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  • Jim, K8COP
    May 1, 2007
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                         Dedicated to Emergency Communications by RADIO
              EMCOMM  MONTHLY   
                             Official Journal of the World Radio Relay League
                                 Where Every Month is "Preparedness Month"
      VOL.  3 -- No. 12          ONLINE: www.emcomm.org/em/                    MAY  2007
      SHORT CIRCUITS - Brief Items
      The EM ADVISOR - "Q and A"
      ICS PERSPECTIVES - by Jerry Boyd, N7WR
      WRRL NEWS and NETS
       HANDLING - How to Write TEST Messages
      NETWORK NEWS - "N.E.T.S."
      EMCOMM WORKSHOP - "Safety First"

      QSH - Quiz, Satire, and Humor
      FEATURE SECTION - Chronicles of NoCanDoo - Episode VIII

      EMCOMM SPECIALTY ITEMS - Stuff for Sale
      "As long as emcomm organizations support the notion that it is an effective utilization of the Amateur resource for individual agencies to recruit their own cadre of amateur emcomm operators, (who are often untrained, inexperienced and undisciplined traffic handlers), and attempt to set-up and operate their own networks, Amateur Radio emcomm will continue to wallow in confusion, and our mission of service to the public will only be mediocre at best.

      "In large-scale incidents, deploying strategically placed emcomm stations capable of handing message traffic, whether it be tactical or formal, whether it be EMERGENCY, PRIORITY, WELFARE or ROUTINE, no matter what agency or who it is for, is the only way that we will ever provide effective communicators!  It makes no difference if the originating station is a no-code tech with an HT in a shelter, or a full service station (Type I ARCT).

      "The NIMS (ICS) mentions only communications--not 10 different communication units, systems, and/or 'agency specific' nets.  I say again: 'A message is a message is a message.'  Sadly, I have heard little mention of the NIMS/ICS at any level in this operation (Katrina), or in any of the interviews in all the TV news programs that I have watched.  September 11, 2001 was a wake up call.  Then Katrina called.  It is too late now for this incident (Katrina).  If we all hit the snooze button again on this one...we might as well all become mere 'hobby hams' ". -- D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ -- (Posted on SEC Reflector 9/11/05)

      Thanks to all of our readers who offered suggestions to resolve the problem of "SPAM filters" that have been blocking EMCOMM MONTHLY, whether inbound or outbound.  Our computer "gurus" are considering different options.  Here is one solution to the problem from our webmaster, Bill Frazier W7ARC:

      "Advise our readers to put @..., @..., and @... on their "Whitelist".  This is the list of addresses that allows recipients to select who can send email to them and bypassing any "SPAMGUARDS".  Those who may
      not know what their "Whitelist" is should contact their ISP."

      Daily (except Saturdays) at: 0130Z on 3587 kHz mark (+/- QRM)

      Saturday, June 9, 2007 - www.midatlantem.com
      Sponsored by Snyder County (PA) ARES® - Comments and questions: info@...
      (Submitted by Gordon Lamb, AB3AX)

      "Once again greetings to all.  At our monthly Hamnet radio meet, we always discuss one of the articles that have appeared in EMCOMM MONTHLY.  Sometimes very lively the discussion, but always very informative info in the newsletter.  -- Glenham Duffy, ZS5GD, WRRL 30, New Germany, Kwalzulu Natal, South Africa.

      COMMENT - Thanks Glenham.  There are probably more than a few of us who would like to visit South Africa and include a visit to one of your meetings.  Oh yes, your WRRL patch and lapel pins are on their way. - Editor.
      "I received the April issue of EM and greatly enjoyed it.  I am new at this and trying to get all the information I can to become the best operator I can in all situations. I know that sometimes things will pop up on you like the tornadoes we had here last week, but knowledge, practice,  and consistency will bring you through.  Thank you very much, and I look forward to the next issue." - Chris Nunley, KI4UHK, Tazewell, TN

      "Thank you for the very informative newsletter.  Our small group of healthcare providers/emcomm volunteers appreciate the insights and guidance you provide."
      - Peter Shiffman, RN, KC2OUF, Nurse Administrator South Beach Psychiatric Center, Staten Island, NY

