December, 2003 EMA PSHR, NTS Traffic Totals
The December, 2003 EMA traffic net and Public Service Honor Roll totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
National Traffic System (NTS), traffic handling
The December, 2003 EMA traffic net and Public Service Honor Roll totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
Please view K9HI’s article Balkanization of NTS with attending commentary. Although this editorial and commentary represents the opinions of those authors, we feel that it is worth your time to view and ponder. – W1MPN
Eastern Massachusetts Section Manager Phil Temples, K9HI has written on opinion piece entitled Balkanization of the National Traffic System for your thoughtful consideration.
An opinion piece by Phil Temples, K9HI
December 23, 2003
Recently, I received a letter in the mail from one of our section’s more prolific traffic handlers, Gil, W1GMF. Gil had copied me on a letter sent to him by another Section Manager. (I’ll maintain the anonymity of this SM and refer to him simply as “Joe Manager.” And, no–his first name isn’t “Joe.”)
In his letter to W1GMF, Joe Manager wrote, “I must inform you that your radiograms sent to [my section] stations must stop as we are having a real problem with getting stations to take the spam traffic.” Joe went on to write, “Your radiograms is (sic) a gross misuse of the NTS system. As the system was not originally meant to send these types of message from one ham to another. (sic) This is not considered a public service.”
Joe Manager concluded his letter with some serious statements that cut to the heart of this essay. He wrote, “…I’ll only have two recourse (sic) if you continue to send these messages. I’ll either get them stopped at the Regional intake or I’ll personally take all your traffic and put in file thirteen… I would hate to [have] all of your radiograms trashed. I’m sure that you do pass some good ones now and then.”
As someone who “cut his ham radio teeth” in NTS and traffic handling, participating at the section, region and area levels, it came as quite a surprise to me to learn that sending radiograms from one ham to another was a “gross misuse” of the system. I decided to contact Joe Manager to learn what his source of information was.
Joe Manager and I spoke on the telephone yesterday. Our conversation was civil. I asked him to explain his position further so that I might better understand the rational behind his threats. Joe Manager reiterated that he and the traffic handlers in his section felt that the traffic originated by W1GMF was “spam.” Joe thought that W1GMF and others like him were simply trying to “run up their totals” in order to earn awards. [Joe Manager did say, “I understand that W1GMF doesn’t always turn in his traffic totals at the end of the month.”] Further, Joe explained that many traffic handlers in his section had simply decided to “hang it up” on account of the volume of these messages coming into his section.
I asked Joe Manager if he could point me to the source of his information that indicated “amateur-to-amateur” traffic was inappropriate on NTS. He referred me to a document authored by his Section Traffic Manager–a document I had already read. I asked Joe, “Is there a reference to some ARRL publication that he may have used?” Joe replied, “I’m sure that there is. I’ll get back to you on that.”
I asked Joe Manager if he had discussed this matter with any NTS Area Staff. “I’ve discussed this matter with my Division Director and with my Net Managers.” Joe added, “Area Staff? Who are they, now? What do they do?”
Joe argued that the W1GMF traffic was “all the same.” He was referring, of course, to the fact that it arrived in book format. Joe Manager felt that this particular attribute made the traffic especially undesirable–hence, spam. I pointed out to Joe Manager that his description of the traffic as “spam” was not only inflammatory, but incorrect. I explained that the term “spam” is used to describe “unsolicited, commercial e-mail,” and before that, “unsolicited, commercial Usenet posts.” Joe agreed with me on this sole point–he would refrain from using the term “spam” to describe the messages. Instead, he would call W1GMF’s traffic “generic radiograms.”
I asked Joe Manager how much traffic was passed on his section nets. He replied, “Not much.” I then asked if he would agree with me that eliminating the greeting traffic would reduce the amount of messages and net participation even further. I received a very telling answer: “I could care less whether there’s any traffic!”
