Kalamazoo County ARES/RACES Plan for Disaster Operations 01/03/2011

SCOPE: This Plan provides guidelines for providing communications during a disaster.


ARES/RACES: Amateur Radio Emergency Services or ARES is a disaster communications program sponsored by the American Radio Relay League. Radio Amateurs Civil Emergency Service or RACES is a similar program sponsored by the State of Michigan and administered by the local OEM. RACES members in Kalamazoo County have special access credentials. ARES members do not. In Michigan the person in charge is designated EC/RO.

SKYWARN: SKYWARN is a weather spotting program sponsored by the National Weather Service and works in conjunction with ARES and RACES.

Geographically Confined Disaster: One which encompasses a limited area, up to several city blocks. Although the actual disaster site will be confined, communications may be required at one or more remote locations such as hospitals, shelters, etc.

Large Area Disaster: A disaster encompassing a large geographical area, possibly the entire county, or more. i.e. Blizzard or Pandemic.

Linear Disaster: A disaster along a single narrow path. A major highway closure may qualify as a linear disaster.

Escalating Emergency: An incident beginning as an emergency, and evolving into a disaster. An example would be the recent oil spill.

Staging Area: A location which has been designated as a meeting point for stations involved with the disaster situation. Staging areas should have large parking lots and easy access to major streets and highways. A retailer such as Meijer or Walmart should be considered as a staging area since you may be able to acquire supplies before departing.


Activation of this disaster plan shall be by the EC/RO, Emergency Management Director, or other Official in Charge (OIC).

Kalamazoo County ARES/RACES will provide communications support for the member agencies of the Kalamazoo County Disaster Committee.

Members needing access to sensitive areas shall have proper credentials.


When the need for deployment of ARES/RACES members is recognized, the EC/RO, shall activate the calling tree, and start a manpower net on an available repeater. The Honeywell System may be used in lieu of a calling tree. The Honeywell notification system has the ability to page, email, phone, and send SMS messages to those on the list.

Members are encouraged to monitor/identify on the 147.000 repeater when they suspect an incident is unfolding. If you encounter this situation, please establish contact with other station(s) on frequency. The EC/RO may assign a team member to drive to unaware members residences, to request assistance.

The EC/RO will contact the official requesting ARES/RACES support.

Our services may be offered if we haven't been requested.

Member agencies of the Kalamazoo County Disaster Committee are eligible for our support.

The Kalamazoo County EOC radio room will be assigned one or more radio operators.

An estimate of the duration of ARES/RACES involvement shall be made as soon as possible. If the expected duration is greater than several hours, plans shall be made for relief operators. This may involve notifying the State or District Emergency Coordinator and/or other EC/RO's.

Staging areas shall be identified and assigned a command post station (SCP).

Determination of the need for a (CP) shall be made by the EC/RO or Operations officer.

All teams shall be notified of possible deployment.

The Red Cross station operators shall be notified of possible deployment.

Operators assigned to Damage Assessment Teams shall report to the EOC for assignments, unless redirected by NCS or the EC/RO.

Operations will be terminated when deemed appropriate by an the EC/RO or Official in Charge.


EC/RO: The EC/RO will act as a point of contact with the Official in Charge and oversee all management decisions made by other teams and officers. The EC/RO will provide operational guidance as needed. The EC/RO will notify the District and or Section Emergency Coordinator of the operation.

Net Control Station (NCS): A station will be appointed by the EC/RO to maintain control over all net operations including the keeping of accurate logs and copying of all net traffic. The NCS will usually operate from the emergency communications center in the Kalamazoo County EOC. This is not a requirement. There may be some circumstances where this is impractical.

The NCS may consist of one or more operators as needed.

When communications are on a simplex frequency, the NCS will also monitor the 444.650 repeater which will act as a back-channel to the American Red Cross Chapter House.

Time permitting, the NCS will periodically announce the frequencies in use by various communication sectors. NCS will also announce which operations are presently active and give a situation update when possible.

The NCS will be self-sustaining with respect to electrical power, manpower, communications, and life support. If this isn't possible, a Backup NCS should be standing by on the net.

The NCS is responsible for activating the squelch tail signal on the repeater. i.e. “N”, “W” or “NET” in morse code.

More than one NCS may be required in large scale disasters.

Safety related information shall be announced by the NCS on all nets.

Backup Net Control Station (BCNS): A station designated by the NCS to be available to take over as NCS should that become necessary. The BCNS should copy all pending traffic, maintain accurate logs, and fulfill all other prerequisites for net control.

Staging Area Command Post (SCP): A station designated by the EC/RO or NCS to assume responsibility for operations at the staging area.The (SCP) shall maintain a list of available stations and equipment at the staging area and record movements to and from the staging area. The (SCP) will coordinate incoming man power on an available 2 meter repeater. If none is available, a simplex frequency will be used. The (SCP) may conduct this operation from his/her home station.

On-Scene Command Post (CP): A station designated by the EC/RO to provide a physical presence and coordinate all communications in and out of the disaster site. In a linear disaster, more than one On-Scene Command Post may be required. In a large area disaster, it may be necessary to activate the CB/FRS interoperability plan to establish contact with the public. Activation of this plan can be broadcast to the public on the EAS broadcast station. Important information from the public to local officials can be acquired and routed as needed.

Avcom , Mini-CP, or The 5th District RACES Trailer may be used as an ARES/RACES command post.

