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Summary of
Standard Operating Procedures

Part 3 – General Information

An overview of the CARES Standard Operating Procedures, Part 3, is provided here. A complete copy of the CARES SOP Part 3 is available here.

Part 3 provides additional information that will be useful to CARES members during both training exercises as well as during a response.  The Part of the SOP includes the following sections:

Section 10 – Disaster Communications
Section 11 – Equipment Preparedness
Section 12 – Mutual Aid
Section 13 – Personal Preparedness
Section 14 – Glossary of Terms

Section 10 - Disaster Communications

This section is a general introduction to Disaster Communications, what it means, how it is performed, and how it is applied.  Several references are used including the ARRL's ARES Field Resource Manual, the Silicon Valley Emergency Communications Systems (SVECS) Handbook, and others.

Basic Principles

This information includes some of the basic principles the ARRL recommends in its ARES Field Resource Manual that disaster communicators consider, such as:

  • Keep the QRM level down
  • Monitor established disaster frequencies
  • Avoid spreading rumors
  • Authenticate all messages
  • Strive for efficiency
  • Select the mode and band to suit the need
  • Use all communications channels intelligently
  • Don't broadcast

Operating in a Tactical Net

A radio net consists of several stations on one radio channel, follows organized procedures, and directed by a Net Control Station.  The organization makes for efficient channel use, and helps ensure that urgent matters get handled before less urgent ones.  In short, the net functions as a team to work toward a common goal; effective net operation is teamwork.

Additional information in this section includes:

  • The use of tactical call signs
  • Operating in Field Assignments
  • On-Air Communications
  • Interrupting the net
  • Talking on the net
  • Handling questions and answers
  • General procedures

Message Handling

Ideas on message handling are presented including preparing and passing a message.

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Section 11 - Equipment Preparedness

This section lists equipment and material needed to support a response.  Several references are used including the ARRL's ARES Field Resource Manual, the Silicon Valley Emergency Communications Systems (SVECS) Handbook, and others. Specific sections include:

  • The Basic Deployment Equipment Checklist
  • Extended (72 hour) Deployment Equipment Checklist
  • Ready-Kit considerations
  • Emergency Power Connections

Cupertino-specific information is provided including:

  • City Hall EOC Equipment
  • Alternate EOC Equipment
  • City-wide Amateur Radio Antenna Drops

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Section 12 - Mutual Aid

In the event Cupertino ARES is directed to stand down or is deactivated, CARES members are encouraged to check into the SVECS Resource Net to offer their services there. 

The SVECS Resource Net may recruit and dispatch amateurs to any assignment including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Amateur radio positions at hospitals
  • The amateur position at County Office of Emergency Services (OES)
  • A Scene Coordinator who will report to the Command Post at the scene
  • On-scene support, reporting to the Staging Area
  • The Red Cross disaster office activated by County OES

The Resource net operates on 146.115+ PL=100 (however, PL may not be turned on in the event of an emergency).  Check in to the net and state your availability for a County-wide assignment.

Santa Clara County Emergency Frequencies

See the SVECS Frequency List for County frequencies.

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Section 13 - Personal Preparedness

The next time disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act.  You are encouraged to prepare now for a sudden emergency.

This checklist will help you get started.  Discuss these ideas with your family, then prepare an emergency plan.  Post the plan where everyone can see it – on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

The information in this section is from the “Emergency Preparedness Checklist” published by the American Red Cross and covers the following:

  • Creating an Emergency Plan
  • Emergency checklist
  • Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit
  • What to do if you need to evacuate
  • Preparing an Emergency Car kit
  • Fire Safety

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Section 14 - Glossary of Terms