        Thanks Peter.  I spent four years in a Psychiatric Hospital.  (I was a charge nurse and later a house supervisor.)   It was in "the seventies" and some people said the only way you could tell the staff from the patients was that the staff wore name badges! - Editor
      "I hope you can stomach one more comment about ICS-213.  I agree that it is for written, inter-office communications.  Mostly hand carried.  It is poorly designed for radio communications.  It gives no information about the continuity of flow which is VERY IMPORTANT for our (emcomm) use. I wish some of the EOC's (state and other) would wake up and get real.  Too many hams are busy trying to be like the FEDS, STATES and COPS that we are destroying the very thing that makes us valuable and unique!  Keep up the good fight.  Somebody has to keep the faith." - Eric Gordon,  KØOHU, Arvada, CO
      "I would like to know if you could list the Midwest RTTY Traffic Net. The net is at 2030 EST Sunday through Friday on a mark frequency of 3.587 MHz (+/- QRM).  All are welcome.  The net has been in operation for over 20 years and is the nation's only RTTY traffic net. Standard RADIOGRAM formatting is used. If your readers have any other questions contact me at:  

      "I have an idea for an article for EMCOMM MONTHLY
      , discussing the pros and cons of different modes for traffic handling. I would say the speed and accuracy of characters transmitted in CW, vs. RTTY which is able to put many messages into hard copy vs. the speed a skilled voice operator, but with a wider bandwidth and with decreased immunity to noise and interference." - Dave Edenfield, W8RIT, Cottrellville TWP, MI

      COMMENTS:  The announcement has been made (see SHORT CIRCUITS above), and it has been added to our REGIONAL EMCOMM NETS LIST.

      RTTY, other keyboard modes, CW, 'phone, and even ATV all have some role in emcomm.  Various modes have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.  However, for emergency and auxiliary work, no mode should rely upon the internet or other commercial landline circuits.  Emcomm must be 100% RADIO PTP (point-to-point) -- that is if it is to be 100% reliable.

      Ed Trump, AL7N, EM Traffic Editor says:  "In this day and age, 'RTTY' almost always implies that computers are involved since mechanical page printers and punched tape machines are pretty much relics out of the past.  Also somebody still has to keyboard the message (accurately) at some point.  The use of computers is a potential 'Achilles heel' in any traffic handling operation.  It's OK and fine, as long as all is well and everything is 'normal'.  But when the computer(s) quit or are damaged, or if you lose adequate power to run things, you are reduced back to 'stone age CW' or voice modes.  CW is (or should be) the more preferred mode due to it's character-by-character nature of transmission, and total lack of the problems that exist with interpreting a spoken language when the voice circuit is less than perfect.  (And sometimes even when it IS perfect!)  In spite of what a lot of people think today, there are NO accuracy problems with CW traffic work when experienced and properly trained operators work the circuit(s).  Accuracy problems just don't happen if everybody follows the rules and uses 'fills' and the message 'check' properly.  Having enough experienced and properly trained operators is the biggest problem we need to overcome, so there are people available who can do the job when things go from normal to bad to worse."

      Digital emcomm operators are fewer in number that Morse or skilled voice operators.  Also, the extra equipment needed is bulky, fragile, and requires extra power, and likely a special paper supply, especially when compared to a modern portable transceiver.  Because of these limitations, RTTY and other keyboard modes are probably better utilized if deployed to a ECC (Emergency Communications Center) or Type 1 ARCT "hub" station.  (This reasoning assumes, of course, that there are other compatible digital traffic stations and circuits available to accept the message traffic.)

      The most important thing, however, is for ALL message traffic to be formatted in the standard universal format (often called the ARRL/NTS format), so it can quickly and accurately change from one mode to another, if necessary. - EM
      The staff of EMCOMM MONTHLY is happy to answer your questions to the best of our ability.  Some are "FAQs" (Frequently Asked Questions) and others are of a specific nature.  Each month, we will answer questions that may have value to other emcomm radio operators.  Technical questions are forwarded to our Technical Advisor, Ed Ewell, K7DXV.  Questions about our ARCT program or NIMS/ICS are forwarded to Jerry Boyd, N7WR.  Others may be forwarded to other staff members.  Questions regarding emcomm in general are usually handled by D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ. Some will wind up on our FAQ page at: http://www.wrrl.org/faq.asp
      Before submitting a question, we ask our readers to check the FAQ page first...your question may have been asked before.  Also, please consider checking our site search page at: http://www.emcomm.org/search.htm  to see if your question may have been previously addressed in EMCOMM MONTHLY.  Thank you.
      Q:  I can't seem to find a direct answer to this either from a WRRL search or a review of the ARRL NTS materials.  Assume that a public awareness event (think of a town fair or festival) is held and a local Amateur Radio club has an information booth and demonstrating radio operation to the public.  Is it permissible to take  messages (in this clearly non-emergency situation) from the public for injection into the NTS for delivery?  If permissible, is it also an approved practice?   And if the answer is still "yes", what are the reasonable bounds on message content?  I'm considering a RADIOGRAM "demo" as a public relations tool.  I understand that it would be an action that would leverage resources potentially much beyond the local club's. - Daniel McGlothin, KB3MUN, St. Thomas, PA

