Please forgive the length here. This is a file I picked up off a militia page a long time ago that covers most of the needed info on getting organized in comms.
CITIZEN EMERGENCY RADIO TEAM
One of the most important, yet often overlooked facets of Disaster Preparedness is communications. During natural or man-made disasters all methods of normal communication, such as the phone system or internet, may be cut off. Even if they are still available they will be severely congested or overloaded to the point of making them useless for emergency communication. You will not be able to call for help or receive news and weather information.
Therefore a reliable means of communication is essential for survival during an emergency. Only the misguided leave themselves deaf, dumb, and blind by placing communications low on their list of priorities. It is imperative that every individual and preparedness group be equipped and trained to communicate with each other and with other organizations giving aid and assistance to the public. Those who prepare best for emergency communications will often be those who receive the fastest response to emergency calls, while the unprepared will be on their own.
If you or your group cannot answer these questions...YOU are in trouble when the time comes.
*Who will you call?
*Will they be listening?
*What frequency / channel will they use?
*How will you contact emergency help if phone/cell communications are overloaded due to the situation?
1.2 MISSION STATEMENT
The Citizen Emergency Radio Team is a volunteer group of trained radio operators. Our mission is to provide emergency communications, aid and assistance for the people within our operational area and State during times of severe weather, natural or man-made disaster.
To accomplish our mission, we are working to establish local and Statewide Rapid Alert Systems / Emergency Radio Networks which are linked to the national level. For the communications network to function as intended, prevent confusion and the resultant loss of life during an emergency; everyone must meet the same training standards and equipment requirements.
MEMBERSHIP: The CERT needs as many radio operators as possible in every area of operation. Membership is open to all local citizens, 18 and older, who are willing to train and equip themselves to CERT standards, and who are dedicated to providing Public Service through Emergency Communications. Everyone is invited and urged to participate in the (blank) County C.E.R.T. organization. Contact the CERT EOC at _____________________________________for further information.
1.3 Getting Started: The Basics
It's the middle of the night. You are awakened by the sound of sirens in the distance. You look at the clock; it's blinking. You get up, stumble through the house and flip on the light switch...nothing happens. You look out the window and see nothing but pitch black everywhere. You turn on the TV and radio...both are out. You panic and grab the phone; it's dead too. So, NOW what do you do? Think about it. Without communication you will be deaf, dumb, and blind during an emergency or crisis. You will be on your own.
OK, you know you need the ability to communicate, but feel overwhelmed and/or confused by the wealth of equipment and technical information. You don't want to get a license or spend a fortune on unnecessary equipment. So what do you do?
Take a few minutes to determine your needs. They are:
* Who do you need to be able to communicate with; family?, friends?, neighbors?, team/group members?
* How many people are involved?
* How far do you need to be able to "reach out" to talk to these people?
* What do you need to be able to listen to local fire, police, emergency services, news and weather? National news?
Once you've thought about these questions; don't get bent around the axle trying to buy expensive gear or everything all at once. Remember Keep It Simple.
Write up a plan. Break it down into stages and go one step at a time. Your communications priorities should be as follows:
1. Local Monitoring (Scanner for local news, weather and emergency service monitoring.)
2. Field Team Communications (GMRS)
3. Local Area Mobile Communications (SSB CB for team to base)
4. Regional Communications/Monitoring (SSB CB Base Station for countywide & surrounding area news, weather & team communication.)
5. Long Range Communications/Monitoring (Shortwave or Ham HF radio for statewide & national news, weather etc.)
When purchasing equipment, do everything in each step before proceeding to the next level. Make sure everyone in your group is on the same level and that all their gear is inter-operable with all other team members.
Exercise the plan. Test the capabilities of the equipment you've obtained. Include in your testing the following (at minimum):
* Battery life
* Scheduled Contact Time and Frequency
* Everyone’s ability to effectively use the equipment.
1.4 GOALS and OBJECTIVES:
The goal of each neighborhood and tactical team should be to create a county wide emergency communications system that interfaces with the existing emergency communications infrastructure. It must do so in such a manner as to be able to provide clear and concise emergency messages to the state and national relay system without disrupting the existing system with compound, confused and / or extraneous transmissions.
