Responding to an emergency:
In the event of an emergency which might require activation of Rockdale County ARES (RCA) members, tune to the Conyers Amateur Radio Group 147.21 repeater. This repeater requires a subaudible tone of 162.2Hz and a positive offset of 600kHz.
The possibility exists that the repeater may not be functioning properly at any given time, so monitor 147.21MHz anyway. Be sure to disable tone squelch in this event.
Your Net Controller, if any, will use that frequency as a primary point of contact. Obviously, if the repeater is not working, use simplex operation. Check in with your Net Controller when he/she calls for check-ins, or when the frequency is not busy with other traffic. Be prepared to standby.
The Net Controller will periodically announce that he/she is conducting an emergency net for the Rockdale County Amateur Radio Emergency Service.The Net Controller will likely also announce other information that you will find important or useful, so be prepared to listen for a short while before transmitting, if possible. That information could include: the nature of the emergency, alternate frequencies for your use, instructions for responding ARES members, etc.
If a station attempting to check in is unsuccessful, another station might hear them quite well, especially during simplex operation, or on repeater reverse. If you DO hear a station the Net Controller cannot, then, when appropriate, simply transmit "Relay". The Net Controller will acknowledge you and ask you to relay for them.
WHAT CAN I REALLY DO NOW?
When responding to a call for assistance from RCA, be prepared to advise what your CURRENT capability is. That means: what frequencies and modes you are able to communicate via, how long you will be able to assist, your ability to get to an assignment, and so forth. It will be in your best interest to have made preparations beforehand to respond to a variety of situations. This would include not only radio equipment, but the ability to support yourself over a period of time and some knowledge of ARES procedures. There are many excellent sources of information concerning preparations available on the Internet and through the American Radio Relay League.
OUR SIMPLE ROLE
The role of RCA in any such emergency is simply to support our served agencies with communications via ham radio. While you may be asked to partake in other roles, you are by no means required or expected to by RCA or the ARRL. You will NOT be covered by workmen's compensation rules while responding in Rockdale County.
GET THE &*%$# OUT OF HERE!
If you are asked to cease operation or vacate an area by the authorities or law enforcement, please do so without question or comment. If able, relay to your Net Controller the situation. Remember, your Net Controller is trying to keep a handle on a larger situation, so keep them informed of pertinent information
BE FLEXIBLE MY FRIEND!
Other methods of communication may be employed, but no one method should be relied on solely if possible. Our ability to be flexible is our strong suit and is what makes us unique and valuable to the community. A quote worth remembering: "Blessed are the flexible, as they will not get bent out of shape".
LANGUAGE TO USE
Use of plain language is the order of the day. The use of codes is discouraged. Use as little verbiage as possible to convey the complete message. If possible, transmit a message exactly as it was given. Even a slight change may alter the meaning of a message.
PUBLIC STATEMENTS AND OPINIONS
It is not our job to give interviews or make statements to media. The authorities responsible for any incident will have a Public Information Officer for that purpose. You may wish to refer any questions to the PIO.
Be sure to have identifying documentation with you, especially your radio license and ARES badge or card and your personal ID. If you receive an assignment and are denied access, do not force the issue. Leave the area and notify your Net Controller. They will provide further instructions.
FCC RULES AND REGULATIONS
It could be useful to you to re-read the FCC rules concerning third-party traffic, use of amateur radio equipment by non-licensed personnel, and so on. It will also perhaps be useful to learn how to deal with RF interference issues. This is quite likely to occur in areas with many different sources of RF in use. Interference from amateur gear is not likely to be tolerated by public safety officials for instance. Have an idea of how to resolve such issues on your own, without disturbing anyone else's equipment. If any such issues cannot be resolved, discontinue operations and notify your Net Controller.
If you have ANY questions, contact your Net Controller. They will attempt to answer you.
Your RCA members have developed a form for your use which lists frequencies we may use. Most are simplex frequencies. They have names as well as numbers and everyone should have a copy. This is done in the format requested by Homeland Security and is in use all over the country. The form is the Incident Command System (ICS) Form IC-217A. Ask for your copy. Keep it with your go-kit. The forms are periodically updated, so check for the date on the front page. It will be helpful for you to learn the International Civil Aviation Organization names for letters, such as A=Alpha, B=Bravo.
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