Category: Training

Spotter Training Update

At this time, the Douglas County Spotter Talk is still scheduled for Tuesday March 26, 7pm – 9pm
The training will be held at Elkhorn South High School, 20303 Blue Sage Pkwy, Omaha, NE  

The following spotter talks have been CANCELLED

March 21 – Colfax County
March 25 – Boone County
March 27 – Dodge County
March 28 – Sarpy County

Check the NWS Site for information on additional spotter training

DATE CHANGE!!! Siren Test Volunteer Sign Ups Are Now Being Accepted

The Annual Douglas County Visual Siren Test Cancelled on Saturday March 23rd  Possibly to be held on  March 30th.

With all the flooding in the region, Douglas County EMA has of course been busy and will continue to be.    – IF there is a siren test, it will not be March 23rd, it is still quite tentative on March 30th.


This exercise is to place a radio operator at each siren location to observe it during activation.  This will confirm that it is rotating as expected, that the siren is sounding properly and that it is in good repair.    With more than 100 sirens in Douglas County all available hams are needed.      This year there will be only be two soundings.  The first one at 11:00 am, and the second at 11:30 am.     If everything goes off as scheduled the net should be secured by 12:00 noon.     This is a great event for your first volunteer experience or just getting back into the community service arena!    You don’t have to be registered with ARES to participate.

Sign up now to help with the 2019 Douglas County Siren Test at the link below.


Winter Field Day

Winter Field Day, sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA) , and takes place the last full weekend in January.  For 2019 that will be Janurary  26th and 27th.   

“Don’t let those winter doldrums keep you locked up in the house,” the WFDA says. “Get out and play some radio!” The WFDA said it believes that maintaining operating skills should not be limited to fair-weather scenarios.   

There are three entry categories — indoor, outdoor, and home. The rule are similar to those for ARRL Field Day. Operation will take place on all HF bands except 12, 17, 30, and 60 meters, as well as on VHF, UHF, and satellite. The event runs 24 hours. Starting at 1:00 pm CDT on Saturday and running to 1:00 pm on Sunday.   US and Canadian stations exchange call sign, operating category, and ARRL or RAC section.

The Omaha Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) will be participating in Winter Field Day from the local EDS building at 10629 Burt Circle and invites all interested amateur radio operators to participate with them.     At this point everything is still in the planning phase, but so far the plan is to operate as in the Indoor category with at least 2 HF stations one voice station and one digital stations.  The stations will run off of generator and battery power.      Hours of operation will depend on band conditions and the number of participants to work those late night hours.   

If you’d like to participate send an email to 

FM Hand Held Radio Front Panel Programming

It’s happened or will happen to every amateur radio operator who’s been involved in public service or emergency communications for a while: you get to the drill or event site and your radio isn’t programmed correctly.  You find out the repeater you’ll be using has a CTCSS tone to access it now, or you have the wrong offset, or you don’t even have that frequency in your radio.   NOW WHAT???

With new feature rich radios many of us do not know how to program a radio without a laptop and programming cable, but in the field you may not always have access to those things.    To help use be better able to communicate in those situations,  SATERN will be hosting a “Hand Held Front Panel Programming” class.    – You do not have to be registered with ARES or SATERN to attend.

The class will be held Saturday, February 9th at 1:00 pm at the Salvation Army EDS building at 10629 Burt Circle in Omaha.    So that we are better prepared to assist you, you will need to bring your HT with a fully charged battery and the radio’s manual.    We also ask that you register at this link and let us know that you will be coming :

DO NOT BRING THE PROGRAMMING CABLE OR SOFTWARE!  We will not be assisting with computer programming of the radio.

We will go over

  • setting frequencies
  • setting repeater offset and direction
  • setting squelch tones
  • writing to a memory
  • selecting a memory
  • locking and unlocking the radio
  • adjusting volume and squelch

Because of special requirements for P25, DMR, D-Star, Fusion and other digital modes, we will only be covering standard analog FM programming for your radios for this session.

Basic Deployment Checklist

When responding to an emergency event or even a training exercise. There is a minimum set of equipment and personal gear you should bring with you to get the job done.   Some of those basic items include:

2 Meter HT* Identification
2 Meter Mag Mount antenna and coax* Extra Batteries for Radio
Ear phones/ headset Appropriate clothing
Paper and Pencil Food and Water
*dual band radios and antennas are prefered

The majority of these items should be kept in a “go-bag” so you can just pick it up on the way out of the door for deployment.

Basic Deployment Equipment Checklist

When responding to an emergency event, or even a training exercise, there is a minimum set of equipment
and personal gear you should bring with you to get the job done. Basic items include:
 2-meter hand-held
 2-meter mag-mount antenna and coax
 Earphone
 Paper and pencil
 ARES ID card
 Extra batteries
 Appropriate clothing
 Food and water
The majority of these items should be kept in a “Ready Kit.” Just pick it up on your way out the door for deployment.

