Comprehensive Emergency Operations Management Plan

Weston Mountain Digital Radio Association (W7NEO) Comprehensive Emergency Operations Management Plan.

Purpose:

To better enable the W7NEO digital voice repeater system to effectively provide a valuable resource to our local community in the event of a natural or man-made disaster by the establishment and clarification of operating procedures and responsibilities. In addition, outlining specifically how the system will and will not be allowed to be utilized by outside interests during such times thereby preserving the core values of our organization.

National Incident Management System (NIMS) Operational response conditions are as follows:

  • The incident complexity is NIMS Type 5 or 4, and all communications needs are being handled through commercial services, there is no need for additional communications resources.
  • When incident complexity reaches NIMS Type 3 or 2, regular communications systems may not be capable of normal capacity in the affected areas. Supplemental Amateur Radio communications resources can fill the gap until regular communications are restored. Depending on the quantity of communicators needed and operational periods, deployment of emergency communications resources from outside the affected jurisdiction(s) is possible.
  • During major emergencies and disasters (NIMS Type 1 incident complexity), there may be major failures and overloading of the communications infrastructure, including the degradation or loss of the electrical grid, cellular phone network, Internet, public safety radio systems, and AM/FM radio systems. In such cases, supplemental emergency communications resources are needed in quantity and for extended periods until regular communications are restored.

General conditions of activation for Amateur Radio:

FCC regulations permit Amateur Radio operators to serve the public by communicating with non-amateur entities (e.g., FEMA, the National Weather Service, the military) during emergencies and disasters, and when specifically authorized by the civil defense (a.k.a. emergency management) organization for the area served (under RACES protocols). Although very little of the following directly applies to the W7NEO system to the degree of which it would conceivably be utilized during an emergency, it is nevertheless worth noting:

47 CFR §97.111(a)(2) – Essential communication needs and to facilitate relief actions;

47 CFR §97.111(a)(3) – With another FCC-regulated service;

47 CFR §97.407(d)(1) – Public safety or national defense or security:

 47 CFR §97.407(d)(2) – Immediate life safety, protection of property, law and order, human suffering/need, combating of armed attack or sabotage;

47 CFR §97.407(d)(3) – Public information or instructions in civil defense and relief.

Actions to be taken by W7NEO system administrators/control operators:

NIMS Type 5 or 4.

  • No action is required, continue to monitor the situation for any changes in status.

NIMS Type 3 or 2

  • Request that users minimize the shifting of WiresX to rooms outside of the NE-OREGON room. Make every effort to reasonably accommodate individuals that may wish to use the system in order to pass and/or receive emergency traffic. Update NE-OREGON room message board with short posts (limited to 80 characters) in order to inform users of various hazards including but not limited to changing weather, road hazards/closures, etc.

NIMS Type 1

  • System administrator/control operators shall lock WiresX into the NE-OREGON room (#40289) so as to prevent the system from being moved during critical periods of communications. If not already in contact, contact local Emergency Operations Center(s) (EOC) via dedicated local ARES/RACES repeater systems, and/or email in order to inform them the W7NEO system is available. Insure that EOC’s, and outside organizations understand that although there is no directed net activated on the W7NEO system the passing of emergency traffic is permitted.
  • In the absence of a directed net being conducted on the W7NEO system every effort will be made in order to accommodate stations needs involved in communications support activities during the emergency. Post to the WiresX message board of this status, in addition make frequent announcements on the system informing users of the system being in emergency operation mode, with emergency traffic having priority.
  • Individuals not serving in official capacity pertaining directly to the emergency entering the NE-OREGON room attempting to obtain information shall be directed to contact their local EOC, or other official sources of public information. The WMDRA does not have a Public Information Officer (PIO) position within our organization, nor is it our responsibility for any of our membership to serve in such capacity.

Procedures pertaining to how the W7NEO system will be deployed/utilized during times of emergency:

  1. At no point will any outside organization not authorized under powers granted by 47 U.S.C. §606 be permitted to establish a formal directed net on the W7NEO repeater system. Local ARES/RACES repeater systems are already available specifically for that purpose, and it is expected that they would be utilized accordingly without the need of the W7NEO repeater system.
  • At no time will any militia groups, and/or groups otherwise representing antigovernment and/or racist sentiments within the fundamental ideologies of their organization(s) be permitted access to the W7NEO system under any circumstance whether real or implied. If individuals representing any such organization(s) are identified on the system they shall be informed that the W7NEO system does not cater to their ideologies therefore it is not available for use by their organization. After having made contact and informed said individual(s) of WMDRA policy pertaining to such ideologies they shall be directed to clear their station(s) from the system immediately. If said individuals refuse to vacate the system as directed they shall be blocked by a system administrator or control operator with no recourse to be reinstated.
  • Legitimate emergency traffic will be given priority, however stations with emergency traffic will show reasonable consideration to stations already using the system. This will be accomplished by the station holding the emergency traffic requesting use of the system in order to pass their traffic, and the occupying station(s) releasing the system to them. Once traffic has been passed, and no further traffic is waiting to be passed stations involved will relinquish the system to normal use.
  • Regular users of the system will be asked to show consideration during times of emergency by paying particular attention to avoid practices such as tailgating, and/or tying up the system for extended periods of time with non-emergency related conversation, etc.
  • If proper operation of digital voice equipment is not adequately understood by Amateur Radio personnel manning the EOC then every effort will be made to provide a qualified individual to assist in training EOC personnel. The purpose of this is to minimize unnecessary interference on the W7NEO repeater system (and other digital voice repeater systems parked in the NE-OREGON room) by EOC personnel. Once training is completed, said individual will be under no obligation to further assist EOC personnel, but will be free to do so if they feel it is appropriate.
  • In the event that repeaters are no longer linked due to loss of linking infrastructure those repeaters within the W7NEO group will be utilized as standalone systems and all of the above operating directives will remain in effect as if they were still linked until such time as the network is restored. Fusion repeaters are perfectly capable of fully functioning as standalone digital voice repeaters without the need for internet connection. Individual coverage by the various repeaters within the network is more than capable of still providing a service to the local community as needed during an emergency. Other repeaters that may have been connected to the NE-OREGON room prior to the loss of linking that are not part of the WMDRA will most likely revert to their own policy doctrine as they deem appropriate until linking is restored. Once linking is again restored, control operators for those machines will be informed that linking has been restored, and that those repeaters will be once again free to rejoin the network as they wish to do so.
  • In the event that repeaters within the W7NEO system are operating on emergency battery backup power traffic on the system will then be limited to essential communications only.

Utilization of various features of the WiresX system:

  • A bulletin board which is accessible to all users of the system has an emergency section in addition to the local News section. Both can be utilized for posting road hazards, weather conditions, and information in general. Messages can be text, picture, or audio format, with text messages limited to 80 characters. When posting to the local News list section messages can be broadcast to users that have WiresX activated and are connected to the NE-OREGON room. In order for the users to receive the message broadcasts they must have a MicroSD card installed in their radio.
  • The GPS feature has multiple applications both within and outside the WiresX system. Some radio equipment can display both range and bearing information to other stations active on the system. This feature does not require connection to WiresX in order to function. When connected to the WiresX system position is displayed as APRS data only when the microphone is keyed on web sites such as aprs.fi. Many fusion radios also have a fully functional APRS feature built in which APRS data is displayed both on the radio display and web sites such as the afore mentioned.
  • Stations located outside of the immediate coverage area can connect into the NE-OREGON room (#40289) as well in order to exchange traffic.
  • Although Group Mode (GM) is available, it is highly discouraged from being used on the repeater system, but may be used in simplex operation.

*Fusion repeaters are fully capable of functioning independent of the internet, however WiresX features are contingent upon the internet being available.

Policies and procedures as they pertain to analog FM repeaters within the W7NEO system:

  • Currently none of the analog FM repeaters within the W7NEO system are linked into the digital voice portion of the system.
  • All of the above policies are applicable to the analog FM repeaters with the exception of those circumstances and conditions exclusive to digital voice (C4FM) repeater operation.

Summary: It is strongly felt by the membership of the Weston Mountain Digital Radio Association (WMDRA) that all of us within the Amateur Radio community must step up to the task as skilled communicators in times of an emergency in order to best serve our community. Our local, state, and federal authorities will be depending upon the valuable communications resources the Amateur Radio community as a whole will be able to provide in the way of capable communications systems and highly skilled operators. In order to fulfill this responsibility, we as communications specialists must function as part of a communications team combining our individual strengths for a single purpose, the safe wellbeing of our local community. The primary purpose of this document is to provide clear and detailed guidelines with regards to the response by the WMDRA to a natural or manmade disaster by establishment and clarification of operating procedures and responsibilities. In addition, it makes clear our system capabilities, and availability in conjunction with our core values as they relate to emergency communication response.