ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-02-04

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Luzerne County ARES® Sunday Night Bulletin
    "We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."
    Archilochus - Greek Poet and Soldier

    "Success is not Final. Failure is not Fatal. The only thing that matters is the courage to carry on."
    Winston Churchill


    If you are an ARRL member and you have at least noticed what the ARRL Board is doing then here is the information you need to react to it.
    If you are not aware of what the ARRL Board is doing then it is time for you to get informed!


    • Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    • Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    • Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
    • Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
    • Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    • Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 1/11/2018
    • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 2/3/18)...
    • Weekly Images
    • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
      • They are always listening!...
      • Being Careful About What You Say...
      • Situational Awareness...
      • Keep It Factual...
      • And Be Careful What You Post, Blog, Tweet, or Chirp...
      • Judgments and Opinions...
      • OH8STN and the Yaesu FT-817ND Data Mode Settings....
      • Posters for the LCARES Room...
      • Fldigi Configuration Files...
    • EPA-ARRL Web site...
    • Ham Radio Links
    • Closing
    Bulletin Date: February 4, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 184

    This Bulletin is for all Amateur Radio Operators in Luzerne County and any interested Amateur Radio Station anywhere.

    Note: A copy of this Bulletin is stored on the web site in .wav file format. This file can be replayed by Fldigi and Flamp to get the complete Bulletin.

    Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    Current Versions of Fldigi Suite
    Fldigi Flmsg Flamp
    4.0.15 4.0.5 2.2.03
    Current as of: February 4, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.

    Latest versions available at
    Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    - Important: The Sunday Night Bulletin is required reading for all LCARES Members.

    Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
    The Rotation Schedule for the LCARES Voice net has been posted on the Last update: January 27, 2018

    K3NDB & WB3FKP are temporarily out of the NCS rotation. AB3ZI has requested to be added to the NCS Rotation!

    Please be sure to review the NCS schedule before the upcoming nets.

    Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
    (These will be read by the Alternate NCS during the regular weekly session of the LCARES Voice Net.)

    * - indicates that announcement should not be read on the LCARES Net.

    1. N3SRO is still looking for shack photos for posting to the LCARES Facebook page. Send your photos to
    2. The February Monthly Message Challenge is active. Please remember that you have an entire calendar quarter to send at least 1 message to meet the requirements. If you send a message in February then technically you are done till April.
    3. AB3ZI has requested to be added to the Net Control Rotation! The Net Control schedule has been updated on to show AB3ZI's schedule. Thank you John for your help!
    4. Training topics for the LCARES net are being solicited by the EC. If you have a topic to want to see in the training send a radiogram to the EC or, if you must, an email.
    5. *The LCARES Net for February 6th is E-Power Night. Stations should try to check-in on e-power (emergency power).
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 1/11/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 2/3/18)...

    Sunday Night Bulletin for January 28, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    Bill, KC3HLT
    2106 hrs
    2nd Response
    Rich, KC3FKW
    Ian, K3IK
    tied @ 2111 hrs
    3rd Response
    Mark, WB3FKP
    2134 hrs
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 9
    Weekly Images
    Just the thing to be sitting in front of on a snowy winter evening...
    Unless you're enjoying the glow of these...
    And working some rare DX...
    Condolences to the Bouvet Island Crew. It is better to back off and live to DX another day.

    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    They are always listening!...
    - I had some friends who used to say that all the time. They were a bit on the jumpy side. Of course, they were not as bad as my friends who used to listen to the voices who told them to stay home and clean their guns. I never had to listen to those voices. I just stayed home and cleaned my guns because I wanted to stay home and clean my guns.

    Who needs voices to tell you to do that?

    The reason I am bringing this up is because of happening I had this week. Actually, two happenings. The first one was at the Lackawanna County ARES meeting when Dave Wolfe, KC3HLQ, said "I heard you on the air during the ice jams!" He was rather excited about it. He has been a ham for about a year now but just got his new HT. While he was listening he heard N3SRO and me while we were running around next to the river.

    That did not phase me because it was a fellow Ham who was excited about hearing a friend.

    The other one made me stop and think. One of my neighbors who is an ardent scanner buff stopped me while I was out doing my Taffi Walking Routine and said "I heard your voice on the scanner last Wednesday!" She was all excited about it. "You are really in with those emergency folks! That is great! You can let us know all the bad s*** that is going on so we can ready for it." Can you say tin foil hat time?