*A means and discipline by which individuals, families, and teams within the local county can communicate directly with the county Net Control Operator; whose duty it is to interface with and relay information and SitReps directly to the Regional, State and or National network.
*Establish a county wide Rapid Alert System that can interface with the Regional R.A.S.
*Establish communications which do not interfere with those of neighboring counties; this will include choosing equipment and coordinating frequency / channel usage.
*Work with the individuals from the existing emergency communications network to establish the frequency that those persons will monitor during an emergency, and the communications protocols and message structure to be used to pass messages quickly, concisely, and with as little redundancy as possible.
*Adopt and implement standardized Signal Corps methodology, policies, procedures, administration, operations and equipment so that the CERT may implement efficient, effective integration and coordination of emergency communications.
1.5 CERT RADIO NETWORK ORGANIZATION:
TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS DEFINED:
CERT radio networks use Tactical communications which are short range, ground wave (line of sight) commo used in the local area of operations between team members, teams, squads and their base of operations and or Emergency Command Center. This also includes the Local and Regional radio networks. (Local is for the CERT Rapid Alert System. Regional is for the CERT's in all surrounding counties.)
RANGE of OPERATIONS:
Normal range may be considered to be .5-5 miles for Intra/inter team commo, 5-15 miles for team to base of operations commo and up to 50 miles for base to base (regional) communication.
Base and mobile radio stations are grouped together for the purpose of message handling, SitRep relays and for the local Command Staff's use to coordinate, command and control the various teams within the local Area of Operation. These stations will adopt and use the Incident Command System of operations during a declared emergency.
Participating local units can issue sitreps to other local units, Division (Regional) and/or State Comm sections, dependant upon the State structure, using designated "public" sitrep frequencies and or alternate sitrep freq.s which are monitored 24/7. Routine or emergency sitreps will be relayed according to established Signal Corps SOP's which control use of net operations, and which shall, in case of emergency situations, allocate sitrep frequencies, tac-freqs, callsign designations and any other pertinent tactical information.
Local radio nets should consist of a minimum of 3 base stations per county, plus mobile radios in every vehicle, that are capable of contact with each other as well as the teams deployed in the field. These stations must be capable of setting up radio relay points if needed to maintain communications between the Emergency Operations Center and the various tactical and support teams. The base radio stations will operate on a 24 hour basis during an emergency or while teams are deployed. They will monitor all unit frequencies and gather Signal Intelligence from the local area as well as from the state and national level. At least two of these radio stations must be capable of maintaining contact with all the surrounding counties in the area. The most capable station in the county will be designated the Net Control Station.
All CERT's will hold a weekly radio net to maintain contact with all team members and to issue and receive updates, status reports and SitReps to and from all the local units. They should also hold a weekly training net.
Consist of several counties (CERT's) grouped together for mutual aid. There must be at least one station in each county that is capable of contact with all surrounding CERTs in the regional area. These stations will form the Regional Rapid Alert System and must also be capable of maintaining contact with the State Emergency Network so that SitReps may be passed up the chain of command. The regional RAS will operate on a separate frequency from the local CERTs and will hold a weekly regional net to desseminate information or to send and receive SitReps from participating CERTs. In the event the regional RAS is activated the specified frequency will be monitored 24/7 per instructions given by the regional net control operator.
CERT Network Activation:
All CERT members are urged to monitor their local media for breaking news. They should also monitor local fire, police and weather etc. via a scanner so they will be aware of any emergency situations within the local AO.
Should an incident, event or emergency take place; any CERT member can activate the local radio network by calling the net on the local CERT monitor channel (which should be monitored 24/7 by all team members). But, he should immediatly contact his commanding officer and the CERT Net Control Operator and advise them of the nature of the situation or incident. They will then activate the Rapid Alert System (see R.A.S / Alert Level instructions... ) and issue the appropriate SitRep / Alert Level; so that all team members can be notified as quickly as possible.
NOTE 1: Communications Equipment Operating Instructions:
All CERT's must have a CEOI to maintain opsec/commsec and to standardize operating procedures. These instructions should be kept in a laminated notebook and are to be carried by all comm. Personnel. Security cannot be stressed enough. The potential use, disuse, or misuse of the CEOI can effect peoples lives, so great care should be taken to ensure that a CEOI does not fall into the wrong hands, and if that scenario should ever happen that an immediate replacement CEOI be issued to only those who have a need to know.
