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Author Topic: Do you have ....  (Read 2921 times)

Posts: 410


« on: December 01, 2006, 10:43:35 AM »

Do you actually have a communications plan?

Most groups have a list of the repeaters in their area, the frequency (ies)
they would like to use on HF and a list of modes they think they may use.
Many of those same groups have not tested every facet of their "plan" in
the last year and a few, not in the last five years.
What have you done to verify your plan?
(We really don't need everyone's complete details - just the "unusual"

It is almost comical to watch some of the local groups go out on an
exercise and suddenly find that something doesn't work as anticipated.
I guess that's why we have exercises. Not just to do something
"meaningful" for a few individuals but rather to assure each of our
participants is comfortable with each of the many assignments possible.

Does that imply that every person must be fully capable in every assignment?
No, would be an understatement. There are many people that "decline the
opportunity" in several assignments and that is not a problem. What is a
problem is where someone is "trained" and yet cannot handle voice, packet,
ATV or anything else. Each person (not including new people here) needs
to have usable skills in at least two areas. That should be part of your plan.

One local group was very happy when, two hours into their exercise, they
finally got Packet to work. And this from the group that had their primary
served agency plead - for three consecutive years - for better voice and
Packet capabilities. - - Sigh. I guess we can see why the served agency is
not happy.

Let's face it, one of the primary skills we as amateurs bring to the
table is the ability to adapt to changing needs. That should be the
exception rather than the norm. When building skills is part of our
communications plan, what would be exceptions otherwise, become part of
the norm because we have done them so many times before.

Does your plan include the repeater frequencies? Most do, but do your people
know those frequencies without having to read the list and then program their
radios? "Education is the demonstrated change in behavior. Just stating
what should be done does not constitute effective training." That from a local
person's input to an After Action report.

Posts: 1045


« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2006, 11:44:04 AM »


Great topic. Yes we have one, and offer it as a training example.  See the URL

This is based on ICS form with the template already filled out, and net functions of the various repeaters and simplex frequencies are already identified.  The template also includes FRS channel allocations for interoperability purposes with CERT and Neighborhood Watch.

Posts: 410


« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2006, 03:36:41 PM »


That sounds great but how often do you fully test it?

The problem that I see around here is that those tend to be nothing but numbers in a file. How often are they fully tested?

Posts: 1003

« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006, 04:09:29 PM »

Ours is at:

Happy Holidaze!


Posts: 410


« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2006, 09:03:25 PM »

Nice doc's Ronnie but when was it last - fully - tested?

A two hour SET is not enough to fully test it.

Posts: 1003

« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2006, 05:59:09 AM »

SET, that's funny, that is a contest
like FD.  But we go for it full bore
though and NC Section usually ends up
on top(or nearly so) of the heap!

We regularly use it in drills with the NRC,
EM, etc. Also, in Tropical Storms/Hurricanes
(lucky this year only two and not a whole
heap of flooding with those, unless
YOU got flooded), tornadoes (8 KIAs
in one a couple weeks or so ago),
ice storms and so on.

So you get the idea, it is often used and
modified with lessons learned.

Happy Holidaze!

OES, Area 7


Posts: 2

« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006, 09:53:02 AM »

I really liked the Wake County website.

The new requirement for FEMA courses 100, 200, 700 & 800 was mentioned and the comment that it was mandatory and NOT A SUBJECT FOR  NEGOTIATION, CONSIDERATION, OR  COMMENTARY was great.

Here in Michigan, the 4 yr old RACES cards are up for renewal and people are popping up and wondering why they need these new FEMA courses.  Since we have been pushing this since last March, we know that the complainers aren't active or care enough since they are just hearing about it.  Now they are complaining, bitching and threatening lawsuits if they don't get their new RACES card.  

These are the types we don't want...the ones that say they'll be there when needed, but refuse to train or participate in drills or exercises.  They are to same ones who feel taking a Skywarn class in 1997 was good enough for them and they can't undertsand the local requirement of re-training once every 2 years.

Hats off to Wake Co's website.

AEC, Training
Wayne Co (Detroit) ARES/RACES Michigan

Posts: 99


« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2006, 01:19:22 PM »

Tennessee's plan is at

(And I didn't have anything to do with it...)

