CCAR Emergency Operations Plan and Operator's Guide

Mission Statement

Chester County ARES/RACES provides emergency communications for Chester County Department of Emergency Services (CCDES) from any location within Chester County to locations designated by CCDES. Chester County ARES/RACES also provides communications assistance to other agencies based on coordinated cooperative arrangements with neighboring counties following a request made through CCDES. Registered FCC-licensed amateur radio operators provide 2-way voice and digital communications services on a volunteer basis.

It is the responsibility of individual volunteers to prepare themselves and their personal equipment to provide reliable communications within two hours of activation and be self-sustaining at field assignments for periods up to 72 hours. CCAR provides emergency communications training for its members. CCAR will operate in compliance with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency RACES operational plan, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Section ARES Emergency Plan.

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FM Repeater System

The West Chester W3EOC 446.525 FM repeater coverage prediction for mobile stations

The Bucktown W3EOC 446.175 FM coverage prediction for mobile stations


Amateur radio has a long and proud heritage of helping in times of need and you are continuing the tradition. Thank you for being a generous and community-minded ham who will serve when the situation turns tough. Congratulations, welcome, and thanks for joining our team. You are essential.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) consists of licensed amateur radio operators who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur is eligible for membership. The only qualification, other than an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. The possession of emergency-powered radio equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement.

However, and especially since 9-11, the days are gone where untrained hams are welcome to participate along with professional responders in emergency incidents. There is a role for everyone with the right attitude and mindset. However, your training, certifications, experience, and your performance in exercises and events will determine the assignments for which you qualify. Therefore, you have some learning to do, and some skills to acquire that go beyond what routine ham radio operation can teach.

Increasingly, emcomm organizations like CCAR are adopting the model of the volunteer fire company. A measure of dedication and commitment is required for our Rapid Response Teams and lead operators. We understand that not everyone can commit to the same level, so, like a volunteer fire organization, there are roles in CCAR for everyone willing to give what they can.


Like a volunteer fire company, a good ARES/RACES organization is all about training. It is what we do—almost all the time—in order to be ready for real incidents.

Emergency communicators with experience know that normal amateur radio operating skills are not enough in an emergency. Developing the right attitude is paramount. Training and certification are necessary to execute our mission and to maintain the respect of our government sponsors and served agencies. The ARRL has set a standard for the training of amateur radio emcomm volunteers with their three-level emergency communications courses and certifications. CCAR has adopted the Level I Emergency Communications Certification as the standard for active member knowledge and skill. Acquiring that certification is your first goal.

Beyond that, we encourage continuous personal improvement through ARRL, PEMA and FEMA on-line training courses, self-study and practice. CCAR maintains an active training program of courses, workshops, nets, seminars, exercises and public service events. The CCAR Training Officer is your contact to learn more about training opportunities.


This book intends to cover only the essentials of the CCAR Emergency Operating Plan and primary information for the field operator. Supplementary reference material, standard operating procedures, and organizational information are set aside for other documents. Consider the material here to be “basic knowledge” needed and expected of all CCAR operators serving the Chester County Department of Emergency Services and the citizens of Chester County.

EMERGENCY Communications

What is an emergency? An incident, by definition of the ICS (Incident Command System) manual, is any “planned or unplanned occurrence or event, regardless of cause, which requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources.”

What is a communications emergency? Generally, any time conventional or commercial communications are disrupted or overloaded by an incident, there is a communications emergency. The public service networks owned and maintained by Chester County and local municipalities may or may not be disrupted. If a communications emergency occurs, ARES/RACES may be activated to relieve pressure on emergency management networks for higher-priority traffic, or to replace non-operating circuits.

The specifications of an effective emergency communication service depend on the nature of the information that must be communicated. Pre-disaster plans and arrangements for emergency/disaster communications include:

The result of this process is our Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). CCAR’s sponsor and served agency is Chester County Department of Emergency Services (CCDES). As the coordinating agency for all incidents that elevate beyond the means of local municipalities, our affiliation with this branch of County government allows our teams to deploy for CCDES directly--as well as for municipalities, other agencies and non-governmental organizations. All deployments are at the request of CCDES. We are their resource. We are not first responders and generally operate outside of “hot zones”, but often within secure areas. Our role is to provide backup communications wherever necessary.