Amateur Radio Disaster Preparedness

You must make sure you’re personally prepared for a disaster before you can even consider helping with Amateur Radio. If you are preoccupied with personal matters, you won’t be able to help us. To be ready for disaster communications, do the following:

  • Register with your local ARES group.
    • This registration helps the ARES leadership know the number of potential volunteers and their capabilities should we be called up on to provide communications services.
  • Train regularly with your local ARES group.
    • How you train today, determines how you perform tomorrow.  Attending training, participating in ARES nets, and community service activities help you lean how to be a good communicator when there are fewer distractions.  During emergency and disaster responses, the familiarity of the net routine will help keep the frequencies and communications clear.
    • Being known to your ARES leadership is also important.   They will be making decisions as to what your assignments are.   The more familiar they are with your level of training and other skill sets, the better fit can be made.
  • Have a personal/family disaster plan.
    • If you are distracted by your home situation, you will not be a valuable asset during a response.   Take care of your own first!
  • Have all resource materials you need in printed form.
    • Don’t depend on downloading your radio manual or ID from the internet.  Computers, smart phones, etc may not work during a disaster, they require electricity for charging and are relatively fragile.
  •  Practice doing things such as calling nets and handling traffic the pencil-and-paper way once in a while. Remember, you are you may not be able to spare the amp-hours or the table space to run a computer.
  • Have an Amateur Radio “go-kit” ready to supplement your personal “go kit”.
  • Upgrade your license.
    •  Many disaster communications assignments require HF privileges to move messages in and out of the disaster area.

ICS for Amateur Radio

On Thursday April 26, at 7:00 pm Metro/Douglas County ARES and the Omaha Metropolitan Medical Response Communications Training Committee will host a training overview on the Incident Command System and how it applies to Amateur Radio Communications Volunteers.   This training will not replace the  FEMA  IS-100.b online course  but it will give you a basis for understanding the system that we will be asked to work within.  If you have taken the IS-100.b , this program will help explain how amateur radio fits into the plan.

The Class will be held at Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Building at 10629 Burt Circle in Omaha.   The building will open at 6:45 pm and the course will start at 7:00 pm.

To ensure that we have materials and seating  available for everyone who wants to attend, we asked that you sign up so we know you are coming:

Amateur Radio and the Incident Command System Registration

Please note, that all ARES Volunteers, should have the following FEMA Independent Study Courses:

If you have taken an early version, you do not need to take the newer version.

No one is compelled to take these courses, however many of the agencies we work with required these courses for the employees and volunteers.  You may not be able to help if you have not taken these courses.  Make sure you save the certificate when you have completed them.   These same agencies may require additional training (example, to be placed, storm spotters need to have completed the annual training at least every two years)





Be Ready to Report

Amateur radio nets are intended to facilitate orderly communications.   The procedures might vary depending on what kinds of net that it is and the net control is operating the net.  A swap net will have different procedures to check in and share information than will an emergency response or training net.

But no matter what type of net, no matter what type of information you are sharing, you need to be ready with the following information. Ideally the net control station or anyone else on the net will not have any questions.    The details may vary, but these questions should be answered within your announcement:    Who, What, When and Where.

For instance you would probably never check in to the swap net and list an item for sale without giving the information about what the item is, its condition, how much you would like for the item, and how and when any potential buyer can reach you to complete the purchase.

But often you will hear announcements during nets that the operator giving out the information does not have the details on an event.  It’s nice to know share that a local radio club is having a flea market, but without the date, time and location, the information is not worth much.   Take a few minutes before the net to get the details to share.

During a SKYWARN net, it is very important that you take a moment to collect your thoughts and be ready to report when Net Control has acknowledge you, then give the following information:

  • Who you are.
  • What you are seeing. (with appropriate details for the event)
  • Where you are seeing it.
  • When you saw it.

It is not practical to give examples on every scenario you might encounter so take a moment to make sure you have all the information before keying the mic.

Net Control Basics

The Net Control Station (NCS) is in charge of the net. This person controls the flow of messages according to priority and keeps track of where messages come from and where they go.     The NCS also keeps a current list of which stations are where, their assignments and what capabilities they have. In a busy situation, the NCS may have one or more assistants to help with record keeping.

The ARRL Operating Manual suggests some recommended traits in a NCS.

  • Be the boss but don’t be bossy
  • Be punctual
  • Know the area the net is taking place in
  • Keep your antenna and equipment in good operating condition
  • Keep a log of every net session
  • Understand how to prioritize communications traffic

Communication is affected by numerous factors including personal operating skills, method of communication, noise or interference, skills of net participants and adequate  resources. The most important skills of communication are those possessed by the Net Control Station.

    Listening is at least 50% of communication. Listening means avoiding unnecessary transmission. A wise ham once said, “A ham has two ears and one mouth. Therefore a good ham should listen twice as much as he/she talks.
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