Category: Training

Lesson 3 – Pro Signs

Pro-Signs give diction to the net.  Proper use will promote discipline and maintain net continuity.   The following pro-signs will be obverved.

OVER:     Implies end of transmision, and a response is required.  Wait for the response.

OUT:        Implise end of transmission and a response is not required, put your microphone down

PLEASE WAIT:  Used to notify a  station to wait for a response

BREAK:   Will not be used in a Douglas County ARES Net.  This included double and triple breaks

PRIORITY:   Implies a message of a specific time duration or a message concerning the saftey of personnel.

EMERGENCY:   Implies a message of the utmost urgency or message concerning life or death of personnel.

Lesson 2 – Tactical Call Signs

Tactical Call Signs are often used in addition to your FCC call sign.   Tactical call signs are usually descriptive term that describes a function or location.   For instance Net Control is a tactical call sign.    There might be more than one person at the NCS location, so using that tactical call sign allows the location to be reached without necessarily know who exactly is acting as NCS.

In a community service net, Water Stop 3 or Repair Truck 1 could be possible Tactical Call Signs.   Within the Omaha Metro Medical Response System (OMMRS), the various hospital and other locations are used as Tactical Call Signs.   Methodist,  Bergan, Midlands, Poison, etc are used.   During SKYWARN nets, watch point locations are use.     All of these make communications easier as staffing changes occur and also allows everyone listening to the net to know the station’s assignment or location.

Tactical call signs are encouraged in ARES nets, but are used at the discretion of the Net Control Station.   Only the Net Control Station (NCS) may authorize a tactical designation be used as a call sign.   Once tactical call signs are assigned, stations should respond to that Tactical Call.

Remember you must still identify your stations using your FCC issued call sign.
This is easily accomplished by using your station call sign at the end of the exchange as you normally would.


“Net Control, Watch Point Alpha 7”
“Alpha 7, Net Control, go ahead”
“We have sustained winds out of the west at 40 miles per hour with gusts to 60 mph”
“Copy sustained winds of 40 mph with gust to 60 mph out of the west at Alpha 7, WØXYZ Net Control”
“KXØZZZ, Alpha 7”

The use of the tactical call sign, conveyed the location of the report, reducing the amount of information to be spoken.  FCC Call Signs are only used at the end of the exchange or every 10 minutes.     Tactical Call Signs enhance communications, they do not replace your station call sign.





Lesson 1 – Become Familiar

Become familiar with ARES procedures, both with on the air practice and off the air training.   Join in our nets to become a better net participant.  Through on the air practice as both a net member and an occaisional stint as net control, you will become the trained ARES amateur needed to be an asset to our served agencies.

Learn to listen carefully to what a net control may ask for.  Practice organizing your thoughts before transmitting. Make good use of air time.  Practice keeping your emergency communications transmissions to less than 15 seconds at a time.

Know your limitations and the limitations of your equipment.   While handheld radios have their place, a mobile radio with good antenna is preferable for ARES responses, especially for Severe Storm Spotting.  Be aware of how storms can attenuate your signal.

Learn patience.   Whether it is a severe weather net with a storm that keeps its own schedule, or in a disaster response when things are not going as planned.     During weather nets if you think you see something, be calm enough to report the initial sighing and patient enough to watch for it to persist.   Follow up on the status of any phenonema you reported.  NEVER leave a net or change positions during a net without informing net control of what you have or need to do.

Become familiar with procedures by listening, observing and participating.



Principles of Disaster Communications

Having an amateur radio license does not automatically make you an asset in a disaster.   Knowing how to use your radio, having the ability to stay on the air after an event, and taking the time to practice communications skills during drills and public service events will help you become a value when all else fails, and amateur radio is truly the only solution.

  • Keep the non-critical communications level down.
  • If you’re not sure you should transmit, don’t.
  • Study the situation by listening.
  • Don’t transmit unless you are sure you can help by doing so.
  • Don’t ever break into a net just to inform the control station you are there if needed.
  • Monitor established disaster frequencies.
  • On CW, SOS is universally recognized.
  • On voice, “MAYDAY” or “EMERGENCY” is universally recognized. – to avoid confusion do not use the term “Break” or “Break Break”
  • Avoid spreading rumors.
  • Authenticate all messages.
  • Strive for efficiency – Know what you want to say before you key the microphone
  • Select the mode and band to suit the need.