The pre-planned types of communications we train for are:

The principal goals of good emergency communications are:

Nets during an Activation

Tactical Net

The Tactical Net is the primary net in an ARES/RACES emcomm operation. In Chester County, this net is always set up on one of the CCAR primary frequencies (see the Standard Communications Plan). It is a controlled net with a Net Control Station (NCS) and an Alternate NCS. We pass tactical traffic on this net as needed, along with coordinating information and information broadcasts. Formal written traffic may also be passed if the net is not too busy, at the NCS’s discretion. If busy, the NCS will direct you to pass formal traffic on a secondary simplex or repeater frequency. The NCS will take roll calls of all stations in the net every half hour as traffic permits, to insure all stations are available and accounted for. Stations that need to leave the net should inform the NCS, if possible.

Resource Net

The Resource Net is used when there is a need for many operators in an incident. In a large incident, County and Municipal EOCs will be in operation, along with Red Cross Chapters, shelters, hospitals, and more. If the tactical net were busy, operators would be told to convene on an alternate frequency where the Resource Net is operating. From here, emergency managers will select operators for assignment to travel and serve where they are most needed. The Resource Net also tracks operators while they are moving, for safety and security. The Resource Net is a controlled net with an NCS and an Alternate NCS. It is set up on a standard frequency, which the NCS announces frequently on the Tactical Net.

CCAR Activation – How will I know?

First, you must be a registered CCAR operator and have met the minimum training requirements in order to be on the notification list. Impromptu, untrained volunteers are extremely difficult to integrate into an already confusing emergency response. Impromptu, uncertified volunteers will be used in extreme situations, and then they should be paired with a trained, experienced operator.


The entire plan is detailed in SOP1—CCAR Activation (see CCAR Standard Operating Procedures). Each CCAR member should know the plan and follow it closely. The plan was developed in detail, and then reduced to a checklist that both CCDES and CCAR officers can keep nearby at all times. It details the circumstances under which activation might occur, who does what, and the various methods used for contact. Your CCAR registration information is the main ingredient in this plan, and the accuracy of the information you provide is important. It must be verified frequently and is updated annually as you re-register.

The ARRL Section ARES and Pennsylvania RACES operate under the “lead agency” principle. This means that CCAR, as a local organization operating under both banners, responds to requests from the agency that has the authority under local, county or state legislation to provide the lead in response to an emergency or disaster. In Chester County, this is CCDES. By following this guideline, amateur radio resources are coordinated where emergency management officials are in the best position to prioritize communications needs and decide any conflicts for resources. Thus, CCAR is activated by the authorized CCAR official at the request of
the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, or another agency, which has requested CCAR assistance through CCDES.

“The authorized CCAR official” means the Emergency Coordinator (EC), the RACES Officer (RO), or an officer who is designated to act if the EC or RO are not available.

One or more CCAR officers will receive a request from the Director, Deputy Director of CCDES, or 911 Supervisor on duty by pager, telephone or other means. Once a request is received, we use a combination of methods to alert members. These include:

If you should become aware of an incident or communications emergency, you should contact a CCAR officer to ensure that CCAR leadership is aware of the situation. Take steps to make yourself available. Monitor the primary CCAR frequencies. CCAR members must not self-deploy or respond to a request from any agency unless an authorized CCAR official has announced activation. If you are not specifically authorized to contact served agency personnel, do not do it.

I have been notified – now what?

Remember—your first obligation is to your family. That obligation may make you unavailable for deployment. (If so, stay home, check in from there and assist as able.) Contact your spouse, children or other family members to let them know what is happening and where you will be. Give them any instructions they will need to be safe. Tell them when you will next try to contact them, and how they may contact you if necessary. Knowing that everyone is OK can let you do your job without needless worry, and, of course, the same is true for them.

Next, check into the Resource Net on one of the primary CCAR frequencies. This will initially be on a linked repeater system. Register your availability and answer any questions NCS asks. The first person signing in should act as NCS temporarily until an assigned NCS checks in. Please see the latest CCAR Standard Communication Plan for current frequency information. If you are unable to check in by radio, call the RACES room at 610-344-5034 or 610-344-4445.

Maintain a watch on the Resource Net while you tend to last-minute preparations for possible deployment. Depending on the current activation response level, you may have time for additional preparations, or not. The activation response levels and your appropriate actions are:

Level 1 (Standby--deployment is possible) – you should check your equipment and ensure you have adequate emergency power and a 72-hour preparedness kit. Fill your vehicle with fuel, pick up any supplies you may need, such as alkaline batteries, food, water and anything missing from your checklist.