  • Agency Liaison Coordinator (ALC):  Persons appointed by the EC who shall operate under the EC during emergency periods to coordinate an agency's actions for providing effective relief and assistance in accordance with this plan.
  • ARES:  The Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is a field service of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  Its members are licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.  Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible for membership in the ARES.  The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve.  Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership.  The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
  • ARRL:  American Radio Relay League.  The 170,000+ members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) are among the most active and enthusiastic amateurs in the country. Headquartered in Newington, CT, ARRL speaks for its members in Washington and internationally as well as providing direct member benefits.
  • Directed Net:  The Net Control Station may exercise strict control, requiring every other station to get his permission before using the net.
  • Disaster:  A dangerous event that causes significant human and economic loss and demands a crisis response beyond the scope of any single agency or service, such as the fire or police department.  Disasters are distinguished from emergencies by the greater level of response required.  Disaster requires resources beyond those available locally.
  • Emergency:  While an emergency may have been devastating, it is a dangerous event that does not result in a request for State or Federal Assistance.
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC):  A centralized facility to be utilized by the government for direction, control, and coordination.
  • Emergency Period:  The period of time immediately before, and/or immediately following the impact of a catastrophe when severe threats exist to human life, animals, or other private and public property and/or the environment.
  • ICS:  The Incident Command System is a management tool that that provides a coordinated system of command, communications, organization, and accountability in managing emergency events.  Due to the widespread use of ICS, Amateur Radio operators should be familiar with the system, as well as how they interface with agencies employing ICS.
    • Integral to ICS is the concept of Unified command.  There is only one boss, the Incident Commander, who is responsible for the overall operation.  For any incident, there are a number of functions that must be performed ranging from planning and logistics to handling the press.  The functional requirements of planning, logistics, operations, and finance are always present despite the size of the incident.  They may be handled by a single individual for a small incident, or a Command Staff for a large incident.  Another characteristic of ICS is “span of control” In simple terms, any manager should only directly manage a small number of people.  ICS uses the number of five for organizational purposes.  The number five isn't hard and fast, but provides a useful organizational guideline.
    • Amateur radio volunteers are expected to be communicators, and within the ICS, this would place us in the Communications Unit of the Logistics Section.  The communications unit provides all communications services for the operation.
  • Local Mass Care Center:  A place selected locally by the private volunteer groups to provide care for individuals dislocated during the emergency period.  Services provided are lodging, feeding, registration, first aid, and other social services.
  • Major Disaster:  Any hurricane, tornado, storm flood, high water, wind driven water, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, snow storm, explosion, or other catastrophe in any part of the United States which, in the determination of the United States, causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude as to warrant major disaster assistance under Public Law 93-288 above and beyond emergency services by the Federal Government, to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviation of the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.
  • Open Net:  NCS relaxes the control exercised during a Directed Net.  For example, although the channel is limited to net traffic, net stations may be permitted to call one another with the NCS intervening only to straighten out confusions.  Or, the NCS may allow casual calls and conversations on the channel, speaking up only when there is net traffic to pass.
  • RACES:  The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) is an emergency service function defined under Part 97 of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Rules.  Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) sponsor RACES as an official volunteer organization.
    • RACES is a special phase of amateur radio operation that provides radio communication for civil preparedness purposes only, during period of local, regional, or national civil emergencies.  These emergencies are not limited to war related activities, but can include natural disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes.
  • Recovery Period:  The period of time subsequent to an emergency when economic recovery from disaster damage takes place, including the use of any available local, state, federal government, and private resources.
  • SEMS:  Standardized Emergency Management System.  A structure of emergency procedures used almost universally by cities and counties in California to cope with disasters that can affect many communities simultaneously.
  • Tactical Call Sign:  Tactical call signs allow the net to operate without regard to what operator is at the radio of a particular place.  Different individuals may operate the radio at various times.  Changes result from a new work shift, relieving an operator for meals or other errands, moving operators among assignments, or other reasons.  For all of the above, it is awkward and error prone to use each operator's FCC Call.
  • Volunteer Service Organization:   Any organization which is non-government, non-profit whose primary mission is to provide humanitarian support in times of need using public donated funds and volunteer personal resources with or without a formal declaration of an emergency (i.e.: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.).
  • Watch Period:  A period of time when meteorological conditions indicate a probability of severe weather phenomena.
  • Warning Period:  A period of time when severe weather phenomena are actual occurring.

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updated:  February 17, 2007