CEOI's should contain:
*A Channel / Frequency plan made up of Primary and Alternate frequency pairs to be used on a rotational basis.
*Net / Tactical Callsigns
*Brevity / Op Codes...for use by the radio net and tactical units during an activity, operation and or period of time (net period). These may be randomly chosen letter number groups of varying length (could resemble the 10 code).
*Any other instructions as needed.
Basic training classes will be held by all CERT's on a regular basis. All CERT members will be trained to Team Radio Operator standards as established by the Signal Corps. This will include: Basic Operating Procedures, Net Operations, CERT organization, Unit CEOI, Rapid Alert System/Alert Levels/Mobilization, Situation Report, Incident Command System, and Basic Signal Intelligence. In addition, TRO’s should take a SkyWarn Weather Spotter class. Net Control Operators will be trained per the Comm Officer Guidelines.
1.6 EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATION:
It is imperative that ALL equipment chosen for use by the CERT be compatible. Standardization is essential. A network of incompatible equipment is a useless system. Emergency radio equipment must be chosen based upon the function it is to perform. CERT radio equipment falls into 3 catagories; Team, Mobile and Base.
If at all possible, chose commercial grade or milspec equipment. Cheap gear is just that, cheap, it will fail when it's needed most.
All equipment must have the same frequency/channel capability, adequate range and use similar power sources. Team portable / handheld radio equipment should be of the same brand, make and model and should share the same features, charging facilities and be able to interchange battery packs. Battery packs should be the readily available AA's and everyone should carry 4 extra battery packs in the field. Handheld radios should have a low power setting for short range team commo and a high power setting of 4-6 watts for team to base comm. Antennas should consist of a short range "rubber duck" and a long range flexible whip (15"-17").
I've seen it happen over and over again, when a newbie says "I know nothing about radios and don't have a license. What do I need to get started with local team commo?"; he is invariably told that he HAS to get a HAM license and use 2 meter radio to communicate on the local level. This is just not true.
There are 3 Citizen Band radio services in the VHF, UHF and 11-meter bands that offer acceptable alternatives to ham radio.
They have several advantages.
1. Easy to learn how to operate,
2. widespread availability to the "general public" (ie. No license requirement)
3. acceptable range without the aid of outside sources such as repeaters, and
4. the ability to operate independently of outside power sources.
For our purposes, GMRS (UHF) offers clear communication in the urban environment.
MURS (VHF) works well in rural terrain. With a 3-5 mile HT to HT range these radios are adequate for entry level tactical-team commo. Base to base range is 10-25 miles
SSB CB with a 30-50 mile range is appropriate for county wide and Regional commo.
*NOTE* Some units may already have chosen 6 meter or 2 meter for local / regional use. This is fine as long as all members are trained and licensed in their use.
Team Radio Operators Field Gear:
Midland 75-440 GMRS HT or Tekk NT-10 VHF HT with hi-gain antenna and 4 spare battery packs.
Uniden 246T handheld Scanner
Penlight / Note pad & pencils / Local topo map / Unit CEOI
Midland 75-440 GMRS HT or Tekk NT-10 / Mobile magnet mount antenna
"Broadband" 40 Channel AM/SSB CB / 102" Steel whip antenna
Uniden 246T Scanner
GMRS or MURS HT (from mobile) / Base "Repeater" Antenna / 20' mast
"Broadband" 40 Channel AM/SSB CB / Deep Cycle Battery Power Supply / 5/8 Wave Groundplane Antenna / 30' Mast
Shortwave receiver for monitoring national news and ERPN
200 Channel Scanner / Discone Antenna
City, County and topographic maps of the Area of Operation
Emergency Operations Center EOC
Every CERT must maintain an Emergency Operations Center. The EOC will be the CERT Net Control Station. It will maintain permanent facilities with room for an office, meeting area and communications center. It will produce the CERT newsletter and training material and will be equipped in the following manner.
Facility: Building with mail box and phone line.
Equipment: Cellphone, Computer w/printer, scanner and copier. Internet access for email, news and NOAA radar. Weather station. Plus ALL previously listed base station radio equipment.
