“Message Relays via Local Net Control Stations”
August 20, 2016 (09:00-12:00)
Klaus K6KHB, ACS Exercise Coordinator
The Bay Area has been struck by a major earthquake. Emergency communications are swamped coping with dispatching first responders, cell phones circuits are overloaded, and the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) needs county-wide information on the extent of the damage. They have asked the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) for damage assessment throughout the county.
ACS has established local Net Control Stations (NCSs) throughout the county to compile information supplied by ACS members from their home stations. Each NCS will have 2 radio operators: one monitoring and controlling a local simplex frequency, the other communicating with EOC. Messages compiled by the local operator will be handed off to the other operator for transmission to EOC and vice versa. (The East and West NCSs will forward this information to EOC via the W6CX 220/440 repeater; the Central and South NCS will use 147.555 simplex.)
Participants not involved with a local NCS are asked to send traffic to the local NCS and respond to queries by the NCSs.
Fldigi in the MT63 2kL mode will be the primary mode for moving traffic; stations that do not have that capability are encouraged to participate with voice traffic. .
The objectives of this exercise are:
1. Demonstrate capability to set up local Net Control Stations (either from a fixed or a portable station) each with at least two operators … one to compile local traffic, the other to pass traffic to CoCoEOC
2. Demonstrate efficient handoff of messages between the two operators, and between EOC and the NCSs.
3. Assess the ACS capability to move radio traffic using fldigi in the MT63 2kL (centered on 1500) mode using forms available on flmsg; this includes originating traffic and responding to traffic, as well as relaying digital traffic.
4. Demonstrate capability by the local NCSs to receive voice traffic and record it on ICS forms for digital transmission.
The exercise is scheduled for 09:00 to 12:00 to allow plenty of time for everyone to gain practice and experience. If a local net exhausts traffic from its participants, the net may stand down earlier. Local nets should inform EOC when they shut down.
We’ll send out a Community Warning Notification by text, phone, and email around 08:45 asking ACS members, starting at 09:00, to make radio contact with their local NCS with damage assessment reports.
The NCSs will be running controlled nets. Check-in on 2-m fm can be by voice or digital; avoid lengthy transmissions until you are informed by net control to proceed. Talk in brief sentences and key off for acknowledgment before continuing. Individual stations may be assigned tactical call signs by their local NCS, e.g. “Central 1” or “EAST 3).
Don’t forget to preamble messages with “This is a Drill”, and state your FCC call sign at the end of a conversation.
REMEMBER THE FIRST RULE OF ESTABLIHING AN EMERGENCY NET: If there is no net control station on the air, the first one on the net assumes that responsibility.
Each participant should
At a minimum, check in with a local NCS by voice. (Check the other frequencies to see if you can communicate with more than one NCS).
For those with fldigi capability:
1) use fldigi keyboard to keyboard for checking in (program a macro if you’re up to it)
2) use flmsg
i) form>ICS>ICS213 for a narrative damage report; e.g. “Highway 4 Alhambra Ave west-bound onramp is blocked by overturned big rig. Driver not injured. Tow truck is on the way. No time estimate for opening the ramp.” Be creative in filling it out; this is serious business to learn, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it. Feel free to send several different ones.
ii) form>csv Generate a short Excel spreadsheet ahead of time, save in .csv format, and send via flmsg. For example … rows: Shelter 1, shelter 2, shelter 3, etc; columns: cots, blankets, pillows, folding chairs; the entries would be the number of each required.
3) When you generate messages, don’t be shy about requesting responses … after all we want to keep EOC and NCSs on their toes. eg. “Power line down on intersection of A and Elm street. Wires appear to be live. Notify PG&E and advise.”
4) Use ICS 214 form to record your activities
5) If you have to leave the net, inform the Net Control Operator
Each NCS should
1) Each NCS should have two radios with 2-meter capability, as well as fldigi
2) Control traffic
3) Record local traffic
4) Solicit, encourage and tutor, if necessary, fldigi/flmsg traffic
5) Keep track of how many stations check in with
a) fldigi and voice and
b) voice only
6) Gain proficiency in file handoff between operators
a) Thumbdrives for file transfer
b) Acoustic coupling between the two computers
c) ? Other …
7) Forward traffic to EOC. East and West via W6CX 220/440 repeater; Central and South on 147.555 MHz
8) Use tactical call (East, West, Central, South) and FCC call at 10 minute intervals
1) Control traffic with NCSs
2) Receive, record, and respond to messages
3) Generate traffic (status inquiries) to NCSs
3) Use tactical call (EOC) and FCC call at 10 minute intervals
We will not have an HF net for this exercise.
Each NCS should have two radios with 2-meter capability, as well as fldigi
EOC to NCSs: 147.555 MHz simplex (Central and South)
224.780 – PL 77Hz/441.325 + PL100 Hz (East&West)
NCSs local nets:
East 147.570 MHz simplex voice and fldigi
West (Richmond) 147.450 MHz simplex voice and fldigi
Central 145.680 MHz simplex voice and fldigi
South 147.480 MHz simplex voice and fldigi
If you are unable to contact your NCS (eg. due to terrain) you may use the WA6HAM 2-m repeater, which will be monitored in EOC radio room.
1) Remember to use “This is a Drill” in your communications
3) Use tactical call sign if you have one assigned to you; end conversations with you FCC callsign
4) Keep track of your activities on an ICS 214 form throughout the exercise.
5) Provide After Action Comments
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
1) What went right
2) What went wrong
3) What could we do better
4) Recommendations for future exercises