List of terms and acronyms you are likely to encounter when working in emergency communications.
Last Updated: May 10, 2016
ACS is a program identifier of RACES, ARES, REACT, CAP, MARS, RCU, DCS and any other volunteer-based telecommunications organization. ACS is a part of California's Citizen Corps/AmeriCorps Program called California Volunteers.
State of California OES prescribes the Anderson Power Pole as the standard DC power connector for use by State ACS/RACES personnel, and recommends its use by County and City RACES personnel as well. Using this standard, highly reliable connector allows quick and easy installation and substitution of radios, power supplies, batteries, and other equipment.
Sometimes incorrectly called Automatic Position Reporting System, APRS is a communications protocol that allows stations to send location, weather, location, and other data real-time.
The national association of amateur radio in the United States. With more than 161,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the world. ARRL's mission is based on five pillars: Public Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership.
Courses offered by the ARRL to teach basic information about emergency communications, ARES®, and the relationship between amateur operators and the emergency agencies they assist.
CAL FIRE protects lives, property and natural resources from fire; responds to emergencies of all types, and protects and preserves timberlands, wildlands, and urban forests and provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments.
Sometimes used to refer to CAL FIRE which is part of the department.
A FEMA program to train citizens in basic emergency response skills. In Milpitas the CERT program is called SAFE.
The ICS title for individuals responsible for command of functional sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration. Also used to designate the highest ranking position in a department - Police or Fire Chief.
The appointed leader of a RACES group. See EC - Emergency Coordinator.
An appointed ARRL official who directs the emergency Amateur Radio efforts within a district. (The DEC for Santa Clara County is Logan Zintsmaster KZ6O).
To work under a RACES activation you need to be registered as a DSW by the governmental agency you are working for. This provides workers compensation and liability insurance coverage while working for that agency.
Identification card issued by the government agency you have registered with.
An emergency broadcast system using public communications (TV and radio) to alert the general public to an emergency situation.
An appointed ARRL official who directs the emergency Amateur Radio efforts within a city. Within Santa Clara County the EC is also the RACES Chief Radio Officer (CRO). (The EC/CRO for Milpitas is Tim Howard, KE6TIM).
A location within a city, county, or state from which emergency operations are directed.
A committee whose membership consists of the managers of all city Offices of Emergency Services in the County, the manager of the County Office of Emergency Services, and the Emergency Managers of allied organizations. ARES/RACES is represented to the EMA by the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC)/Chief Radio Officer (CRO).
A general term referring to the act of or the person providing communications services during an emergency.
The government agency concerned with disaster preparation and disaster recovery.
The first person or agency to be sent to the scene of an emergency. This is normally fire, law enforcement, or emergency medical personnel.
An unlicensed personal radio service in the UHF band. All radios in this service must be hand-held units transmitting no more than 1/2 watt.
A licensed personal radio service in the UHF band. For the price of the license fee (there is no exam) you may set up base, mobile, and repeater systems running up to 50 watts.
A bag or pack that has your "call-out" gear (emergency activation gear). Suggested Go-Kit contents.
The location at which the primary command functions are executed. The ICP may be co-located with the incident base or other incident facilities.
A management tool to bring multiple agencies together under one command structure during an emergency.
A military-run radio system that uses frequencies close to the amateur radio bands. MARS sometimes interacts directly with amateur radio, especially for message handling.
The use of microwave frequencies in the Amateur Radio Bands to create a fault tolerant wireless network for the purpose of sending high speed digital data.
A written agreement between two organizations describing their cooperative efforts. For our purposes, a written agreement between ARES®/RACES groups and their Served Agency(ies). This agreement details what services will be provided by the ARES®/RACES group and what commitment the Served Agency makes in return.
A State OES definition of the entire county, including the unincorporated county land together with all the cities within the county.
A station, or more likely, an operator who is running a radio network. He or she is in charge with maintaining the orderly flow of traffic on that net.
NIMS is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that is applicable at all jurisdictional levels and across functional disciplines.
An ARRL-run network of operators who pass telegram-like messages throughout the United States.
An antenna system designed to send HF transmissions almost straight up, where they bounce off of the ionosphere and return to earth to cover a wide area around the sending station.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from nearby National Weather Service offices.
The organization at the state, county, or local government level charge with responsibility for planning, preparation, and disaster operations.
A program used within Packet Communications to provide a Windows based interface. See also PacForms.
A digital communications system using computer terminals connected via Amateur Radio stations. Provides a reliable method for transmitting large amounts of data quickly and accurately. See also TNC.
An add-on to Outpost that provides a Windows browser based form that looks like the paper copies of the commonly used forms.
A person assigned to make public statements and handle queries from the press and public.
Amateur radio groups organized by civil authorities to perform emergency communications.
A station which receives transmissions from a mobile, portable, or fixed station and re-broadcasts them for extended range usually with higher output power. Generally located at a relatively high elevation.
A radio net organized for coordination of the movement and tracking of personnel and equipment. See also Tactical Net.
This is Milpitas' name for the CERT program.
The Salvation Army's internally managed amateur radio effort.
An appointed ARRL official who directs the emergency efforts within a section. (The SEC for the Santa Clara Valley Section is Larry Carr KE6AGJ)
As an "emergency communicator" you will always be working for someone. You will never be managing an emergency yourself. You will be assisting some civil agency (police, fire, etcetera) or other emergency relief organization (hospital, Red Cross, etcetera). The agency or organization to which you provide communications services is the "served agency".
Refers to radio operator assigned to a particular person or VIP to provide them with auxiliary communications.
The SEMS law, effective January 1, 1993, incorporates the use of the Incident Command System (ICS); the Fire Fighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies (FIRESCOPE) agreement; existing multi-agency and inter agency programs; the State's master Mutual Aid agreement and mutual aid program; the Operational Area concept.
Refers to radio communications where both transmitter and receiver operate on a common frequency without the use of a repeater.
The protocol established by an agency for its operation.
SKYWARN is a program managed by the National Weather Service that utilizes trained volunteer "spotters" to send in real-time on-the-ground reports of severe weather.
An elected ARRL official who directs the ARRL's efforts within a subsection of a region. Milpitas is in the Santa Clara Valley Section (SCVS). (The SCVS Section Manager is Brandon Bianchi, NI6C)
An area where equipment and personal are checked-in and staged prior to being deployed in response to an event.
Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteer. A person who comes forward during a disaster event that wants to be of help but who is untrained and not affiliated with any organized group.
An identifier used by all radio operators at a specific location. They may include jurisdiction names ("Milpitas EOC"), agency names ("San Jose Red Cross"), location names ("Redwood Shelter"), ICS names ("Fire Base 1 Command"), individual names ("EMS Shadow"), or net names ("Resource"). All calls are made with tactical call signs (for example, "Redwood Shelter, this is Milpitas EOC"). Use operator call signs (W6ABC) only to meet FCC requirements (that is, every ten minutes or at the end of a series of transmissions). A Tactical Call Sign is assigned to a location, not to an operator.
A radio net organized for the purpose of handling the operational communications associated with an activity. See also Resource Net.
Used for Packet communications. This device acts like a modem between a personal computer and a radio transceiver.
Messages sent over the air. This can be formal written messages or informal messages.
A microphone/radio system that uses the operator's voice to activate the transmitter instead of a manual push-to-talk (PTT) button. Not recommended for emergency communications.
Last Updated: May 10, 2016