Joe Manager explained to me that, in his opinion, traffic handling skills should be taught under the auspices of ARES. Joe had already decided to cancel the STM position in his section, in anticipation of field organization restructuring heralded in the recent VRC report to the ARRL Board of Directors.
Again, during our conversation, Joe Manager reiterated that he would personally block “generic radiograms” from entering his section. He went on to point out that this was also occurring at the “Eleventh and Twelfth Region levels.”
Excerpting from the email of a Washington, D.C.-area traffic handler who states the case for generic, or greeting traffic eloquently:
“I hardly need to tell you that we are a service, and our continued existence depends on the perception of us as a service–one that comes through when all else fails. NTS (and ARES) are designed to provide practice for those times when we are called upon to serve. If that means handling a book of 22 birthday messages to octegenarians, so be it. My 17-year-old daughter practices her volleyball serves hundreds of time during the course of a season; my eight-year-old practices the violin for long periods of time (with no parental guidance, I’m afraid). Rote is good. Routine is good. A book of 22 birthday messages today prepares us to handle a book of 22 health and welfare messages tomorrow. Tomorrow won’t come? Move last week’s 6.5 magnitude earthquake south of Paso Robles, oh, say, 200 miles, and there will be a lot of tomorrows…”
In closing, I am appalled that someone in a position of leadership–an ARRL Section Manager, of all people–would threaten to block radiograms en masse. Imagine what would happen to the National Traffic System if every section–indeed, every traffic handler took the law unto his or her own hands and decided what traffic they felt was appropriate and worthy of relay or delivery. Or, region and area liaisons accepting the responsibility for relaying messages, only to silently discard them–to “put in ‘file thirteen'” as Joe Manager would say.
I wonder if we’ll soon hear exchanges on the nets like, “Sorry–we don’t accept ham-to-ham greeting traffic. Birthday traffic? Okay; Handi-ham traffic–nope. ‘License expiration warning’ traffic is okay. Net reports are… well–maybe, I guess.”
Will your next radiogram pass the “sniff test?”
It’s bad enough when individual traffic handlers act irresponsibly by accepting messages, only to discard them. However, it’s particularly reprehensible that someone in a leadership or liaison role would attempt to block traffic into his/her region or section, thus depriving the many from enjoying the pleasures of participating in this great pastime we call the NTS.
Are we witnessing the balkanization of the National Traffic System?
Follows is an excerpt from one of the many messages received by Gil, W1GMF. I believe it epitomizes what Gil and company have tried to accomplish by generating the greeting traffic. I suspect that this story is being played out across the country:
“I had someone check into one of our 2-meter traffic nets and although he’d never handled any traffic before and didn’t know the format …talked him into getting his feet wet.
“…Held him until the end of the net and then talked him through copying a short book explaining the format and as he copied… telling him when to start a new line and when to put in blank lines. Since I could monitor it, [I] listened to him relay that traffic on the VHF net he took it to. He did fine.
“Waited to see if he’d come back the next day. He did and was willing to take more traffic. Now I’m trying to make sure I’ve got a short book of your messages (or at least something) each day for him so he has something to look forward to and a reason to continue checking into the net. That, of course, also involves him in another net. Any traffic he can’t deliver himself he takes to this second net and relays it there.”
The November, 2003 EMA section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
Congrats to W1GMF, KW1U, N1IQI and N1LKJ for top activity report totals in November. [Full story]
The October, 2003 EMA section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ. Congrats to W1GMF, KW1U, and N1IQI for top activity report totals in October. [Full story]
The September, 2003 EMA section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ. Congrats to W1GMF, N1IQI, and KW1U for top activity report totals in September. [Full story]
***** EMa ARES Leadership Action Plan *****
***** Please initiate at approximately 1400 today *****
Hello to all….
The present forecast is a nominal solution, even though the present consolidated prediction has the storm hitting land in the Carolinas and moving well inland away from us. Still, a run straight at us has not been ruled out as of yet, and a strike east of NYC (which is not a big change of direction from where it is now), could bring very undesirable effects into our area. Please don’t let down from your vigilance or preparations for this storm until Rob or I give an all clear.
