke, you now put up that you're a public service official, Sgt. Craig Lemke, yet you have an attitude like you show?  Show that attitude around and let your boss see you puffing out your chest, and see how long you remain in that position!

The FACT remains that most public service people just would not know how to do what ham ops do when they're setting up or taking down their rigs.  Some rigs have connectors that are used for different purposes depending on the rigs themselves.  I've actually seen a situation where a public service official, trying to be helpful, plugged a morse key into a power feed on the back of a HF rig--just because the connectors matched up--and blew the foil tracing off a circuit board!  Luckily, that was the only damage to the rig, and I was able to repair it in the field.

Just because you happen to be both a ham and a public service official, don't come across as indignant about a remark made that is truthful for the majority of the people mentioned!


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on May 27, 2011, 09:10:02 AM
Somebody's jealous!  ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on May 27, 2011, 03:28:57 PM
Have to say that there needs to be three things done to improve EMCOMM.

1.  First!  The EMA people need to once and for all (or at least for a defined period of time) decide whether they want us to help or not.  No joke, just decide and let us know before we start building up gear and go bags, before we take FEMA courses and ARRL courses, before we take Skywarn training every year.  Before we even get into radio, either its going to be part of it, or its not.  If you want us, fine, if not, also fine.

2.  If the answer is yes, then define what role you want us to do and let us know so we can practice and prepare for it.  Saves everyone a lot of time and trouble about licensing and getting set up for skill A, B, and C, only to find out that no one wants you to do A, and you're only going to do B if TSHTF and no one else can do it.  Because you only have so much training time, and you waste it on A and B, you aren't any good at C, then the EMA pros bit*h about how the Hams are useless.  The hams then bit*h that the EMA pros don't know how to use us.

3.  Train at professional levels and frequently enough to maintain skills, and rigorously enough to get good at something.  Refuse tasks that are "powerball ticket-unlikely" events, like an entire city's hospitals needing hams to communicate with each other.  That way, your volunteers don't go out for pointless training and quit in frustration, and you can keep people busy enough to keep them interested.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on May 28, 2011, 06:51:54 AM
In short; you need to specifically define the mission and skills required before you start recruiting volunteers!  ;)
I already said that!  ;D


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W4WNT on May 29, 2011, 06:00:19 AM
Very well written piece.  I've heard it called EmComm, but that may be a regional thing.  In the paragraph below:

"Some may ask why so much emphasis on ICS. The answer is simple. ALL entities receiving federal dollars (virtually every police, fire, etc.) must have implemented the Incident Command System by 2005 to continue receiving federal dollars. This also includes all of their volunteers (us)."

I'd suggest taking out the "by 2005" reference. In 2011, that makes the page look outdated.

You might also consider that emergency communications in places like Joplin, MO, after the tornado would likely be done by folks who come in from somewhere else and set up mobile/portable operations as there is likely not much left of any communications that were originally there. 



Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: WY3X on May 30, 2011, 03:01:28 PM
Stick a fork in me, I'm SO done with "emcomm"!!! It seems like these "positions" attract all the Barney Fife wanna-bes, and don't you DARE tell them they have an idea that isn't going to be combined with the local action plan! You'll hurt their feelings, and, them being volunteers, you'll lose 'em. If something I can't say on here meets the rotating fan blade, you're going to need every able bodied person you can get your hands on, REGARDLESS of what skills they bring to the table! EVEN THE BARNEY FIFES!

Also, you need to clarify that although volunteers can "act in a professional manner", they can *NEVER* be a "professional emergency communicator" because the word "professional" means that they ARE PAID for what they are doing. Remember what the FCC rules say about "pecuniary interest"? Being a professional ALSO doesn't mean someone knows what they are doing. I've had plenty of officers above me full of book knowledge but without practical experience who could not deal with a live situation. You learn what you can, and implement the good while striving to steer clear of the bad.

Classes are good for beginners, but for someone who made public service their life's work, it's repetitive and boring, and you should find something else for them to do. Being retired from public safety, I would NEVER consider sitting through another ICS class! Ain't gonna do it, not for all the tea in China! YAWN-SNORE! Call me when/if you need me, and I'll get you out of the jam you're in. Yes, I have enough confidence in my skills that I can say that. Leave me alone when it comes time for classes! And always remember: Those who can't do, TEACH!