The (CP) shall be located near the disaster site to facilitate communication. Usually the location will be designated by the Incident Commander. Our command post will remain out of the "Hot Zone" for safety purposes. If any form of criminal action is suspected, our command post should be located farther away. Law enforcement, or law enforcement reserves may be requested to provide site security as needed.

The (CP) will coordinate with other ARES/RACES communication centers on matters affecting the disaster site. These communication links usually will be established on the 147.00 MHz repeater.

Damage Assessment Teams (DAT): Qualified members may be asked to perform as DAT's during or after a disaster. A working frequency for this task will be assigned to prevent interference to concurrent operations. Consider the use of simplex channels when working in close proximity. Each DAT shall have its own NCS when possible.

Advance Team: An Advance Team will report to a location to facilitate the arrival of resources such as a Command Post.

Technical Support Team: Technical Support Teams will be assigned to correct or improve our operation as needed.

Safety Officer: The Safety Officer will make sure teams are properly briefed and equipped before deployment. The Safety Officer will also track locations and status of those deployed.

Equipment Officer: The Equipment Officer will act as a “quartermaster” to distribute equipment as needed.

Operations Officer: The Operations Officer may be used to manage the operations portion of the incident.

Training Officer: The Training Officer may be used to educate members on any special procedures pertaining to the current incident.

SKYWARN NCS: The SKYWARN Net Control Station shall be responsible for the weather spotting portion of the operation.


During a disaster situation, individual members available for assignment will be identified by the NCS or SCP, and assigned to duty as necessary.

ARES/RACES personnel may be assigned to a disaster site or to a staging area by NCS, or EC/RO, or SCP. Personnel should report to the on-scene command post after arriving at the disaster area.

All responding RACES personnel will have a State and a local RACES card in their possession.

ARES/RACES members may be asked to staff communication posts at locations other than the disaster site. These assignments will be made by the EC/RO. A typical post would be the EOC, American Red Cross Chapter House or a hospital.

Formal traffic to be passed, (unless extremely time sensitive and of a tactical nature) will contain the originators name and title as well as the destination name and title. A date/time group shall also be included in each message. No formal traffic will be passed without this information. The ARRL message format will be used for messages routed to areas outside the County. ICS form 213 may also be used as needed.

The mission of ARES/RACES is to provide communications support to served agencies. ARES/RACES members should undertake no actions other than this primary mission unless requested by the served agency. Clear any non-communications assignments with the EC. (i.e. SKYWARN or DAT)

While a disaster situation may require the taking of certain calculated risks in order to accomplish the mission, ARES/RACES members are responsible for their own safety and should take no action that places them in jeopardy. In a questionable situation, pull back and report your situation to the NCS or EC/RO.

If there is no clear chain of command remaining in local government, report to a local Fire Chief, or MSP district coordinator for assignment.


During a disaster situation it may be necessary for the EC/RO or Operations Officer to evaluate the physical layout of the disaster site or sites and the relationship to other sites where radio communications will be required. The Technical Support Team may be able to help with this task.

Stations operating within each disaster site will communicate with each other and the On-Scene CP on a simplex channel when practical.

In a large area disaster, traffic will be passed via repeater, remote base, or high frequency (shortwave) radio.

Key Simplex Frequencies are:

3563 Cw, 7068 Cw,

1932LSB, 3932 LSB 5371.5 USB - 14.300 USB - 28.380 USB - 144.200 USB

52.525 FM 146.430 FM - 146.520 FM - 147.470 FM - 223.500 FM - 446.000 FM.

Digital – Oliva 8/500 or MT-63 USB: 1803, 3583, 3585, 7043 Winlink/Winmore freq. assignment - dynamic.

D-STAR 145.000

Jnos 145.760 1200bps AFSK

APRS 144.390

Key Repeaters are:

SMART 147.040 + 94.8
KARC 147.00 + 94.8

KARC UHF 444.650+ 131.8

Many mobile radios have a crossband repeat function. These can be used to extend coverage into weak signal areas. Our recommended crossband UHF channel is 444.6125 pl 186.2

State Primary Disaster frequencies are 3932, 7232 LSB - 3563KHz.CW – 3583 Olivia. These frequencies may be in use during a large area disaster.

The 147.00 repeater will be used for wide-area coverage and for communications between ARES/RACES stations at served agencies.

The 147.04 repeater will be used for secondary SKYWARN operations, Staging, and Mutual Aid coordination.

Simplex will be used as an on-scene tactical channel.

Echolink is available through the node on 147.470 pl 94.8. Consider the use of Echolink plus a crossband repeater to provide worldwide HT coverage from inside any building.

The 444.650 repeater will be used as an executive intercom between the KCEOC, On Scene Command Post and the American Red Cross Chapter House and/or other key facilities. This repeater may be also be used to provide coverage into Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital if necessary. There is a backup repeater on the Maple Street tower with overlapping coverage. The backup repeater uses a CTCSS tone of 186.2.

The 147.120 Penfield repeater should be considered as a possible link to the State EOC.

The Kalamazoo County EOC and the American Red Cross Chapter House may be able to access the 145.390 repeater in the Lansing area for this purpose.

The JnoS Packet system may also be used to contact with the SEOC.

Area repeaters are as follows.

Allegan 147.240, 147.140

Barry 146.500

Berrien 146.82

Branch 147.300

Calhoun 146.660 and 147.120

Cass 145.210

St. Joseph 145.310

Van Buren 147.360

Most use a pl tone of 94.8

Additional repeater or simplex frequencies may be assigned by the EC/RO or NCS.

Simplex, SSB and digital modes provide additional operational security (OPSEC). Use these modes as needed.