Here is the action plan. Thanks to Frank WQ1O for putting pen to paper on this. [Comments within brackets are that of the author of this message for clarity and continuity]. Please press on the “read more” link.
(USN COAMPS Model Valid 12Z Thurs 18 Sep 03)We had some prelim items before entering 72 hours, we are virtually past that now, [but it was] mostly a check of leadership availability, including ECs [and key] ARES members. Note: this is just availability, not a standby or alert
We are almost near the 72 hour trigger, [which is slated to] start at 9-15….1400 local. [We]need to begin with coordination emails sent by Rob to Skywarn list..general [Done]. DECs should begin situational awareness updates mostly for information purposes…leading to preparedness. No mention of assignments or deployment, as it would raise premature wantings to step too far ahead..DECs need to contact their ECs or any other ARES member to see if any requests have come from EM directors or ANY served agency member that compression of timeline can occur if speed estimates change comments on 72 hour preps? [I] forgot to mention that the chain of info works both ways, [as] you need to make sure that requests and info goes both up and down the chain to ensure uniform knowledge.
At 48hours you should begin your calldown to your ECs and down to the members [and] log any discrepancies or issues. MAKE IMMEDIATE preps to secure your own property! You can’t help anyone if your worried about the thing you did not get done for personal readiness! Coordination messages should continue from skywarn to their general list. The skywarn messages are CRITICAL to decision making.
We will go on to 36 hours. [You should] begin the] second call down to ARES EC and the membership lists. You may find that people that were not available in the first call down are now available. The opposite is also true. In a drama like this…plans can change quickly. You need to have as close to real time avail. lists as possible. It also gives those vital #s that Mike needs for Situation reporting. This is the next step, [to] initiate comms with other DECs and the SEC. If we don’t, we are likely to miss something major in the process. [We] also [want to] stress the EC-DEC up and down chain of reporting on served agency requests and possible sources of otherwise unknown info from EMs..
24 hour preparations. Initiate a FULL statue [status] report from the DEC level to Mike (SEC). [The] SEC MUST know what weaknesses exist in order to make decisions. Send as many as you feel the need to do. Often is BETTER! Also..if time permits, a meeting of leadership can be called on IM, in person, or via conference call.
For EC’s and EMA reps to ARES: Please report your status ASAP to your DEC upon reading this.
For DEC’s: Please forward a preliminary report upon receipt of this notice.
IMPORTANT: Future updates will appear first on our website, then by email if time and conditions allow.
FOR ALL: Please complete home preparations now, and review contact and mobilization policies posted on our website (listed below by my name).
I look forward to working with you in the following days. Best to you and your families. 73,
s/Michael P. Neilsen
Michael P. Neilsen, W1MPN, EMa SEC
978.389.0558 FAX/Secondary Voice
The July, 2003 section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
Congrats to W1GMF, N1IQI, KW1U, and N1IQI for top activity report totals in July.
The presentation of a BPL bronze medallion from the ARRL was made to Loren Pimental, N1IQI at the July 15, 2003 meeting of the Massasoit Amateur Radio Association.[Full story]
The presentation of a BPL bronze medallion from the ARRL was made to Loren Pimental, N1IQI at the July 15, 2003 meeting of the Massasoit Amateur Radio Association for points assessed from traffic handling over a period of 6 months.
Presenting the award to Loren (center) were Phil Temples, K9HI, ARRL Section Manager (left) and Jim Ward, N1LKJ, Section Traffic Manager (right).
Congratulations, Loren, on this recognition of your participation in this important aspect of amateur radio.
The section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
Congrats to W1GMF, KW1U, N1LKJ and N1IQI for top activity report totals in June.