      A:  What you propose is very permissible.  As in all amateur radio, you cannot send business, cryptic, or profane messages, and should avoid accepting any traffic that is of a confidential nature.  As always, messages should be brief and concise.

      "SEND A FREE RADIOGRAM" booths at fairs, festivals and other community events were once common and were an effective tool to promote service to the public. They were quite a popular attraction and the general public enjoyed them, while at the same time providing an excellent opportunity for public service minded hams to get some realistic experience.   Of course, this was before the days of inexpensive and/or flat-rate wide-area cellular and landline telephone plans, instant text-messaging, email and the internet.  But back before all this low cost commercial service became widely available, commercial long-distance telephone calls were not only expensive, but were often time consuming while one waited while a "long-distance operator" made the necessary connections.  The public often made use of this free RADIOGRAM service to send a brief greeting to a friend or loved one.

      Amateur Radio operators were careful not to accept any domestic third-party traffic except for messages that people would not normally pay the long-distance charges to call over commercial telephone circuits.  International third-party radio messages are "limited to those of a technical nature and to personal remarks not important enough to justify use of the public telephone."  - (This rule still applies.  Ref: FCC Part 97.117)

      Today, most people will show little interest and see little value and in someone offering to send a greeting or other short message via amateur radio when they can pull their cell phone out and make a call to just about anyone in the world for no (extra) charge!  And, if they see a computer in the "radio" demo booth, they may suspect that the messages may not be going "all the way by radio" and are likely to be suspicious that emcomm may not be 100% by radio.

      If I were ever to do this, I would make the station look like an olde-tyme telegraph station and have the operators dressed in period costume (long sleeve white shirts with arm garters, green visors, etc.).  Or consider setting up a large tent http://www.emcomm.org/emcomm/emcomm2002/disc3/P4200023.JPG to make it look like a TYPE 2 ARCT disaster emcomm field station.  Have it divided into two areas.  A "lobby" area where persons originating a message can be assisted by a counter-person, and an area for the actual field station and operators that is clearly visible to the onlookers. 

      In the ideal public display set-up, there would be a glass or Plexiglas® divider between the counter area and the radio room.  This provides safety, security, and noise abatement that might distract the radio operator(s).  When this is done, have an intercom speaker (or several headphones) so the spectators can listen to both sides of the radio traffic.  However, more commonly there is only some open space between the two areas, but with some kind of a barrier (e.g. - a table or counter).  Radio operators should all use headphones.
      Remember:  A paper (hard copy) is always made and kept on file (for one year) at the station of origin.   That is why formal traffic is called "record message traffic".  Be sure that the "counter person" has the originator review the address and text for accuracy and sign/initial it before it is ever handed to a radio operator.  This shows the sender that his/her message is being taken seriously and that a record exists of what was actually sent.

      Be sure to have someone who is knowledgeable about radio, antennas, and communications on duty to explain what is going on "in the back," and have some informative pamphlets available.   Above all...be prepared to answer all questions (even stupid ones), and avoid attempting to dazzle your guests with a bunch of "techno-babble" or "geek-speak!"

      No matter who is sponsoring the station, all personnel should be neat, clean and properly identified and attired.  Look "professional!"  Smokers should take breaks away from the area.   If the booth is a WRRL station, all members should wear their WRRL name badges, pins, and uniform shirts with shoulder patch.

      Have placards and signs saying:  "Send a free RADIOGRAM the way it used to be!"  Or,  "COMMUNICATIONS -- When All Else Fails!" 
      In other words,  educate the general public about the value of amateur radio as it applies to EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS. - Editor
      By Jerry Boyd, N7WR, Associate Editor and ICS Advisor

      First off, my apology for providing a wrong answer in last month’s quiz.  I must have had “chief” on my mind.  The correct answer to the “who is in charge of communications” was Communications Unit Leader.  I know that because I am a COML for an Incident/Tactical Dispatch Team.  Old age!  Glad some readers caught the mistake.  Shows that folks pay attention and shows that many know

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