Level 2 (Alert--deployment is likely without further notice) – you should load equipment for transport and check all items not previously readied. You may be asked to move to a Marshaling Center, a site set up to process volunteers or issue credentials and stage volunteers for assignments. You may need to wait for an assignment, and this may take some time, especially if the situation is confused. Often, the development of the response to an emergency is unclear and it takes time to develop a cohesive and uniform response plan. You should expect the situation to be fluid. Each incident is unique, and you should respond accordingly. Be prepared to wait patiently.

In other cases, such as the immediate aftermath of a tornado, earthquake, plane or train crash, you must make arrangements as you go. Travel may be difficult or impossible, so you may need to do what you can, where you can. Nets may be established on an ad-hoc basis using whatever means are available. Be flexible and be aware.

Level 3 (Deployment—operators are dispatched to assigned sites or a Marshalling Center) – Listen for your station to be called on the Resource Net. You will receive specific instructions from the NCS. Maintain contact with the Resource NCS as you travel to your assignment and sign off the net only after you arrive. Follow NCS instructions.

Some members may have specific or standing assignments, including making contact with a specific served agency or hospital, going directly to a specific location, or making certain preparations. If this is the case, you must still check into the Resource Net and keep managers aware of your progress and whereabouts.

The Resource Net NCS should also provide talk-in assistance if you are having trouble locating your assigned location or contact person.

Upon Arrival

Once your station is on the air, begin to work on other needs:

As soon as possible ask a member of the site’s staff to discuss their operational needs. What are the critical needs? Whom do they need to communicate with, and what sort of information will need to be sent and received? Short tactical messages or long lists? Will any messages be too confidential for radio? Will message needs change at different times of day? What hours will the site operate, or how long will it operate? Will there be staff changes?

You should also provide the staff with basic information on how to create a message, show them how to use message forms, and instruct them on basic procedures. Be sure to let them know that their communications will not be private and “secure” if sent by voice modes of Amateur Radio, and discuss possible alternatives.

Ending Operations

Operations may end all at once, or be phased out over time. Several factors may be involved:

How you are notified to end operations will depend upon the policies of the served agency and the specific situation. Even though a shelter manager has been told to shut down by the agency, your orders may normally come from a different person who may not be immediately aware of the shelter’s closing. You should check with the NCS before closing station. Once the decision to close your station has been received and verified, be sure to notify the person in charge of your location.

File and package all messages, logs, and other paperwork and turn them over to the person in charge at your location. Keep your notes for debriefing. Return any borrowed equipment or materials. Remove antennas and equipment, taking care to package and store it well.

Leave the space you used in as good a condition as possible. Clean up well, remove trash, and put away furniture or equipment back where it was when you arrived. If you removed personal desktop items from a desk and put them in a sealed box for safekeeping, simply place the box back on the cleaned desk. Do not attempt to replace the items on the desk. This provides proof to the desk’s owner that you took steps to protect their belongings, and helps keep them secure until the owner can take possession again. If tamper-evident tape or similar seals were placed by an agency, do not remove them unless told to do so by an authorized person.

Thank all who worked with you. Even a simple verbal “thanks” goes a long way. Do not forget the building’s owners or staff, the served agency staff, and other emcomm personnel. This is also the time for any apologies. If things did not always go well, or if damage was caused, do your best to repair the relationship before departing.


After each operation, your CCAR officers and CCDES will want to hold a critique meeting to review what went well, and what did not. There may be issues that occurred that you will want to discuss. If you try to rely entirely on your memory or logs, you will probably forget key details of even certain events altogether. To prevent this, keep a separate “debriefing list” specifically for an after-action report or a debriefing meeting. Note things like time, date, and details of what happened, what was accomplished, unfinished items, things that need improvement, ideas to make things better, key events, conflicts and resolutions. Present your information by organizing it by a) what went well and b) what can improve.

The CCAR Emergency Plan

Coverage Area and Type of Support

CCAR provides back-up communications support within the boundaries of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and wherever deployed by CCDES. The type of support includes but is not limited to the following:
  1. Back-up 9-1-1 Call Taking at all County Fire Stations
  2. Tactical and formal written messages, data and radio email at:

Emergency Situations

CCAR provides or supplements communications during emergencies where normal communication systems have sustained damage or are overloaded. We may be used in a wide variety of situations, including but not limited to:

Standard Communication Plan

The standard CCAR emergency communications plan is in Tables 1 and 2. It identifies the network used to provide each type of support, the operating frequency, mode of operation, and the network control station for each network. This plan may be modified or replaced as the Incident Commander orders, but this plan will be used in the absence of any such ordered plan.