Information to be maintained on site: Mailing lists, Press lists, Press Releases, Handouts, Brochures and Training material.
1.7 CHANNEL / FREQUENCY PLAN:
A channel plan is developed to limit the amount of communications for each purpose, based on using 3-4 channels; leaving (or coordinating) channels for use by adjacent neighborhoods or counties for their own communications. NOTE: All times listed are based upon local 24 hour Military time. IE: 7AM=7.00 Lima, 6:30PM=18.30 Lima. Unless ordered otherwise check designated frequencies from 5 minutes before the top of the hour until 5 minutes after.
EXAMPLE BAND PLAN:
CERT Local/Regional Communications
Channel 1 462.5625 FM Public emergency channel
Channel 3 462.6125 FM Inter/Intra Unit Commo
Channel 5 462.6625 FM Search and Rescue
Channel 7 462.7125 FM Support
NOTE: The first 7 GMRS channels are interoperable with FRS radios and should be used.
C1 Channel 9 AM-27.065 – Public Emergency Channel: Used to desseminate weather alerts and other pertinent information to the general public. Also for the public to contact the CERT to request aid and assistance during an emergency situation.
C2 Channel 19 AM-27.195 – Low power Mobile / Convoy Ops
C3 Channel __ AM-27.___ – Search and Rescue
C4 Channel 38 LSB-27.385 – CERT Inter-operability Unit Communications: Used as a Regional Call channel to maintain contact with other CERT's in surrounding counties.
C5 Channel __ AM-27.___ – Support Net: Evac/Relief/ Health/Welfare traffic
C6 Channel __ LSB 27.____ – CERT EMERGENCY NET / GUARD CHANNEL
….3.860 LSB ERPN National Monitor
Local ARES, fire, police weather etc.
Getting Started Part 2
This is a continuation of "Getting Started: The Basics"
The height and size of the antenna connected to the radio is far more important than power. Because VHF/UHF radio is at line of sight radio frequencies, the higher you can get the antennas the more likely you are to be heard. A one-half watt FRS radio can be heard over thirty miles away when used on a 4000-foot mountain. Also, bear in mind that the little rubber duck antenna that comes with most radios is little more than a radiating dummy load with very limited range. The bigger the antenna the farther the range. Always have a flexible gain type whip antenna for every HT as well as a J-pole or other high gain manpack antenna for long range contacts.
Table at Kenwood Two Way Radios
(Standard stubby antenna. Gain type antennas will increase range)
Terrain.....................1/2 Watt FRS Family Radios..........2 Watt UHF GMRS Radios....2 Watt MURS
Outside Clear Flat Terrain-1.5 to 2 miles................3 to 4 miles..............3 to 5 miles
Suburban Neighborhoods-1 to 1.5 miles..............1.5 to 2 miles............1.5 to 3 miles
Urban Areas----------------1/2 to 1 mile...............1 to 1.5 miles............1 to 1.5 miles
Inside Buildings or Malls-1/2 mile or 5 floors......1 mile/20 floors....1/2 mile/10Floors
Between Buildings or Houses-1/8 to 1/2 mile........1/2 to 2 miles.............1 to 3 miles
Woodlands, Moderate Vegetation-1 to 1.5 miles.....1.5 to 2 miles.............2 to 3 miles
Woodlands, Thick Vegetation-1/2 to 1 mile............1 to 1.5 miles..........1.5 to 2 miles
Most hams use repeaters to extend the range of their VHF/UHF handhelds. A HT can hit a repeater and allow the user to talk to others out to 100+ miles. This is convenient for general conversation and has advantages during emergency situations. But, it is nothing more than a crutch. If the repeater goes down, the hams expensive handheld becomes little more than a short range toy.
Militia communications must never rely on someone elses equipment. A repeater can fail when you most need it due to a severe storm or natural disaster. During a disaster it can also become overloaded just like the phone system due to everyone attempting to get on at the same time. Further, the repeater owner can lock you out or shut it down at his discretion, not yours. Remember, if you don't own the repeater, you have no control of the equipment.