Attention EMA/RI traffic handlers! EMA Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ has organized a traffic handlers picnic on Sunday, August 10, 2003 in Rayham, MA. Full details are posted on the EMA NTS web site. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.
It was 10:40PM on the Heavy Hitters Traffic Net. John W1ZNY (now a silent key) listed a
piece of traffic for Quincy. I had been checking into the Traffic Nets for about 2 weeks
and I finally built up the courage to take a piece of traffic.
I jumped in at the next listing of traffic and said, “N1LKJ for Quincy”. The Net Control
quickly replied, “N1LKJ for Quincy”. “W1ZNY please call N1LKJ and pass 1 Quincy
on frequency”. “Roger” came the reply from W1ZNY. “N1LKJ from W!ZNY are you
ready to copy”? “Yes” I replied “But go slow, its my first time”. “No problem” said
John. “Please copy message ” and he passed me the message at a copyable pace.
Shortly after that I was cleared from the Net. It was now about 10:45PM and I was very
proud of myself and quickly reached for the phone to deliver the traffic. After several
rings the phone was answered by a female voice, who the message was indented for.
I introduced my self and told her I had a message for her from Courage Handy Hams in
Golden Valley Minnisota. I then proceeded to give her the message. She thanked me for
the message and then said. “Please don’t deliver me any more messages after 10 o’clock
because I am a handicapped person, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on others
to put me into bed”. My stomach fell to my feet and I profusely apologized to her.
She quickly accepeted my apology. I told her it was my first piece of traffic I ever delivered
and after that she asked me questions about Ham Radio and we talked for a few minutes.
Needless to say I learned a very important lesson. I never delivered another piece of traffic
after 9:00PM, except of course if it was emergency traffic or Mars Traffic.
The women became a regular user of the NTS, for sending out greetings to friends and
relatives all over the country. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but I will never
forget that first piece of traffic.
Jim Ward N1LKJ STM-EMA
Jim Ward, N1LKJ wrote:
The NTS Training Session conducted by Mark, W2EAG was completed the end of May. The 13 week course met once each week. Those who completed the course were: Bill Mcinerney, N1KBV of Bourne; Ed Maccaferri, KB1ERV of Plymouth; John Mahon, N1PYN of Brockton; Kenton Bradshaw, KB1ESG of Falmouth; Andrew Bullington, W1AWB of Siaconset; George Allen, N1NBQ of Nantucket; John Dehahy, Jr., W1ABS of Centerville; Kenneth Pereault, N1KP of Swansea.
We congratulate all who completed the course. We also wish to commend their instructor, Mark Rappaport, W2EAG for the great job he did in presenting the course. All stations who completed the course received a Certificate of Achievement from Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.
Everyone can anticipate another class in the Boston area sometime in the fall.
-Jim Ward N1LKJ, STM-EMA
The May, 2003 section traffic totals have been posted to http://nts.ema.arrl.org by Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ. Congrats to W1GMF, KW1U and N1IQI for their stellar station activity report totals in May.
A new traffic handling training net will begin on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m., beginning February 13th, on the Falmouth repeater (146.655, no tone). This is an excellent method to learn about traffic handling. It’s also excellent training for RACES/ARES groups. Many thanks to Mark, W2EAG for leading this effort, and to the Falmouth Amateur Radio Association for hosting the net.
ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section
Section Manager: Phillip Temples, K9HI
A new traffic handling training net will begin on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m., beginning February 13th, on the Falmouth repeater (146.655, no tone).
This is an excellent method to learn about traffic handling. It’s also excellent training for RACES/ARES groups.
Many thanks to Mark, W2EAG for leading this effort, and to the Falmouth Amateur Radio Association for hosting the net.
fiction by Phil Temples, K9HI
published, January 5, 2003
This story, while fictionalized, serves as an introduction to the National Traffic System beyond the local nets. The dedicated hams who relay traffic throughout the US and Canada are role models for all who aspire to this high service.
