Basic Emergency Service Training (BEST)

This is not an exhaustive article. I will reference and advise looking at other articles that are on our ARES/RACES disk. Many of them will also be up on my web page: http://www.qsl.net/ke3fl.

Getting started in Emergency Service Communications is no different than getting started in any other endeavor. You first start by thinking about it, read, join a group, and then asking questions. I got started because of Field Day 1992. I needed to get a Novice station set up and so I had to have power, and antenna, and a rig. So, let's start there.

Lesson 1:

In the field of communications you need power, and antenna, and a rig. That's about as basic as you can get.

Power: Emergency power consists of any means of powering the rig, and anything else needed, that is independent of the AC mains. These means can be batteries, AC generator, solar, water, wind, or people power. In an emergency you will need to think outside the lines. Do you have a lawnmower that is started by a 12 volt battery? If so, it can be used to recharge a 12 volt battery. Your car can do the same but it will use far more gas to charge the same battery than a small lawnmower would. (See: Battery.txt, trickle.txt, NiCd.HTM )

Antenna: The type of antennas you will need depends of the frequencies you will be using. But a good standby antenna is the dipole. You can calculate almost in your head the length of a half-wave dipole at a given frequency. If you can't do this then do it before you need it and save that information in a way you can use when needed. If you work 2-meters and or 450 MHz then consider a J-pole antenna. It is not too long at these frequencies. You should build a "foldable" J-pole or two and have them ready. The good-old dipole can be built on the spot with wire and some clips or patch cords. (See: antennas.txt, Skyhooks.txt, jp-hlp.txt, and j-pole.txt )

Rig: The radio should be small and use as little power as possible, especially on receive. This might sound funny, but at most locations you will spend about 90% of your time monitoring what is going on, not talking. So if one your radio uses three amps while monitoring and 30 amps on transmit, but another uses 1 amp on receive and 40 amps on transmit, which would be better to use? (30 * .1 + 3 * .9 = 5.7 amps) (40 * .1 + 1 * .9 = 4.9 amps) It would be better to use the 40 amp transmitting radio.

That concludes your first BEST lesson. I'm sure you can now see many things I've left out, good! Remember to think outside the lines.

Lesson 2:

Go kits are for going. What is a go kit?

There are two types of Go-kits:
2. The people go-kit.

In this kit is everything you need to set up an emergency station. Generally we make one go-kit per band of operation. Today you could make a go-kit with one rig that does HF, VHF, and UHF but generally we use different radios for each of these bands. It should have a power source or two, power cord(s), antenna or two, radio, microphone or key, and perhaps headphones. An ID badge or photo ID and a vest are also go to have along. (See: e-prep-2.txt, e-prep-3.txt, e-prep-5.txt )

People Go-kit:
Extra glasses if you wear them, drink (water), medication(s), etc Anything & everything you will need to function for 48 hrs. (See: e-prep-1.txt, e-prep-3.txt )

Lesson 3:

Traffic Handling, and I don't mean with your car.

Traffic Handling is what we call being able to send and receive formal messages. These are messages that will be going to other people, not you. You will have to make sure that you got the entire message and got it correctly. There is nothing more frustrating to the recipient, and damaging to our credibility, than to deliver a message and have some important part missing or wrong. (See: radio-rx.grm, radio-tx.grm, arrlgram.txt, sample.grm, traffic.txt, nts.txt, nts_pkt.txt )

I hope this helps in getting you started in ARES and/or RACES.

73 de KE3FL
Phil Karras
AEC Carroll County, MD
ORS, OES