There are two skills you need to "make it" as a newb in the amateur emcomm world.

1. The ability to kiss butt and enjoy doing it.
2. The ability to perform a task when asked, and do it correctly the first time.

Everything else is purely academic.

73, -WY3X


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on May 31, 2011, 05:59:07 AM
The most important rule is show up! Otherwise, the other two rules that WY3X just listed are "academic."  ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0SYA on May 31, 2011, 08:59:06 AM
Another question seldom raised is whom are you going to serve in ecomms? The citizens or some political entity? They are sometimes at odds as far as agendas in a crisis go.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on May 31, 2011, 06:07:15 PM
That is why you have to first define the mission!  ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on June 01, 2011, 10:48:36 AM
The most important rule is show up! Otherwise, the other two rules that WY3X just listed are "academic."  ;)

No.  The most important rule is to have some idea what you are going to do once you show up.  Showing up and being ill-prepared or unprepared means you are a burden to others.

As above, I think a lot of us are "so done with emcomm".   I have been nearly run off roads or arrested for doing a job that the EMA sent me to do, but didn't bother to tell area patrol officers about one time too many.   I have watched cops and other EMA "professionals" sit around the red cross/salvation army canteen and eat fried chicken while we were out working and not allowed to bring our vehicles with us (so no water or back up batteries for us) one time too many.

I think that I am going to entertain myself with my radio and leave the CW uberalles, the emcomms, the QRPers to their own pursuits.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on June 01, 2011, 11:05:55 AM
Classes are good for beginners, but for someone who made public service their life's work, it's repetitive and boring, and you should find something else for them to do.

Well, there's the issue of changing organizations and procedures. If I showed up to a disaster with the knowledge which was considered correct 10 years ago, I'd be showing up miles away from the correct staging area. I'd also be treating patients less effectively (especially arterial bleeding cases). This is why classes and drills have to be updated and refreshed - and why those who haven't trained in a while have to be de-rated or deleted from the call-up roster.

If you're sick of it, you've probably earned the right to take a break from that stuff, but you should then be prepared to learn from those who have more current training if you do get called out.

At least that's how it is over here - your situation might be different of course.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K7RBW on June 01, 2011, 11:28:18 AM
The most important rule is show up! Otherwise, the other two rules that WY3X just listed are "academic."  ;)

No.  The most important rule is to have some idea what you are going to do once you show up.  Showing up and being ill-prepared or unprepared means you are a burden to others.

It seems like that to effectively use a voluteer work force requires some effort on both sides (i.e. paid professional and non-paid volunteer). To be effective, you'd have to train and practice side-by-side (frequently).That's a big commitment for all involved.

I'm curious how often the orgs trained and practiced together in the many of the stories where the  volunteers complain about not being used or used effectivey and where the professionals complained about working with incompetent or unmotivated volunteers.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 01, 2011, 01:57:49 PM
"No, the most important rule is to have some idea what you are going to do once you show up."

You need to go back and and read all of my posts so that you will understand the simple process that I gave. First you have to define the mission and skills required, which is a role of the organizer, not the volunteer.  ;)

The volunteer's most important rule is to show up.  ;D

This confusion of organizational principles and responsibilities is why volunteer service is so frustrating for both the organizer and the volunteer. Maybe they should give out cards to both listing these simple directions.  ::) 


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on June 01, 2011, 03:02:44 PM
You need to go back and and read all of my posts so that you will understand the simple process that I gave. First you have to define the mission and skills required, which is a role of the organizer, not the volunteer. 

The volunteer's most important rule is to show up

This confusion of organizational principles and responsibilities is why volunteer service is so frustrating for both the organizer and the volunteer. Maybe they should give out cards to both listing these simple directions. 

I get your point.  I just disagree.





Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 01, 2011, 04:15:24 PM
That's Ok. So did Bill Clinton! Some people just can't admit when they are wrong. ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: AI8P on June 03, 2011, 09:50:05 AM
 I imagine there are some people in Tuscaloosa who were "done with EmComm"  who got involved again recently and wished they had stayed current.

 I imagine there are some people in Joplin who were "done with EmComm"  who got involved again recently and wished they had stayed current.

 I imagine there are some people in Maryland who were "done with EmComm"  who got involved again recently and wished they had stayed current.

You are "done with EmComm" until a disaster strikes you and yours.    A little preparation beforehand will go a long way at that time.