Militia teams in the field do not need a repeater to communicate. Team commo should always be Simplex. Do you really want people 100 miles away hearing the details of your team commo. If your conversation appears to be "suspect", there will be numerous self-appointed frequency nazi's on the repeater just waiting to earn brownie points by turning your "suspicious behavior" into the authorities. You must use simplex with the lowest power level possible, to maintain commo and prevent intercept. You must know how to use the terrain, and gain type antennas to increase the range of your radio
VHF ... MULTI-USE RADIO SERVICE
VHF frequencies are better suited for outdoor applications requiring maximum coverage areas. The VHF signals penetrate natural foliage and vegetation much better than the higher UHF frequencies. VHF frequencies are more susceptable to man made objects like steel, steel reinforced concrete buildings. In most cases, outdoors in rural environments a 2 watt VHF radio will have 50% more range than a 2 watt UHF radio.
MURS is the best choice for liscense free VHF tactical / team commo in rural areas. Although it is used by some businesses in urban areas, it sees very little use in the rural envirenment so interferance and overcrowding are not a problem.
The Multi-Use Radio Service, MURS for short, is a small two-way radio service consisting of five frequencies in the VHF spectrum (151-154MHz frequency range) using the FM mode. Established by the US Federal Communications Commission in the fall of 2000, MURS created a radio service allowing for unlicensed operation, with a power limit of 2 Watts, four times that of FRS radio. The FCC formally defines MURS as "a private, two-way, short-distance voice or data communications service for personal or business activities of the general public."
MURS is comprised of the following five frequencies
* 151.820 MHz
* 151.880 MHz
* 151.940 MHz
* 154.570 MHz (also part of the business band)
* 154.600 MHz (also part of the business band)
Propagation (range) is similar to that of 2 meter simplex ham. MURS signals work better in hilly, forrested terrain than GMRS. The MURS VHF frequencies are virtually unaffected by atmospheric skip interference. MURS radios will definately provide more performance than their FRS counterparts. In outdoor handheld applications, expect at least a 50% improvement in range. When communicating thru base stations, communications ranges of 10 miles or more will be acheivable.
There are no restrictions on antennas. High gain vertical and beam antennas are available. You can legally mount a base antenna up to 60 feet high for maximum range. Their are 1/4, 1/2 and 5/8 wave moblie antennas on the market for vehicle operation.
Radios come in handheld and mobile versions. TEKK has the commercial-grade NT-10 with numerous features such as voice scrambling for $129. Midland offers a MilSpec MS-22 for $66. Other options are the Radio Shack BTX-127 (19-1206) handheld unit ($29 on clearance), or the 19-1210 mobile ($49 on clearance), which can still be found, at a few Radio Shacks or E-Bay.
UHF General Mobile Radio Service
Many teams today use the 462 and 467 MHz spectrum as their primary radio communications method. While Amateur radio does have some advantages for local emergencies, regional disasters, and long distance communications, GMRS is an ideal two-way radio training ground, to become familiar with radio theory, operating etiquette, and proper radio procedures.
Technically, GMRS is very similar to the 440 MHz (70cm) Amateur band and acceptable uses are similar but not identical. Users have more freedom to talk about business on GMRS but cannot link repeaters and cannot broadcast a CQ, or transmit CW, SSB, or Amateur television. Only FM voice modulation with a type accepted transceiver is permitted on GMRS. Repeaters, mobile rigs and PL tones work nearly the same way on the UHF Amateur band and GMRS, with minor differences. Signal propagation is identical, power output of HTs is about the same, HT programming is similar, the physical characteristics of coax lines and external antennas (both verticals and yagis) are nearly identical (within a few centimeters), antenna theory is the same, external power supplies and battery management are identical. Operating a GMRS radio helps people develop their radio technique and build a level of confidence that will serve them well in Amateur radio. Reading and understanding FCC Part 95 rules for GMRS (which are simpler) is good preparation to study and understand Part 97 rules for Amateur radio. A person who starts out knowing nothing about radio communications and who learns about GMRS radios and repeaters will be better prepared to earn an Amateur FCC license.
Mobile equipment is available with up to 50 watt output. Most HT's have 15 channels and 2-5 watt output. Range is approximately 2-5 miles; more hilltop to hilltop. Midland currently offers a mil.spec. HT (75-440) with all 23 channels and 2 watt output for $139.95. For increased range, upgrade the HT with a 1/2 wave, 2.5db gain 8.5" helical whip (ANXDG450BN - $19.95). To use the HT for mobile operation add a 5db gain mag mount antenna and a speaker mike or headset-(22-540 - $17.88).