    I gently explained that what I say on the radio is just my observations so that those that need to make decisions have the facts. I went on to point out that what we as LCARES see is just a small part of the big picture. So our information would not be enough for anyone to make a decision. I think what really burst her bubble was when I told her that listening to the radio stations and NOAA All Hazards radio would get her more information than listening to the scanner. I really don't think she wanted to hear the voice of reason.

    Being Careful About What You Say...
    - It is hard to view something without putting your own personal imprimateur on it. There is a certain excitement involved when you are doing something important and providing information back to the powers that sent you. That excitement tends to encourage "embellishment" and "commentary" that are unnecessary. Remember that reporting accurately what you see is the most important goal.

    No one doubts that information is vital to decision making. That information is grist for the mill so to speak. An accurate description of viewed conditions helps those making decisions to get them right. There is a danger of injecting your impressions and distorting the information. That could result in bad decisions made back at the EOC.

    In addition, those additional ears that are tuned in may take your commentary and interpret differently because they are not getting all the information that the people in the EOC are getting. That isn't a good thing. News media, John Q. Public, and others do things based on your statements that should not be done and could endanger people.

    So keep any unrequested comments or observations out of the report if possible. There may be some times when you are requested to report on something but while doing so you see some thing unrelated that needs to be reported.

    For example:

    "EOC this is KB3VS"

    "KB3VS this is EOC go ahead"

    "The river is clear from shore to shore in Harding. River flowing smoothly. over"

    "KB3VS this is EOC Roger river is clear from shore to shore in Harding and flowing smoothly over"

    "Correct. There is a small green row boat overturned and floating in mid river. No occupants visible. Suggest that you report that to the Ops table for their information. over"

    "This is EOC Roger small green row boat overtuned and floating in mid river. No occupants visible. This will be sent to ops for their handling. over"

    "This is KB3VS Roger over"

    "EOC W3LUZ"

    KB3VS was sent to observe the ice conditions in Harding. His report is plain enough but some thing out of the ordinary was observed so he added it to his report after his main report was sent. Note that he did not say that there was a green over turned row boat IN TROUBLE in the river. It was interesting enough and unusual enough to report it as he saw it. He reported information.

    The Ops Table for us is the place where decisions are made. They may have more information regarding the boat and people may be looking for it. They can connect the report from KB3VS and get it to the group such as police or fire/rescue who can connect the reports.

    The important part of the example is that KB3VS reported only what he saw and did not embellish it.

    Situational Awareness...
    - KB3VS might have gotten to the spot where he was to observe the river and seen something entirely different. Remember our overturned green row boat. Lets say KB3VS sees that someone is clinging to it. Now that changes the situation entirely. Now that bit in the FCC Part 97 Rules pops....

    "EOC this KB3VS EMERGENCY EMERGENCY EMERGENCY" (Note the 3 times! Any station on the net hearing this should immediately stop transmitting and listen! No exceptions!)

    "KB3VS this is EOC over"

    "I see a overturned green row boat in mid river near Harding with one person clinging to it. Need Rescue immediately!"

    "KB3VS this is EOC overturned green row boat in mid river near Harding with one person clinging to it. Standby alerting the Ops table now."

    Side note here: Should the operator at the EOC leave the radio? If he is the only one in the LCARES room, yes. Otherwise he should stay with the radio and send another person with the message.

    Now you can imagine the level of stress has climbed significantly here. KB3VS's statement clearly says what he sees. He didn't interpret the situation and because his situational awareness said "that person on the row boat is more important then the ice" he reported that.

    Notice that in the example I used the 4-Cs. Get the other stations attention. Clearly state the situation. The Receiving Station repeated back the report to confirm receipt.

    Now if the EOC operator was experienced enough his last instructions to KB3VS would have been to keep the row boat in sight if possible but that is for another time.

    Keep It Factual...
    - We, as LCARES members, don't get enough time doing the real thing. When our stress levels rise our mouths open and our brains go into overdrive with the transmission in neutral. Some times what comes out is not what we intend. Drills and exercises are the only things that will stress us to get us used to the unusual events.

    Just remember to keep the eyes connected to the brain and report only what should be reported. That helps the decision makers to make those decisions that keep all of us safe.