Your mileage may vary,

Dennis AI8P


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 03, 2011, 06:03:08 PM
Well said! An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of rescue!  ;D


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K7RBW on June 03, 2011, 09:36:11 PM
You are "done with EmComm" until a disaster strikes you and yours.    A little preparation beforehand will go a long way at that time.

I don't see what those two sentences have to do with each other.

  • People can be prepared and not be Hams.
  • People can be prepared and have nothing to do with "EmComm" (or any comm for that matter). In fact, you could argue that the more prepared they are, the less they need to worry about comms.
  • People can be Hams and not prepared.
  • People can be in EmComm and not prepared (just follow this thread back a ways to see examples of that).

AI8P's post seems to imply that unless you're involved with EmComm, you'll be sorry should disaster hit. I don't see the relationship. If a disaster hits, I'll be sorry regardless. Hopefully not for myself, but certainly for all those who meet with tragedy.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on June 04, 2011, 06:58:57 AM
I agree with you, Bob.  Dennis seems to think that if you're not current in emcomm, you won't be able to do much with ham radio should disaster strike.  Untrue.  If all a ham operator wants to do is to report incidents or observations on current conditions, any net will take that report if the ham calls in and waits to be acknowledged.  You don't have to be current in the emcomm area to tell people what's happening around you--you just have to be and keep current if you want to participate in the emcomm group itself.

That, I think, is where the ARRL is missing the boat.  They seem to insist that, to participate in ANY form, you have to involve yourselves and keep current in all phases of emcomms.  And I think that is why the emcomms debacle raises so much ire among ham operators in itself.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 04, 2011, 08:40:12 AM
Organized preparation in advance of the disaster answers the question, what do we do next? If you lived in a frequent hurricane disaster zone, you would know that!  ;)


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K7RBW on June 04, 2011, 09:16:17 AM
If all a ham operator wants to do is to report incidents or observations on current conditions, any net will take that report if the ham calls in and waits to be acknowledged.

While perhaps not as close to the spotlight as some might like, THIS is the unique benefit that a dispersed group of people who can communicate over some distance can provide. It baffles me as to why this seems to go unnoticed by seemingly everyone.

When people mention "ham radio" and EmComm, the first image that seems to come to mind is a bunch of people with their reflective vests and handhelds all hovering around the EOC (or worse) the disaster site. This is what the ARRL seems to promote in their photos and also the image that makes the professionals cringe.

In a disaster or emergency, one of the biggest needs is to know what's damaged, who's injured, and what's available so that the scarce resources can be allocated and assigned most effectively. Yet, in an emergency, it seems like all the Ham volunteers must report to the center. This may be challenging in a disaster (due to impassable roads or other obstacles). Having everyone report in physically might make sense from a command and control perspective (so you know who's available, volunteer or otherwise and be able to deploy them where needed) and there'll always be a need for these "1st tier" volunteers.

But, if there are already Hams sprinkled around the community, the "2nd tier" of volunteers (which doesn't mean "2nd class," by the way) could just stay put and radio in their status. It would be especially valuable to know that everyone in a neighborhood is fine and they don't need immediate assistance, or someone is hurt and needs immediate assistance. At a minimum, these volunteers would need a working radio and knowledge of the net frequencies. Even better, they would have some first aid training.

I've seen information about community programs like this, CERT, for example, and another paper on using FRS ch. 1 as a neighborhood emergency net frequency. But, what I've not seen is these "non Ham" solutions promoted in the Ham EmComm volunteer literature. To me the biggest value Ham radio operators could provide to EmComm scenarios would be to act as the neighborhood net control for the FRS net and report in over the Ham net. That is a low to no-[marginal] cost option for the Hams (they most likely have all the gear they need) and it would provide great PR for amateur radio by showing ongoing positive involvement in the community.

What amazes me is that the Ham volunteer solutions seem to rely on JUST Ham radio options. Nowadays, the "Cell phones?! We don't need no stinkin' cell phones!" attitude is just ignorant. ANY communications plan (even Ham radio comm plans) should include a diversity of communications options, of which Ham radio is but one. There's cell-phone voice, cell-phone text, multi-media messaging (photos), Simplex Ham, FRS/GMRS, Ham Packet, Internet, Simplex commercial/business, Trunked, and on and on. An effective emergency plan is NOT going to rely on any single mode and should be designed to use as many as exist while also working on what few might be in operation.

