Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society (PCARS)


Emergency Operations Information for Operators

Volunteering for Service in South Brevard


There are many volunteers who come out in time of need and are willing to help, but often they may not have taken part in any emergency drills or training. Consequently, there can be a learning curve while they come up to speed with the techniques and protocols of the task at hand.


Below are some questions and answers to help prepare you for your volunteer service:


1.      During an emergency, who do we work for?


a.      We work for the following:

·        The people of Brevard County

·        The Office of Emergency Management

·        PCARS, HIARC, or your particular radio club.

·        BEARS


2.      Who the heck is BEARS?


a.      The Brevard Emergency Amateur Radio Service (BEARS) is made up of all of the radio clubs in Brevard County with 10 or more members.

b.      Each club has a representative who is in-turn a voting member of the BEARS organization.

c.      BEARS also includes MARS, CAP, the Brevard County Emergency Coordinator (EC) and the three assistant emergency coordinators.

d.      There are a total of about 14 organizations in BEARS.


3.      What about ARES & RACES?


a.      ARES and RACES are a combined effort supporting any emergency.  We fall primarily under ARES.

b.      NOTE: If you do not have an ARES photo ID badge, they are normally issued at the Melbourne Hamfest.  The county EC has the photo badge issuing equipment.


4.      What protection do you have working under BEARS?


a.      During an official declared emergency, you are usually covered under Workman’s Compensation. There may be a sign up requirement to qualify.

b.      There is also the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.  It does not protect you from being sued, but it is a defense if you are doing an appropriate job and doing it correctly.


5.      How are emergency operations in Brevard County organized?


a.      The county is divided into three areas or zones: North, Central, and South.

The AEC (Assistant EC) for South Brevard County reports to the  EC (county level) who reports to the District EC who in turn reports to the Section EC.

·        In this county the EC and DEC are one person based in the Cocoa / Rockledge area.

·        The DEC is responsible for both Brevard and Osceola counties.

·        The DEC reports to the Section EC who covers the South FL. ARRL Section.

b.      In each area one club has primary responsibility for that area:

·        North Brevard – Titusville ARC

·        Central Brevard – Indian River ARC

·        South Brevard - PCARS

c.      There are three assistant ECs for the county.  The club responsible for each area selects the EC for that area.  This individual is approved by the county EC for that position. For example, in south Brevard the PCARS EC was also nominated, accepted and appointed the South Brevard EC.

d.      Each of us in South Brevard works through our AEC, who in turn is responsible to the county EC.

e.      Our South Brevard AEC is tasked through BEARS from the Brevard County EOC.

f.        During an incident or drill the AEC will normally be the Net Manager.

g.      Each area is responsible for developing a plan which supports the activities in that area.  For example, what shelters must be supported, what repeater frequencies will be used, etc.


6.      What are my responsibilities as a volunteer radio operator?


a.      Personal:  Report when you are ready (e.g. Know your equipment, know your point of contact, bring 72hrs worth of clothes, food and as much 2 meter gear as you will need (to include antennas, cables, radios, power supplies and batteries).


Note: 72 hrs assumes that either you have made yourself available for this time period or that you may get stuck there due to the situation, prolonged storm etc. If you cannot commit for this period, then adjust your supplies pro rata.  Follow the directions of the designated senior operator if there is one available to work with you.


b.      Radio equipment: Ideally you should bring a 2-Meter FM mobile radio, power supply or charger, deep cycle battery and portable antenna with you.


Note: You are strongly advised against relying only on a hand held radio with a rubber duck type antenna.  You may not be able to communicate when inside some buildings and probably will be out of contact if it is necessary to operate in simplex mode due to repeater failure.  Preferably, use an HT only as an ancillary radio which can be used if you have to run an errand in a building and from which you “may” be able to communicate if you are lucky.


c.      Power connectors:  Anderson Power Pole connectors. (30 amp variety) are now the ARES and PCARS standard.  Have these installed on your power cables and equipment.  Having standard connectors on your equipment makes it much easier to mix and match with equipment supplied by the club or other emergency operators.


d.      Operating habits:


·        Report on time.

·        Do not leave radios unattended.

·        Do not leave a shelter without the approval or notification of the shelter manager and the Net Control Station.

·        Maintain a radio log and signed copies of all outgoing and incoming messages.

·        The last operator at the site is to turn over all records to the South Brevard AEC / Net Manager at end of event.

·        Note anything that affects communications in preparation for a post disaster action report.


7.      What are the Proper Operating Techniques and Procedures?


a.     All South Brevard area shelter communicators report to PCARS Net control on 146.850 MHz.

b.     PCARS Net controller reports to the EOC on 147.135MHz. (See handouts of net structures & tactical call-signs - both South and all Brevard, if available.  Otherwise this information will be made available by radio announcement)

c.      Nets will normally use Tactical call signs assigned by the South Brevard AEC / Net Manager (e.g. Eau Gallie High School-a shelter), Tactical call signs are approved by the FCC but use amateur radio call-sign at the end of each full transaction. Use your FCC call-sign until advised of your tactical call-sign.

d.     Frequencies:

·        The general emergency shelter net frequency for South Brevard is 146.850 MHz (PCARS W4MLB repeater on Harris Corp. tower in Palm Bay).  It should also be used to activate our South Brevard ARES emergency operations when any disaster situation occurs. 

·        Do not wait for a phone call.  Listen on 146.850 when an emergency threatens.

·        If 146.850 MHz is not operating:

o       Listen on 146.610 MHz to see if the net is operating on that repeater. 

o       If the net is not operating on 146.610 MHz, return to 146.850 MHz and try to make contact using simplex mode.  Net control will advise in simplex mode the action to be taken.

o       If you do not receive instructions from the net control within ten minutes, go to the 146.610 repeater.


e.     Net Discipline:

·        Leave space for a break-in station between transmissions.

·        Do not talk to anyone but net control unless authorized by net control. For example, if you need to contact another shelter for information, call net control and ask permission to contact the other shelter.

·        Use your tactical callsign to interrupt on-going communications.  For example, just as you would normally use your callsign to break into ongoing communications, instead state the tactical callsign, like “BCC Shelter.” 

·        If you are not at a tactical location, use your amateur call.

·        Use the word “BREAKONLY if you have an EMERGENCY

·        Know and use the International (IATA) Phonetic alphabet and standard procedural words. e.g. “Roger”, “negative”, “affirmative”, “copy” etc.

·        Do NOT use “ten codes” e.g. 10-4. Or “Q” codes e.g. “QSL” when using voice transmissions.

·        Maintain net discipline.

·        Report in to Net control when called by net control for a radio check if nothing is happening at your location. Normally this is done hourly at the beginning of the hour.  Or, call at one hour intervals, if not called by 5 minutes past each hour.

·        Take advantage of dead time to learn ARRL RADIOGRAM Format. (a course is available)

·        If there is a senior operator available at your location, he is there to teach as well as direct. If you learned it somewhere else differently, don’t try to use it here.  Follow our procedures.

·        If you are receiving deliberate interference, notify Net Control. Do not respond or reply to the interfering station.

·        Do NOT be offended if you are corrected by the NCS or Net Manager for minor infringements e.g. for saying 10-4 or QSL etc.  This is part of your training to be a better and more proficient operator.



AB4ET 4 Aug 2005