Table 1. FM and SSB Voice Circuits

NET Primary Secondary Tertiary



Resource Net



147.060+ 131.8

Newtown Sq


145.130- 131.8



146.985- 100.0






Tactical Net


446.525- 100.0



146.940- 131.8




HOTEL-1 3.917

HOTEL-2 3.965

HOTEL-3 5.3305

HOTEL-4 7.240



“TacNet North”


446.175- 100.0



147.21+ 131.8







“TacNet South”


448.875- 100.0



146.985- 100.0






Out-of-Area Liaison

INDIA-1 3.9875

INDIA-2 3.9935

INDIA-3 7.2545

INDIA-4 7.2505


443.800+ 131.8

Valley Forge






Command Net








Data Circuits

Current on-air RMS packet gateway stations are listed at
The current public HF RMS frequency list is at
The current EmComm HF RMS frequency list is at
Additional temporary gateways will be deployed if needed.

Table 2. Data Circuits

Call Sign Frequency Location Note




1200b pac RMS gateway



W Chester

1200b pac RMS gateway



Hershey Mill

1200b pac RMS gateway



Delaware Co.

1200b pac RMS gateway



Newark, DE

1200b pac RMS gateway



Reiffton, Berks Co.

1200b pac RMS gateway



Neshaminy, Bucks Co.

1200b pac RMS gateway



W Chester

Pactor 1,2 RMS gateway



W Chester

Pactor 1,2 RMS gateway



W Chester

Pactor 3 RMS gateway



W Chester

Pactor 3 RMS gateway



W Chester

Pactor 3 RMS gateway


1299.400 RPS


D-Star DD gateway


1297.800 RPS


D-Star DD gateway

The Rapid Response Team (RRT)

In the first minutes of an emergency, it is important to get the basic elements of a communications network on the air quickly. It takes time for emergency managers to assess a situation, determine needs, organize resources and put them in place. The solution is the Rapid Response Team or RRT. An RRT is a small team within a larger emcomm group. Their job is to put a few strategically placed stations on the air within the first half-hour to hour, allowing time for managers to acquire and plan additional help. These stations are usually at the Chester County EOC, Resource and Tactical Net control stations, and a few field teams. This is called the Level 1 RRT response.

A Level 2 RRT response follows within a few hours, bringing additional resources and operators. Level 1 teams have pre-assigned jobs, and short-term (12-24 hour) go-kits ready to go when the call comes. Level 2 teams have 72-hour go-kits and a variety of other equipment, possibly including tents, portable repeaters, food and water supplies, sleeping gear, spare radios, generators and batteries.

CCAR’s Rapid Response Team operations are described in a separate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

ARES Mutual Assistance Team (ARESMAT)

The ARESMAT concept recognizes that a neighboring section’s ARES resources can be quickly overwhelmed in a large incident. ARES members in the affected areas may be preoccupied with mitigation of their own personal situations and therefore not able to respond to local activations. Accordingly, emcomm support must come from ARES personnel outside the affected areas. ARESMAT teams are pre-prepared for dispatch to distant areas for service. CCAR maintains a roster of qualified members as a special ARESMAT team. Member qualifications are:

Rules of Thumb

It is impossible to list the exact rules that will cover every situation. Emcomm operators may benefit, however, from certain rules of thumb during any exercise or a real disaster. These rules are part of your Level 1 training, but we present them here because they are valuable review material for all.

Overall, keep the proper attitude. You will be a shining example of what Amateur Radio is about to your community and to CCAR’s served agency. Therefore, your conduct should be “professional”—to be courteous, considerate, effective, and to rise above the situation. Watch your ego, and do not bruise someone else’s. On the other hand, don’t take comments others may offer personally. Be an essential part of the team, not a “hero.” Respect authority. Manage your stress. The only thing “Amateur” about us is our name and that is because we do it out of love, not compensation. If things are not going well at the moment, it is not a failure. It is delayed success. Remember that things are not supposed to go right in a real emergency. Focus on the task and pull it off.