I think the Ham community loses a lot of credibility when they are asked "what about cell phones or e-mail" and say they don't need any of that. Instead they should say, we use whatever works best to get the job done. Streaming video to YouTube? If it works we'll use it! We'll make sure the message gets through. If we can't send video, we'll send photos by message. If text messages don't work, or there's no cell coverage, we have VHF/UHF simplex Ham, if that doesn't work, we have HF, etc. Saying they have a plan to use whatever works sounds much more pragmatic (and customer focused) than saying we be here if you need us after everything else craps out (e.g. the "When all else fails..." message) Who would want to count on that attitude

I realize the comments in this thread have veered towards the negative, but I'd love to hear about places that have success stories. If anyone has an integrated comm plan that includes all manner of communication media, I'd love to hear how that works or doesn't work (I could be all wet on this). Either way, I'm curious.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0SYA on June 04, 2011, 12:53:07 PM
A song about emergency communications:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIm14Jk12nI&feature=watch_response


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 04, 2011, 01:09:05 PM
What our local ham club did was to map the location of all participating members, along with a list of their communications capabilities (bands), and provided it to Emergency Management. If there is a disaster, we report the conditions and needs of our own neighborhoods. It is an excellent program!  ;D


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0EQ on June 05, 2011, 02:43:46 PM
Recapping/Combining some of the more humorous posts,
I hope nothing is lost in my paraphrasing -

"Mr Police Chief/Sheriff/Fire Chief, your public servants are not smart enough to
know how to plug an antenna into an antenna connector, and a power connector
into a power connector. So we've formed a local club of people who know how
to plug that stuff in. So in case it ever floods in the police garage, you can
call us and we'll come over and remove the radios from your units and install
them in your POVs (or ours). And by the way, would it be alright if we were
allowed to run code 3 to get there?"
 
Pretty funny. Pretty tragic.

Does anyone really wonder why emcomm'ers, hams in general,
are laughed at by non-hams, esp pub service officials? Those
police chiefs aren't "asking" you to train and become part of the
system, they're "tolerating" you because 1) they'd rather have you
ON the side of the good guys than the bad guys - and - 2) They'd
like to have your vote.


Disasters? I have NEVER seen one where the cellphone companies
didn't have a COW (Cellular On Wheels) on scene within hours.


Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke

www.n0eq.com


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on June 05, 2011, 04:37:07 PM
Does anyone really wonder why emcomm'ers, hams in general,
are laughed at by non-hams, esp pub service officials?
http://i.imgur.com/bPP2h.jpg (http://i.imgur.com/bPP2h.jpg)
http://i.imgur.com/CUfdL.jpg (http://i.imgur.com/CUfdL.jpg)
Apropos of that, any reactions when driving around in your camo painted car and using your army green-painted radios? Is it the faux army car owners vs. the faux police car owners?

Apart from on amateur radio forums, I hear nothing but positive remarks about amateur radio helping out.
Disasters? I have NEVER seen one where the cellphone companies
didn't have a COW (Cellular On Wheels) on scene within hours.
Then what happens in the hours and days before that can be fully set up? Just make do without communications?


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: N0EQ on June 05, 2011, 06:12:14 PM
Apropos of that, any reactions when driving around in your camo painted car and using your army green-painted radios? Is it the faux army car owners vs. the faux police car owners?

Let's see...I have a camo painted hunting van. For some twisted reason that makes it appropriate for emcomm'rs to insultingly suggest that cops, the group that they try so hard to matriculate into, are idiots.

A couple of the theories presented in this thread just continue to prove my points over and over.

Carry on, HT warriors.


Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke

www.n0eq.com


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 05, 2011, 10:03:32 PM
I have known some pretty dumb Police Chiefs in my life!

One was arrested for forging a pain killer prescription by putting a "1" in front of his prescription for "10" capsules. It was his second drug related incident. ::)

Another, after being arrested in Dallas for perjury, returned to Florida and became Chief of his former department again, only to be fired for making "monkey" jokes in read off. They gave him a job at the Police Academy and he was caught naked with the Academy Secretary on her desk.  ::)

Another one was discovered to have a shotgun stolen from the department hidden behind drywall in his garage. He was the smartest. He died before they found the gun.  ::)

Many of these clowns get their jobs because the City Council is assured they and their families won't be arrested while he or she is in charge. What good do you think they would be making decisions in an emergency of any type?  :o


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on June 06, 2011, 02:42:17 AM
Let's see...I have a camo painted hunting van.
You sure do. The camo makes sense if you stalk and shoot wildlife in it. Do you? Or is it only for camping? Still doesn't explain why you painted your radios army green though.

