Here’s some important news that impacts all Registered Wayne County ARES members…
Wayne County ARES has been selected to “Beta-Test” an “improved process” for originating, sending, receiving, & delivering messages using the FEMA’s ICS-213 message format !!!!!!!!!!
>>>> Here’s a quickie overview of the situation:
Ham Radio operators, and more specifically Ham Radio Traffic Handlers, have been using the ARRL’s Radiogram form for all messages handled via the ARRL’s NTS (National Traffic System). This form is the result of over 100 years of evolution (!), and has proven to be an effective means of documenting and communicating messages in all sorts of situations from routine to genuine EMERGENCIES over the years. Bottom line, it does the job!
Along comes the Federal Government with a “bright idea”, that is, to take a typical “inter-office memo form” and demand that it be used for all messaging !!!!!!!!!! It’s called the FEMA ICS-213 form! Yes, the ICS-213 form does include some stuff that lends itself better to Governmental and other “legal” entities, such as provisions for Official Titles and sign-off approvals, lots of words in the message text, etc. However it lacks a lot of the Radiogram-type features that make it more suitable for “wireless” on-the-air communications, like…
(a) no document number to ease filing and retrieval,
(b) no indication of importance (precedence),
(c) no handling instructions,
(d) no indication of who the originating station is, who sent the message, who relayed it, who received it, etc.,
(e) no source location info, and – most important –
(f) no method to verify message communications accuracy. Ugh ☹.
Admittedly the Radiogram form also has some shortcomings, the most glaring of which is the suggested limit of 25 words in the message text.
While Radiograms have been in existence for a long LONG time (100+ in one form or another), it is currently being used only by ham radio traffic handlers – – – NTS, ARES, etc. – – – which total… maybe… 50,000 hams at most (and this is a VERY generous estimate). Conversely the FEMA’s ICS-213 is being taught to all Government employees at all levels (Federal, State, County, Local), Fire Departments, Emergency Responders, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc., etc.), numbering in the 10’s of MILLIONS of people! So, getting FEMA to change their ICS-213 to better serve ham radio traffic handling, is highly unlikely.
To complicate matters even more, the ARRL ARES Manual – Section 5.5 – goes into great detail on why we shouldn’t try to “modify” the ICS-213. Both ARRL and FEMA are quite anal about modifying the ICS-213… and – remember – the Government has a registered copywrite on the ICS-213 so any attempt to modify it, without extreme efforts made to indicate that the form is a modification “based on ICS-213”, can lead to un-good happenings.
Taking all this into consideration, Wayne County ARES has come up with a scheme to use the ICS-213 for AS-IS, yet include all key info typical of a Radiogram form to better serve wireless emergency communications effectiveness. This scheme has been submitted to W.T. Jones (WN3LIF), our ARES District-3 EC (and my “boss”) and he approved it. It was also sent to George Miller (W3GWM) who is our new ARRL Section Manager, and he liked it as well and authorized Wayne County ARES to train members on the new scheme and do some drills to try it out. This very well could lead to a formal ARRL Policy on how to use the FEMA’s ICS-213 form as George (W3GWM) is on the ARRL’s Committee to address the Radiogram vs. ICS-213 dilemma.
So, beginning on next week’s Wayne-Pike ARES Net (Thursday at 8PM on the 146.715 MHz releater, PL=82.5), we’ll start training on our scheme for using the ICS-213 form.
As usual all Training info presented on our nets will be posted on our Web Site for those who – for whatever reason – can’t check into our net.
This is a VERY important activity, and a high level of participation is requested of all Wayne County ARES members… PLEASE help out on this project.
73, Hank – WA2CCN
Henry G. Grilk – WA2CCN
Wayne County ARES
91 Bear Paw Drive
Lakeville, PA 18438