You are not a "first responder." Except in rare cases of serendipity, you will seldom be first on the scene. You do not need flashing lights and sirens, gold badges, or fancy uniforms. In most cases beyond reporting the situation to the proper authorities, hams have little usefulness as communicators at the onset of an emergency.

You have no authority. In most cases, you cannot make decisions for others, or make demands on the agency you serve or any other agency. The only decisions you can make are whether to participate or not, and those affecting your own health and safety.

You are not in charge. You are there to fulfill the needs of an agency whose communication system is temporarily unable to do its job. They tell you what they need, and you do your best to comply.

You cannot do it all. When the agency you are helping runs short of doctors, cooks, drivers or traffic cops, it is not your job to fill the void. In most cases, you are not trained for it. However, you can lend a hand to fill an urgent need when you are qualified to do so, or perform other jobs for the served agency of which communication is an integral part, and for which you are trained and capable. Do not over commit.

Prepare well. There is no substitute for preparation. When you do not know when the call will come, the time to prepare is now. This is what we do—prepare and train. Do not neglect it, or you diminish your usefulness to the team, to CCDES and to the citizens.

Assemble and maintain your go-kit. Test it, package it for easy transport, and continuously refine it. Keep it conveniently located and ready to go. Minimum essentials: ID cards, credentials and FCC license. Three days of cash (enough for food, gas and hotel). Your pre-programmed portable 25+ watt dual-band FM rig and portable antenna with long-term battery. 100’ of coax. Headphones. Dual-band FM HT with aftermarket whip antenna (leave the rubber duck home). A durable emergency twinlead j-pole antenna with antenna rope or portable mast. Spare batteries. Adapters. SO-239 Barrel adapters. Duct tape. Tools. Notebook, pen, clipboard. Flashlight. ADC Chester County map book. Compass/GPS. Copy of the current Communications Plan (frequencies). PRE-PROGRAM your radios to the plan. Message forms. Hat. Food, water and personal medications for 72 hours. Portable chair. Printer, paper, ink.

Keep the QRM down. In a disaster, many of the most crucial stations will be weak in signal strength. It is essential that all other stations remain silent unless called. If you are not sure you should transmit, don’t. Do not transmit unless you are sure you can help by doing so. Do not break into an emergency net just to inform the NCS that you are available. Study the situation by listening. An old timer once said, “A ham has two ears and one mouth. Therefore he should listen twice as much as he talks.”

Make your transmissions crisp and professional. Emulate police and fire dispatchers, or air traffic controllers. Think, jot down your message, then transmit using as little air time as necessary. Plan your transmission as if you know you will be quoted. Use standard pro-words, the ITU Phonetic Alphabet, plain language and NO Q-signals, or jargon. Practice.

Use accepted net protocols. In a directed net, do not call and check in until the NCS asks for checkins. Despite what MARS teaches, and what is accepted on many informal nets, saying “this is…” and unkeying before your call wastes time and does only a little to prevent doubles. When everyone does this, tactical nets become ponderous. Occasional doubles are unavoidable, and the NCS will sort it out.

Use your assigned tactical call sign, and identify legally. Tactical calls identify a location during an event—regardless of who is operating. Tactical calls allow you to contact a location without knowing the FCC call of the operator. This eliminates confusion at shift changes and where multiple operators man a station. Say your legal call instead of saying “clear” in an emergency net, and every ten minutes in a prolonged exchange. This practice meets FCC requirements and at the same time efficiently tells everyone your station is “clear” the frequency. Do not over identify. There is no reason to ever say the FCC call sign of another station in an emergency net.

Make your best signal. Besides using a good rig, antenna and appropriate power, operate your station for good audio. Speak close to your mic; talk across it, not into it. Set your mic gain or speak up for full deviation. Articulate your words and do not slur.

If the repeater goes down continue to monitor the output frequency for a simplex net. Also, check other repeaters and the tactical net tertiary frequency for activity (see the communications plan).

Understand ICS and NIMS. You should know the terminology and concepts of the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System. These are the systems under which our sponsor and all first responder groups operate. They define the environment in which CCAR operates. You need to know this to understand what is going on in the midst of the chaos. Sign up for a readily available free course.

Avoid spreading rumors. During and after an incident, especially on the phone bands, you may hear almost anything. Unfortunately, much misinformation is transmitted. Rumors are started by expansion, deletion, amplification and modification of words, exaggeration or interpretation. In an emergency situation, with everyone’s nerves on edge, it is little short of criminal to make a statement on the air without foundation in authenticated fact.

