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
Dear Fellow Ham Radio Operators,As an FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Operator I’m sure that you are very much aware of the Public Service activities of Ham Radio Operators during times of emergencies or when disasters occur. The role of Ham Radio in providing auxiliary communications capabilities to various groups or agencies like local, regional, and national governmental bodies, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Hospitals, etc. during times of need are well known… think of “9/11”, Sandy and other hurricanes – – – and even international disasters such as the tragedy in Puerto Rico. As licensed Ham Radio Operators, it’s what we do, and the FCC and FEMA have recognized this.The FCC’s Rules and Regulations, Part 97, begins with “Part 97.1, Basis and Purpose” – – -The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. In other words, the single most significant justification for the very existence of the Amateur Radio Service is the role of ham radio as a provider and resource of emergency communications capabilities! There is tremendous commercial and government competition for the radio spectrum, which is a finite resource – – – and there has got to be some powerful justification for dedicating portions of that valuable spectrum to ham radio operators. With this in mind, it is incumbent upon ALL licensed ham radio operators to voluntarily register to help out in any way they can in case of emergency or disaster situations – – – again, it’s what we do! One way that you can do this is registering as a member of the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) organization. ARES membership is open to all licensed Amateur Radio Operators, regardless of license class. What does “registering as an ARES member” mean? All it means is that ARES can count on you to help out – in any way that you can – be it personal participation, availability of equipment, whatever, in case of emergencies/disasters, and only IF YOU ARE AVAILABLE TO DO SO. That’s it! No requirements for any actions on your part – – – just basic preparedness. Beyond that basic registration, your VALUE to ARES obviously depends on your level of training and experience. Those with the highest level of training and the most experience might be assigned to leadership roles, traffic handlers, relay stations, on-site liaison, etc., in case of emergencies/disasters. Others with lesser degrees of training/experience might be assigned to more general activities and support roles. It is the purpose of the ARES of Wayne County, PA (WC-ARES) to provide opportunities for it’s members to participate in training activities (training nets, simulated emergencies, etc.) and gain much needed experience in traffic handling and how to handle emergency communications – e.g., on site, at a Control Station, of even from a home station as a relay. As the EC (ARES Emergency Coordinator) for Wayne County, my role is to act as an “organizer” and “coordinator”, not a “boss” or “manager” or “supervisor” in any way. I have no authority to require that anybody do anything. ARES is strictly a volunteer activity, and members are free to participate at any level they want. However, it IS my job to encourage participation in training and activities that will provide members with the experience necessary to be valuable assets in case of emergency/disaster situations. Having said all this, the bottom line is that I am asking each of you to please consider registering as a WC-ARES member. To do so, just fill out the online ARES Registration Form and then click “SUBMIT”. Many of you may have already registered as ARES members – – – but, since this is a “fresh start” to WC-ARES, I ask that those of you who had registered before to please re-register again. Actually, ARES members are supposed to be doing re-registration on an annual basis anyway as your station, frequencies/modes of operation, contact info, etc. may have changed since your last registration. Also, if you’re not currently active on-the-air, or don’t have equipment, please just register anyway! Any level of help would be appreciated in an emergency or disaster situation! The current plan is to hold weekly ARES nets for training on traffic handling (using the ARRL’s National Traffic System, or “NTS” and Radio Relay Inc. guidelines). If a ham can create, relay, receive/deliver messages using ARRL NTS Radiogram forms, that ham can handle any kind of message forms/procedures that any ARES Served Agency may require. These nets are targeted to take place every Thursday evening at 8PM on the 146.715MHz Repeater (PL = 82.5 Hz), which is located on the 300’ tower at Tanglewood (Tafton – “Sholola Falls”). ARES Members will be notified when the weekly nets kick-off. WC-ARES quarterly meetings (Time/Dates/Location TBD) will focus on ARES policies and procedures. Note that ARES is NOT A CLUB! It is strictly an organization focused on emergency communications capabilities and training. There’s no “dues” or Club-type parliamentary meetings – – – just training and practice and accumulating experience in traffic handling and emergency/disaster preparedness. However, those wishing to become involved with an Amateur Radio Club, please go to the Wayne County ARC Web Site at www.w3aro.org for more info. So, who am I ??? My name is Hank Grilk, WA2CCN, and I live in Lakeville – near the northwest corner of Lake Wallenpaupack. I hold an Amateur Extra Class License and ARRL appointments as VE, TS, ORS, and OES, as well as ARES EC. At this point I am very active in traffic handling at the EPA Section level (Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Phone Traffic Net, Assistant Net Manager and Net Control Station) plus 3rd Region, and Eastern Area levels. Yup, I’m old (!), retired, happily married for 52+ years, been licensed since the 50’s, and am an Engineer (Electronics & Mechanical) by trade. Frankly, my personal objective is to get ARES of Wayne County up and rolling again to the point where we are capable of offering our services as an auxiliary or supplemental communications resource to various Served Agencies within Wayne County – – – then turn the EC role over to someone younger and with more energy that I have. Organizationally, ARES in the ARRL EPA Section is divided into 5 Districts… Wayne County is in District 3, along with Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike and Susquehanna Counties. The current EPA Section Emergency Coordinator is W.T. Jones (WN3LIF), who is also the District 3 Emergency Coordinator and the EC for Luzerne County. Here in Wayne County I’m the EC, and my Assistant EC is Lee Glassman (KC3LEE). These are exciting times for Amateur Radio in general, with new technologies popping up all the time, and we must all be diligent in improving our communicating skills, optimizing our capabilities with core technologies, while at the same time embracing new technologies and pioneering their usefulness in emergency/disaster situations.Any questions? Please call me. 73, Hank – WA2CCN
Henry G. Grilk WA2CCN@ARRL.NET
91 Bear Paw Drive Home: 570-390-4215
Lakeville, PA 18438 Cell: 401-651-5670