    And Be Careful What You Post, Blog, Tweet, or Chirp...
    - In this social media age there is a constant need for some to report on our activities via social media. I cannot stress enough that we should not do that. Leave the posting alone until the incident is over and done. I know that there is that need to say "Look at me. I am helping out!" If you are helping then keep it to yourself until you are done helping. Remember that those that listen to the scanners have 10 times that many glued to social media. What they read may or may not give them the right impression of what is going on. Keep it off social media entirely.

    Sending private text messages to an individual is fine but don't use chat services or anything other network based service for relaying information between us. Things leak like that.

    And the above is not a request folks.

    Judgments and Opinions...
    - The last thing is a reminder to keep any statements that are judgemental or opinions out of anything that involves an incident. If some one asks you a question that involves you forming and stating an opinion about something especially a future event please ignore the question. If pressed refer them to the PIO at the EOC or to the LCARES Emergency Coordinator.

    Remember that LCEMA maintains a Rumor Control Hotline - 1-800-821-3716 to handle questions. Keep that number handy if you get a question while you are out doing your job refer the party to that number for the correct information.

    OH8STN and the Yaesu FT-817ND Data Mode Settings....
    - You may not own a Yaesu FT-817ND (you should - darn good radio) but Julian has some good information about setting one up for data. The information related is transferable too so giving it a listen and a watch is worth the time.

    Posters for the LCARES Room...
    - One of things that we don't get enough time doing is manning the LCARES room at the EOC during an incident. That is probably because there are not enough incidents but who is complaining about that? Certainly not me.

    There are things that need to be done though. Things that when we open the Ops Manual during the SSES drills are listed and we do them. The ice jam ops was so ad hoc that things did not get done and I was really at fault for that. Get that lumber and nails ready again.

    We should be:

    - logging all things (messages, operator changes, visitors to the room, reports made, etc.)
    - monitoring the radio on the assigned frequency
    - maintaining a roster of operators active and where they are
    - alerting other members for possible duty
    - updating Knowledge Center
    - getting hourly reports ready
    - and so on
    I have asked Dave, KC3IMJ, to help us put together a reminder poster for the LCARES room. They are like the ones posted through out the EOC. This should give us a nudge so that we remember to do these things even if the EC forgets. So the TM@EOC group will be asked for suggestions this Tuesday. Bring your brain with you.

    Fldigi Configuration Files...
    - I have been thinking about this for some time because the laptops need to have their fldigi programs configured. I really don't want an inexperienced operator configuring them during an incident and I don't want to have to talk some one through it over the radio during an incident. Not a good thing in any case.

    The problem that kept hopping to the forefront of my brain was the operator call signs. I finally decided that the call signs are not that important for the most part since most of the information except for the go-kits will be receive only. So W3LUZ should work for all of them.

    I know it is not a good solution but it works.

    I am preparing a complete set of W3LUZ fldigi/flmsg/flamp configuration files that we can load on the laptops on Tuesday. That along with the custom forms should make them complete.

    After the update is done we'll go ahead and test the receive portion of the laptops in preparation for the Murgas Meeting on Wednesday. This should make everything ready to go for our demo at the meeting.

    The Murgas Club Secretary said that there would be laptops for everyone to have a hands on demo. I am hoping to make it a pretty much "no hands needed" demo. Essentially, a plug in the microphone, turn on the radio, turn on the computer, and they should receive the incoming message without any additional assistance. That would be a real success.

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    - If you have not done it yet then what are you waiting for? Get to the EPA-ARRL web site and either submit your email address or like it on Facebook. It is the place to get the information and news about the EPA Section.

    Ham Radio Links
    N3LLR's Ham Radio Forum
    ARRL Eastern PA Section Web Site
    Luzerne County ARES®
    Harris County Texas ARES® - A great training resource
    Lake County (OH) RACES Personal Go-Kit for Emergency Operations - KE7LHR
    MecklenBurg County ARES® and RACES
    K0BG - The Website for Mobile Amateur Radio Operators (Perhaps the best web site on mobile operations I have found!)
    Origins of Ham Speak - Fact, Legends, and Myths??? - Compiled by AC6V from the Internet and other unreliable sources
    The Petite Prepper
    The VOA Radiogram
    Luzerne County ARES Facebook Page <-- New
    Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators.

    Send reception reports and comments to

    Have a good week everyone!


    ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL ARES® Emergency Coordinator
    Luzerne County ARES®
    ARES and "Amateur Radio Emergency Services" are registered service marks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Association of Amateur Radio. Use of these service marks is by permission only. Total prep time for this bulletin - 5 hours.

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