Authenticate all messages. Every message that purports to be official should be written and signed. Whenever possible, amateurs should avoid initiating disaster or emergency traffic themselves. We are the messengers; the agency officials we serve supply the content of the communications.

Say “this is a drill,” often during drills. Begin and end all formal messages with this, especially when sending simulated priority or emergency messages.

Strive for efficiency. Whatever happens in an emergency, you will find hysteria and some amateurs who feel they must be “sleepless heroes.” Instead of operating your station full time at the expense of your health and efficiency, it is better to serve a shift at one of the best-located and best-equipped stations, suitable for the work at hand, manned by relief shifts of the best-qualified operators.

Use all (not just amateur) communication channels intelligently. While the prime object of emcomm is to save lives and property, Amateur Radio is a secondary communications means; normal channels are primary and should be used if available. Amateur radio may not be the best or only means of communicating. Remember that our job is to get the message through, regardless of the means.

Do not “broadcast.” Some amateur operators in an emergency have a tendency to emulate broadcast techniques. While it is true that the public may be listening, our transmissions are not well equipped to perform such a service. Our job is to communicate for, not with the public.

Be sensitive to privacy and security. You do not know who is listening. Refer all press inquiries to the CCDES Public Information Officer (PIO), unless otherwise authorized. Do not speculate. Never include individual names of third parties, phone or account numbers, frequencies or repeater control codes in messages or transmissions by voice or other easily decoded mode. Be sensitive and compassionate when fatalities occur and choose words carefully. Be aware that amateur radio channels may not be appropriate to use--at all.

You ARE going to get frustrated. Count on it. Remember we are assisting our agency to restore order from chaos. Chaos is a hard enemy to fight. When you get tired or overwhelmed, it is a GOOD thing to let your team leader or NCS know and they will get you a break. Being tired and frustrated only leads to mistakes and adds to the chaos.

Keep personal safety top priority. “Watch out for number one because no one else will.” If an assignment concerns you, decline it. Survey every operating position for two exits. Should one become unavailable, use the other—IMMEDIATELY. If necessary, leave your equipment. It can be replaced.

Your second priority is the safety of your team. If you have an operating partner, or if you become aware of a threat to fellow operators, watch out for them. They will be doing the same for you.

Your third priority is your mission. Your assignment can only be accomplished after your safety and the safety of your team is ensured. If the safety of you or anyone becomes an issue, speak up. Notify your leader or NCS, and leave the danger area immediately.


Formal Written Messages and “Traffic Handling”

A formal message is more likely to be delivered with its meaning intact than verbal comments. Using a standard format for formal messages makes it easier and faster for both sending and receiving stations to handle. Not every situation requires a formal message, but where the accuracy of specific information is critical, the formal written message is the best method.

Officials of a served agency normally originate messages, but if you have appropriate training, you may be authorized to originate messages. Whenever possible, you should work with a message’s author to create a clear text using the minimum number of words.

The ARRL Radiogram is a format universally used by amateurs, and it forms a basis for adapting traffic handling to any other format our agency might use. All radiograms should have the following parts in the following order:

  1. Preamble
    • Number
    • Precedence (R, W, P or EMERGENCY)
    • Handling Instructions (optional)
    • Station of Origin (first amateur handler)
    • Check (number of words/groups in text only)
    • Place of Origin (not necessarily the location of station)
      >li>Time Filed (optional except if an EMERGENCY)
    • Date (must agree with time filed)
  2. Address
    • As complete as possible to allow delivery, include zip and telephone number.
  3. Text
    • Limit to 25 words or less, if possible.
  4. Signature
    • The author’s name and title.


This immediately follows the message number. On phone, “Two Zero, routine.”

EMERGENCY — The message has life or property loss urgency and is being transmitted in the absence of other commercial communication facilities. This includes official messages of relief agencies during emergencies requesting supplies, materials or instructions vital to a stricken populace. The designation is always spelled out entirely.

PRIORITY — Important messages having a time limit or urgency. Official messages not qualifying as an EMERGENCY. Use the abbreviation P in digital modes.

WELFARE — Either a) an inquiry or b) an advisory or reply about the health and well being of an individual in a disaster area. Abbreviate W in digital modes. Handled after EMERGENCY and Priority messages.

ROUTINE — Most traffic will bear this precedence. Hande this kind of traffic last or not until all circuits are clear with other traffic.