I wouldn't usually make an issue of it (modding and decorating your stuff is cool enough) but stones in glass houses, man. What does it look like to the public? As you said:
Does anyone really wonder why emcomm'ers, hams in general,
are laughed at by non-hams, esp pub service officials?

For some twisted reason that makes it appropriate for emcomm'rs to insultingly suggest that cops, the group that they try so hard to matriculate into, are idiots.
No you see, in a police operation hams are more like janitors, electricians or volunteer mountain climbers. You don't become a cop by being a ham or a janitor at the police station.
A cop isn't an idiot just because he hasn't been trained in how to install and tune an HF radio, install a fuse box, or knowing if a Grigri is appropriate to use on a particular belay. Modern society is based on specialization. A Nobel prize winner in a hurry could easily have make the mistake of inserting the power leads into the balanced antenna input of some radio and destroying the finals. I'm sure the result would be even more disastrous if you put an unfit ham to work climbing mountains, or let a non-trained mountain climber run around investigating crimes on flat terrain.

Disaster management involves many different specializations working together, hopefully in roles that have been well exercised in advance. It involves government agencies, volunteer organizations, utility companies, and the private sector in general. It doesn't work if each and every group throws a fit if somebody mentions the obvious fact that they have different skills and responsibilities.
A couple of the theories presented in this thread just continue to prove my points over and over.
Your stated points were that public officials only include hams to keep them out of the way and get votes, and that the only type of emergency communications ever needed are back-up cell towers. Haven't seen any proof of any of that from you. On the other hand the stories of public safety officials and volunteer organizations praising amateur radio for helping in particular cases are all over the place if you bother searching for them.

Meanwhile KI4SDY is talking to himself.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on June 06, 2011, 05:35:46 AM
Let's see...I have a camo painted hunting van. For some twisted reason that makes it appropriate for emcomm'rs to insultingly suggest that cops, the group that they try so hard to matriculate into, are idiots.

Seems to me that such a van would be more of a nuisance and a possible safety hazard than a help when hunting.  Suppose someone couldn't see it clearly and put a deer slug through it?  And through the driver at the same time.

A potential Darwin Award winner if I ever heard one!

And I bet that you STILL have your radio equipment in it too!


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KI4SDY on June 06, 2011, 06:21:04 AM
Chief of Police incompetence is still running rampant today! The lady Police Chief of our nearby large city left her badge and gun in an unlocked car in her front yard overnight and they were stolen. Her officers keep getting caught beating up the public for no reason in front of cameras her department had installed all over town. Recently she announced her "retirement" after only a few years in office. A good thing for the public!  ;D

Also, for those of you that look up in awe of these people as "professionals," check out the online stories about the Windemere, FL Police Chief. There is just too much insane nonsense on his part to list here. He is currently out of jail for his corrupt antics, but will soon return to the slammer!  ;)

The main problem is that the current crop of "professionals" look upon their positions as just a job, rather than an opportunity to actually serve the public. At least volunteer hams have the right attitude, which is a good place to start!  :)
  


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KF7CG on June 06, 2011, 10:35:50 AM
All Amateurs should be willing, able, and trained to communicate in a emergency.

This does not mean that they should be part of the organized emcom group. Just trained enough to deliver emergency messages when required. Some have the talent and personality to be a regular communications auxilliary officer. They are needed some of the time also.

When you are the first on the scene of a problem and the cellphones (or your cellphone) is down, the is the time for Amateur Emergency Communications. It can happen on a back road in the country on a beautiful day, Be Prepared. Report the problem, you have just done emergency communications.

Too many here are letting, words, vocations, and avocations get in the way of the basic premise, which is to be prepared to provide communications when the need is present. I would and and the wisdom to know when it is needed but wisdom is something I will not claim.

KF7CG


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on July 28, 2011, 05:25:44 AM
....Also, you need to clarify that although volunteers can "act in a professional manner", they can *NEVER* be a "professional emergency communicator" because the word "professional" means that they ARE PAID for what they are doing....