I transmitted the net name, “EAN” indicating to stations that they should now “QNI” or “check in” to the Eastern Area Net. This particular net was being conducted via Morse code, an efficient mode for this sort of work. Traffic would be heavy this Tuesday evening, just a few days before Christmas. I was Net Control Station, or “NCS” of the Eastern Area Net, a clearing house for all formal, written radiogram messages passing between regions in the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and Canada.
As NCS of the net it was my responsibility to act as the “master of ceremonies” to ensure that stations with messages for one region would get hooked up to their counterparts in other regions to send, receive and relay messages destined for other nets.
In response to my call, I heard:
Three stations came back simultaneously with different “signs” and on slightly different frequencies a few Hertz apart. The result was a not-unpleasant melody of varying pitches spelling out letters like “E”, “M” and “S.” They were easily distinguishable to the ear. I thought I recognized the swing in the “M” emanating from the semi-automatic key “fist” of W2MTA.
“Dah dah,”I replied, pressing one side of the Bencher paddle to form the dashes indicating that the station signing “M” should go ahead.
Immediately I heard, “…DE W2MTA PAN RX QRU.“
Bill’s regular schedule, or “sked” involved him acting as the receiving station (“RX”) for message traffic destined for the Pacific Area Net. Bill used a standard Q signal, “QRU” to indicate that he had no traffic to send.
“W2MTA R AS,” I replied. “R” meant “received.” And the letters “AS” sent together “didahdididit” instructed him to standby.
“DE,” I replied, in turn.
“…W2EAG 1RN TX QTC CAN 12 3RN 5 4RN 3 AR.”
W2EAG, Mark in Taunton, Massachusetts was the First Region Net Transmit station. His list of traffic, or “QTC” included the traffic’s destination followed by actual number of messages. Clearly, Central Area Receive was going to be busy this evening. In addition, Mark listed traffic for the Third and Fourth Regions.
Sending radiogram traffic on Morse code can be an absolute pleasure. One of the real advantages one has using Morse code over voice is something called “full break-in.” If Mark had been transmitting simultaneously, or “doubling” with another station he would have quickly known this by hearing the dots and dashes of someone else’s signals between his own. The concept is similar to a group at a party who begin to speak all at once, then pause and allow one to proceed. Traffic handlers refer to full break-in as “QSK.” Sent as a question, QSK means, “Can you receive between my signals?” As a statement it means, “I can receive between your signals.”
I instructed the sender of “U” to proceed.
“DE KW1U CAN RX QRU K.”
Marcia, KW1U, from Martha’s Vineyard was accepting messages on behalf of the Central Area Net. Marcia would check in directly to the Central Area Net in one hour with any messages she received off the Eastern Area Net.
I decided to get down to business.
“…dah,” replied Marcia, immediately.
“…dit,” Mark responded, about fifty milliseconds later.
“D 10 CAN.”
Simultaneously I heard two “dahs” from Marcia and Mark, respectively, acknowledging my instructions.
In less than six seconds I had instructed both stations to move off frequency’specifically “D 10” or “down ten kilohertz.” It was understood that Marcia would be receiving traffic destined for CAN. As the receiver, she would call Mark on the closest open frequency “down ten” per my instructions.
“EAN K.” Ready for more business.
I acknowledged the “B” station.
“…DE VE3BDM ECN TX 1RN 4 2RN 3 4RN 6 8RN 2 AR.”
George in Elizabethtown, Ontario, acting as Eastern Canada Net’s TX station, listed his QTC.
Without so much as an “R” for acknowledgement I decided to hook George up with the Fourth Region Net Receive station–a station who had not yet checked in.
“4RN RX QNI,” I sent to the net. In other words, “Fourth Region Net Receive station please check in now.”
“…DE W4ANK 4RN RX QRU,” came the reply.
I dispatched the two off frequency:
“W4ANK VE3BDM U 7 4RN.”
I heard a quick “dit” and “dah” response from W4ANK and VE3BDM as they headed “Up Seven” to handle the Fourth Region traffic.