Sending or Receiving

On phone, we properly send the printed message below as follows:

“Number three routine…HX Echo …KA3ABC … ten … Exton Pennsylvania… one eight three zero zulu… April one eight… Lor Kutchins I spell Kilo Uniform Tango Charlie Hotel India November Sierra… W3QA… figures seven eight five Tree Lane… West Chester Pennsylvania one nine three eight zero… Telephone six one zero three four one three three three two…Break…Next letters Alpha Romeo Echo Sierra training meeting should… cover the emergency operations plan… Break… Sam… end … no more… over.”





When sending formal traffic we use “pro-words“ to clarify portions of the message. These are:

BREAK -- separates address from text and text from signature
CORRECTION -- I am going to correct an error
END -- end of message, usually followed by “no more” or “more” as below
MORE -- more messages to follow, usually preceded by the number of messages to follow, i.e., “2 MORE”
NO MORE — no more messages follow
FIGURES -- used for a word group containing numbers
INITIAL-- used only for a single initial
I SAY AGAIN -- used to indicate a “repeat” of a word
I SPELL -- to spell (phonetically) a word
MIXED GROUP -- i.e., 12BA6
AMATEUR CALL --indicates an amateur call sign follows

When receiving traffic, we use different pro-words for clarification or repeats of missing words. We always precede these pro-words by SAY AGAIN:

Quick Reference Frequencies for EMCOMM Contact Outside Chester County

Bucks County ARES
Primary Repeater: 147.090+ PL 131.8
WinLink: TelPac nodes:
Upper NJ3A-10 145.610 Riegelsville
Upper N3EXA-10 145.610 Perkasie
Central KB3BUX-10 145.670 Ivyland Home frequency
Lower NY3J-10 145.530 Bensalem

Delaware County ARES
Primary Repeater: 147.195MHz + PL 100.0
Linked Repeaters: 447.375 – PL 100.0
442.250 + PL 131.8
WinLink: Telpac nodes (1200 baud)
EOC/Lima W3AEC-10 144.910MHz
Aston N3UP-10 144.930MHz
Malvern/Paoli W3JY-10 144.95MHz
Ridley Park K4RFJ-10 145.03MHz

Montgomery County ARES/RACES

Primary Repeater:
2 m 146.235/146.835 - N3ACL PL 88.5
6 m 52.11/53.11 - N3ACL PL 88.5
220 Remote Base to 440 Repeater - 223.88 simplex – PL 136.5
440 444.125/449.125 - N3ACL PL 88.5
PACKET BBS - 145.01, 145.05 – Connect to N3ACL- 4
WinLink: 145.57
N3LJZ-10 (Trappe)
WA3WLH-10 (East Greenville)
W3CF-10 (Hatfield Twp)

Philadelphia County ARES
Primary Repeater: 147.030 + PL 91.5 Phil-Mont Repeater System
444.800 + PL 186.2
Secondary Repeater: 146.685 - PL146.2 (H.A.R.C. repeater)


State Net(Harrisburg)- Daytime: HF 40m LSB 7250.5
State Net(Harrisburg)- Nighttime: HF 75m LSB 3993.5

Tactical Net Pro-words and Break Tags

When communications get heavy, someone may have a short solution to a problem that is consuming valuable air time. We use “break tags" so they can get into the net and share their information. Normally we are trained not to break into a controlled net unless there is an emergency. The usual exception is to throw out our call sign, which usually gets us put on hold, while we sit in frustration with the answer to a question that could save much unnecessary chatter.

Break tags are single pro-words used to break into a net that indicate the kind of info you are offering. They are to be used only when the information will be appreciated by the NCS and will result in a more efficient net. They are:

  • Answer or Info — when you have the answer to a specific question being discussed, and time will diminish its value.
  • Recheck — when you are returning to the net from another frequency or an absence.
  • Query — when time is of the essence and you have a question that needs to be addressed now, like when the Mayor asks you for an answer and he is standing next to you.
  • Priority — to request a break to report an important but non-life-threatening situation, such as a car accident or a minor medical incident.
  • EMERGENCY — only break in with this to report ongoing life- or property-threatening situations.
  • Your Call Sign — as a break-in word it is an indication that you have traffic that can wait and does not require stopping the ongoing exchange. With this you expect to be put on hold. As the last thing in an exchange, you indicate you are clear.