Scott NA4IT

Posts: 1045


« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2006, 07:04:13 AM »

The comm plan template is used for all callouts and exercises, either planned or spontaneous.  Once monthly a simplex communication test is conducted and the working frequency is distributed only by using the alpha designators stated on the plan.  Members undergo equipment inspection as part of their annual certification. For each callout or exercise members check each other using either the local deployment or EMAC checklist, as required by the event to ensure among other items that:

"Operator shall demonstrate that the radio is programmed to the RACES Communication Plan as a minimum."

Posts: 28


« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2006, 12:52:19 PM »

At the state level I have a comm plan which identifies who's responsible for what.  In Maricopa County we have discussed a comm plan, but let me share with you my thoughts.

Maricopa County where I live is bigger than 7 US states, bigger than 3 of them combined and the entire country of Monaco.....

Should a disaster hit Maricopa County, it's likely that the Hams on the "other" side of the county will be the ones providing aid (and yes, it's possible it will be a county wide emergency).  We support 26 hospitals, and another 10 urgent care centers.  We have in Maricopa County 100 "Points of Distribution" or PODs.  In short just in Maricopa County we could just about overwhelm all the state resources.

How can you create a comm plan for an area which is so large and has so many possible response points?  The document would be huge, and by it's very size, it would be relegated to the shelf to never be opened.

In Maricopa County we practice on a routine basis exercises to assist us in the event of a disaster.  We do so on the repeaters which will likely be used to marshal resources for the incident.  For example, we use two linked repeaters to run our net.  One of our net exercises was to "kill" the repeaters (yes we had someone standing by to bring them up if a real emergency occurred).  By it's very nature, the net went into "simplex" operation on the output of one of the repeaters.  Operators practiced passing traffic around the net, a net that covered an area about the size of Vermont! (I wonder how many statewide simplex nets they have?) Needless to say, many relays were required.

So the reason I shared the above story is that a rigid comm plan wouldn't work in our area.  Rather I believe the comm plan should fit on the back of a business card.

Step 1.  When called by the EOC - Call the rest of the EOC Gang (they know who they are)

Step 2.  Get a local resource net online ASAP.  Use the resource repeaters.

Step 3.  Call the SEC (me) and let him know the rough scope of the incident (I might need to find resources)

Step 4.  Provide services as needed.

Step 5.  Secure when directed.

We all have repeater directories, and I would hope that we all know how to program a repeater in to our rigs.  For those who haven't done so in a long time, PUT YOUR MANAUAL with your radio!  Do we really want to have a document that lists every possible scenario or does it make sense to craft a comm plan when you have enough facts to do so intelligently?

I am sure there are a lot of folks who will take exception to the ideas listed above, but I submit that it's possible to leverage the KNOWLEDGE of the net in real time when needed.

Rick Aldom - W7STS
Section Emergency Coordinator - Arizona

Posts: 1

« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2007, 06:30:39 PM »

I just recently got caught in the "dark" about how to operate my radio.  Having just put my D700A into service about three weeks ago, I thought I had managed to tackle every aspect of operating that radio, I even got APRS to work, and took it portable/mobile to the recent marathon and operated as the radio operator in the "SAG Wagon" (picking up runners who could not continue, but were not in need of immediate medical attention).  

My involvement at the local hospital as the only radio operator (at present) included a new task.  I was to operate the radio weekly for a "comm check".  Well, when asked to go to a simplex frequency, I could not get the radio programmed to that particular frequency.  I even had the manual out and attempted to switch.  

As radios get more complicated, we must become more able to "program" them.  After several attempts to get to that frequency, I gave up.  The high tech radio beat me.  I will not stop in my quest to program that frequency, then put the steps to change frequencies in print and post them above the radio for further reference.  I noticed that the members of a local club have done this in the club station.  It sure helps if you haven't operated a particular radio in a while, and will help in the future.

WE ALL NEED TO GO BACK TO THE BASICS.  I was tempted to replace that radio with a simpler version, but know that the replacement could not perform the complicated service that it was purchased to do, namely "internet over radio", my next hurdle.
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