Ten minutes later, I had Transmit and Receive stations checked in from the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth and Eastern Canada Region Nets. I also had TX and RX stations from the Central and Pacific Area Nets. The latter were members of the TCC or “Transcontinental Corps”, an elite group who liaise between the three Area nets.
An Alternate Transmit, or “ALT TX” station from First Region Net came to EAN. The 1RN Net Control Station had wisely decided to spread the load of outgoing traffic between two stations instead of a single TX station. To further assist with the heavy volume I also had 2RN- and a 3RN ALT RX stations standing by if needed. One other station with no assignment casually checked in, “QRU.” I politely excused him from the net.
I consulted the “bingo sheet,” my low-tech, pencil-and-paper solution for tracking the locations and traffic lists of all stations on the Net. By my calculations I had facilitated the passing of roughly 60 percent of the traffic listed. Several stations were “queued” up off frequency awaiting their turn to send traffic to receiving stations.
Using my auxiliary VFO, I tuned down 20 kHz to hear how the Fourth Region Net Receive and Third Region Transmit stations were doing. Everything sounded copasetic.
The 3RN TX ended a message with the pro sign “AR” followed by the number 1, indicating that he had one more message left to transmit. 4RN RX acknowledged that he was ready to copy the next message by answering with a single “dit”. I decided that it was time to have the next station with 4RN traffic queued up and ready to go.
I flipped back to the net frequency.
“HRI,” I sent, addressing the 1RN Alternate TX, WB1HRI.
“Dit,” replied WB1HRI.
“QNQ D 20 W4ANK 4RN,” I said. (Translation: “Change frequency down 20 kHz and wait for W4ANK to finish handling traffic. Then send him traffic for 4RN.”)
“G,” he replied. (“Going.”)
Just like that, it was done.
I dialed “Up 20” to listen to the traffic flow between the 2RN TX and 3RN RX stations. Things were a little rough. The Receive station had instructed the Transmit station to “QRS 10” or “Send more slowly, 10 words per minute.” There was a significant amount of signal fading, or “QSB” between the two stations.
Solid copy is paramount when handling radiograms; speed takes a back seat to accuracy. I’ve heard veteran traffic handlers slow down to less than five wpm when the situation warranted.
“…MERRY CHRI […] MA…”
The receiving station hit his key to interrupt. When he heard the TX station had stopped, RX sent, “AA MERRY.” Translation: “ALL AFTER the word MERRY.”
A causal operator might assume that the word in question was CHRISTMAS. When handling traffic, however, one does not assume. Instead, one requests a “fill” by using pro signs such as AA (“All After”), AB (“All Before”), BN (“BetweeN”) and so forth.
The sending station picked up with the word MERRY and continued sending the rest of the message slowly.
Back on the Net frequency I heard, “QRL?” A station that was not a part of the Net was inquiring, “Is the frequency in use?”
“QRL” I replied. (“The frequency is in use.”)
“SRI.” The station apologized for the intrusion and left.
A moment later, I heard: “OKN NG” followed immediately by, “…FTX.”
The previous exchange between the 3RN RX and 2RN TX stations had gone poorly. W3OKN had indicated a busted exchange by saying “NG”, or “No Go.” Following proper procedure, they returned to net frequency to await further instructions. It was time to get them a relay–someone located in a favorable QTH who could both hear and be heard by them.
“OKN FTX AS,” I replied. “Standby.” Then I called for a relay.
“Dah.” W4ABC responded.
I said, “QNB W3OKN N4FTX U 20.”
I heard three “dits” confirming that all three stations acknowledged my instructions for W4ABC to act as a relay for W3OKN and N4FTX. All three went up 20 kHz to try again.
Things were rolling along. The net had been in session for thirty five minutes. Everyone who had their traffic cleared had been “QNX” or excused from the net. Eight stations were currently passing traffic, or queued up waiting. I had had no new check-ins for ten minutes. I decided to officially close the net.