To set up a Local Area Network with a 5-25 mile coverage; take the Midland HT with a speaker mike and connect it to an outdoor omni-directional vertical antenna such as one of the readily available 5db gain commercial antennas. Mount it 30 feet high and use low loss coax such as LMR-400 or RG 213. To boost your signal add the 45 watt ULA-50 amplifier. The Tekk MT-900 40 watt mobile/base radio is also a good option worth consideration.
GMRS has 23 channels; 7 of them compatible with FRS.
Mobile / Base Simplex--Repeater Input--Interstitial Channels FRS/GMRS
11 Meter Citizen Band
There are no age, citizenship or license requirements to operate a CB radio. You may operate on any of the authorized 40 CB channels, however channel 9 is used only for emergency communications or for traveler assistance. Usage of all channels is on a shared basis.
You must use an FCC certified transmitter. No modifications are allowed to your equipment. Equipment output power is limited to 4 Watts for AM transmitters and 12 watts PEP (peak envelope power) for single sideband (SSB) transmitters. There are no restrictions on size or type of antennas, except the antenna must not be more than 20 feet above the highest point of the structure it is mounted to and may not be more than 60 feet above the ground.
To simplify selection of an operating frequency, Citizens' band radio is a two-way radio service that consists of 40 channelized frequencies in the HF spectrum from 26.960 to 27.410 MHz. Frequencies for the channels are mostly 10 kHz apart. Channel numbers are not strictly sequential with frequency.
CB voice channels
1 26.965 MHz
2 26.975 MHz
3 26.985 MHz
4 27.005 MHz
5 27.015 MHz
6 27.025 MHz-AM Skipshooters
7 27.035 MHz
8 27.055 MHz
9 27.065 MHz-EMERGENCY/REACT Channel
10 27.075 MHz-Old Truck
11 27.085 MHz
12 27.105 MHz
13 27.115 MHz-RV/Marine
14 27.125 MHz
15 27.135 MHz
16 27.155 MHz-OLD SSB
17 27.165 MHz-OLD SSb
18 27.175 MHz
19 27.185 MHz-Truck
20 27.205 MHz-Test
21 27.215 MHz
22 27.225 MHz
23 27.255 MHz
24 27.235 MHz
25 27.245 MHz
26 27.265 MHz
27 27.275 MHz
28 27.285 MHz
29 27.295 MHz
30 27.305 MHz
31 27.315 MHz
32 27.325 MHz
33 27.335 MHz
34 27.345 MHz-SSB
35 27.355 MHz-SSB
36 27.365 MHz-SSB
37 27.375 MHz-SSB
38 27.385 MHz-SSB-National Call Channel
39 27.395 MHz-SSB
40 27.405 MHz-SSB
In addition to the voice channels, there are 5 remote control channels for use with remote controlled models such as cars, planes, boats and small toys. These channels are in the unused channel space between some of the voice channels. They get their channel name from the closest adjacent voice channel number below them. Although these channels are still available many of these devices are now controlled in the unlicensed 49 MHz band to avoid interference from nearby CB stations.
Remote control channels
3A 26.995 MHz
7A 27.045 MHz
11A 27.095 MHz
15A 27.145 MHz
19A 27.195 MHz
Being at the upper end of the High Freq. scale; 11 meters offer long range nationwide commo during daytime band openings and has excellant propagation in hilly, forrested terrain. Groundwave signals will cover 60+ miles base to base, 24 hours a day. During band opening ranges of thousands of miles are possible. First Europe and the North will come in then as the day advances, Latin America, the Pacific West and Austailia. These bands usually open about 1 hour after sunrise and stay up until around 9 pm local at night. A 25 watt, broadbanded mobile rig, such as the Ranger 2950DX or the old Uniden HR-2510 coupled to a 102 inch steel whip will have a range of approx. 25-40 miles. The mobile rig will work well for a 40-60 mile coverage base station with a power supply, set of meters/tuner and a vertical 5/8's wave antenna mounted 36' high. For a little more stealth and increased range, use a 3 element horizontal beam, a tv rotor and 40' mast.