That is only one definition of the word professional.  There are others, such as this:

1.  Following a line of conduct as though it were a profession. <a professional patriot>

The reasoning that professionals are PAID is usually correct, but there are those who are NOT.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: AE6ZW on September 11, 2011, 04:45:39 AM
I afraid, in event of emergency, I myself is in need of help, I am not sure, if I can able to offer help to others while I my self need help.   if telephone does not work, I am not sure if 911 operating desk will be listening in HAM frequency , and which channel they are listening.   we ham probably something similar to CH 9 of CB band.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on September 11, 2011, 06:00:21 AM
I afraid, in event of emergency, I myself is in need of help, I am not sure, if I can able to offer help to others while I my self need help.   if telephone does not work, I am not sure if 911 operating desk will be listening in HAM frequency , and which channel they are listening.
You can find out ahead of time if there are ARES or RACES groups, and what nets would be activated in your area. Even if there are none, you could just get in touch with a radio operator outside the affected area who can relay your message via the phone or services like the Red Cross missing and welfare system.

In case of disasters where many of the local hams would be affected themselves, it's good to have established assistance between neighboring counties, so they can travel into the affected area and relieve the local operators in case of a long term outage.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: KC0SHZ on September 14, 2011, 11:44:31 AM
Just being able to get out onto the SATERN/SAROF net on 14.265 every morning at 10am CST, would be helpful in helping your friends and neighbors.

Having some ability to run on batteries means you learn about batteries beyond the one in your car and the ones in your flashlight.  This knowledge can be helpful in an emergency.  We have solar yard lights.  I think I will charge those boys up and bring them into my neighbor's houses at night so they can have a little light.  It will make things nicer in the event of another big power failure.

Got a generator?  Figure out how to use it to keep your family secured and still help a neighbor with a new baby keep their formula safe.

You make a mistake trying to be hardcore.  What will be needed is people who are willing to help people on a local level and have the skills to do so. 

A ham license is a federal license to screw around in your garage.  That time spent building an antenna, or figuring out how to run a solar panel to charge your deep cycle batteries is like going to emergency school.  Just keep going to "school" and when an emergency hits, you will be able to help just fine.




Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on September 17, 2011, 12:13:21 PM
You can find out ahead of time if there are ARES or RACES groups, and what nets would be activated in your area. Even if there are none, you could just get in touch with a radio operator outside the affected area who can relay your message via the phone or services like the Red Cross missing and welfare system....

Although it is a good idea to do that, usually the busiest, most accessible repeater (the one that is an area wide repeater versus the one that is local only) will usually host the area net. 

On the other hand, using the internet to find out when area ham clubs hold nets can help too--and most of the time that can be done at the outset of any sort of emergency.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: K1CJS on September 17, 2011, 12:15:23 PM
At least KI4SDY stopped talking to himself.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: LA9XSA on September 19, 2011, 01:01:40 PM
A ham license is a federal license to screw around in your garage.  That time spent building an antenna, or figuring out how to run a solar panel to charge your deep cycle batteries is like going to emergency school.  Just keep going to "school" and when an emergency hits, you will be able to help just fine.
Experience, know-how and improvisation is definitely what makes amateurs an asset in an emergency, but some formal training and a pre-established relationship to emergency agencies or NGOs are also recommended to make use of that effectively and efficiently in an emergency. You need to know how you fit into the organized chaos.
Although it is a good idea to do that, usually the busiest, most accessible repeater (the one that is an area wide repeater versus the one that is local only) will usually host the area net. 
Thank you for pointing that out. Some repeaters have emergency power, and even those that don't have that might be useful if the type of emergency is a technical one which takes out the phone and internet communications while not affecting power.


Title: RE: Should I be in ECom?
Post by: W2KYM on September 20, 2011, 08:44:48 AM
Do not depend on repeaters!!!
They can be easily taken out of service and/or can fail!!
D-STAR is nice as is ECHOLINK, but they also can be taken down and/or fail and not everyone has D-STAR.
A simple analog SIMPLEX network is the way to do it. Sorry gang, hand helds just don't cut it (unless you have a crossband plan).
Make yourself that 50W go-kit with about 30' of poles and a good J-Pole antenna fed with minimum RG-8 (LMR400 being optimal).

 :)