“QNC QRU EAN QNF TU GUD WRK ALL.” Translation: “Announcement. No traffic for Eastern Area Net. The Net is Free. Thank You. Good Work, Everyone.”
I remained on frequency for the next 15-20 minutes, excusing returning stations and thanking them individually. In the space of 55 or so minutes, we had collectively relayed 67 messages with 100 percent accuracy. Tomorrow evening a whole different group of Amateur operators would get together and do it all over again, as it’s done every day of the week, 365 days per year.
Happy Thanksgiving, EMA traffic handlers!
I wanted to share this Request For Information from the ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee, via Steve Ewald at ARRL Hq. VRC feels that more cooperation is needed between NTS and ARES programs. They are looking for input from Section Managers, Section Traffic Managers and Section Emergency Coordinators as to how this might occur.
Additionally, I invite comments from any NTS or ARES participants.
Phil Temples, K9HI
ARRL Section Manager,
Eastern Massachusetts Section
ARRL Section Managers,
The ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee has asked me to forward this letter to you.
Thank you very much for your help.
Dear Section Managers,
It has never been more important for the volunteers in ARRL’s
emergency communications programs to serve with professionalism and
excellence. During the past year, the Volunteer Resources Committee
has been studying the ARRL’s programs related to emergency
communications (see Minute 35, Board of Directors meeting, January
2002, March QST, page 64). This review was undertaken not only because
of the growing concern for homeland security following September 11,
2001, but also because of the ongoing need to ensure that Amateur
Radio responds effectively to disasters unrelated to terrorism —
floods, hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, hazardous materials
Several inter-related themes have emerged during the study. One is
that Amateur Radio must earn and maintain increased credibility with
served agencies, both nationally and at the local level. Another is
that Amateur Radio emergency communications volunteers must be more
actively involved in a variety of training experiences throughout the
year. Finally, although ARES and NTS are (and will continue to be)
structurally separate in your Section Field Organizations, these two
volunteer programs need to work more cooperatively, functioning as
part of one coherent emergency communications program at the Section
The VRC believes that both ARES and NTS are valuable programs, and so
we will propose no structural change at the Section Level. We are
convinced that more cooperation is needed, however.
Some Sections have achieved a high degree of functional integration
and cooperation between ARES and NTS. In other Sections, each may
operate as though the other did not exist. The VRC believes that close
cooperation between ARES and NTS, with mutual respect and pooling of
expertise, is the best way to serve agencies effectively and to earn
credibility as fully-skilled emergency communicators.
The VRC will recommend that leadership officials in both ARES and NTS
be strongly encouraged to achieve certification in the ARRL’s
Emergency Communications certification program. We will also recommend
that grass-roots volunteers be encouraged to pass at least the Level 1
certification. Along with the many other benefits of certification,
ARES and NTS operators will gain better understanding of and
appreciation for the value of both programs.
The VRC requests all Section Managers (in consultation with your SEC’s
and STM’s) and the three NTS Area Staff Chairmen to develop a vision
of how a closer working relationship can be effected between ARES and
Input from all Section Managers is needed, because Sections are very
different from one another.
1. If your Section has already brought ARES and NTS together quite
well, please describe how it is done, what problems may have arisen,
and how the problems were resolved. Your success stories will provide
ideas to other Section Managers.
2. If your Section’s ARES and NTS are functionally separate now,
you are asked to work with your SEC and STM to develop a plan for
bringing them into closer cooperation. Please describe your thought
process: what do you see as the major issues to be considered, the
important problems to be solved, and the major goals to be achieved?
Please post comments as soon as possible on the SM reflector. ARRL HQ
Staff will see that your input is relayed to the VRC, so it can be
considered as we prepare our report to the Board.
Thank you for working with us toward the goal of serving our
communities and our country to the best of Amateur Radio’s capability.