OK. Now we'll have our brief training segment.
First, I'd like to invite anyone who would like to present a
training segment during a future session of this net to contact me.
We also welcome suggestions for future training segments that would be
applicable to a broad cross section of the participants in this net.
Please contact me after the net on this repeater, or by phone or
Second, since we are discussing training, I'd like to encourage
everyone to take one or more of the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Courses. People who check into this net regularly have
heard me advertise these courses before. But given the number of
people who have not yet taken the course, and the fact that many of
you can take the course for free, I think this topic justifies regular
and frequent nagging.
For those who are unaware of these courses,
the ARRL has developed a set of three courses directed to emergency
communications in amateur radio, and these courses are collectively
referred to as the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Courses, or
ARECC. There are three levels of these courses--Level I, Level II,
and Level III.
The Level I course is entitled "Introduction to Amateur Radio
Emergency Communication," and is a basic Amateur Radio Emergency
Communication course (ARECC) to raise awareness and provide practical
knowledge for amateur emergency communication volunteers. The course
includes basic message handling, equipment and use, the incident
command structure, and operations and logistics, among other topics.
This course is appropriate for any amateur interested in emergency and
public service communications. Let me not mince words: Every ham
should take this course.
Currently, the easiest way to take these courses is to register and
take the course via the Internet. I believe you currently need to be
an ARRL member to do this. It costs $45 to register, but if you
successfully complete the course, ARRL will reimburse the fee, using
money it received in a federal homeland security grant from the
Corporation for National and Community Service, and another grant it
received from United Technologies. This means that if you register
and successfully complete the course online, you can get this valuable
training essentially for free. However, the money may eventually run
out, so I urge you to take the courses as soon as possible.
Registration for the Level I ARECC course opens on the first Monday of
the month, and that's NEXT MONDAY, March 4th. The courses do fill up
quickly, so I recommend you register as early as you can on Monday
morning. The web site is on the Cook County ARES web page: http://ares.n9nl.com. Click on the
quick jump for the
Cook County ARES net and look for the 2004/02/25
net. The link will be item "b". Or just go to the ARRL web site and
look for ARECC.
I mentioned earlier that the easiest way to the the ARECC courses
is to register and take the course via the Internet. Each course
consists of approximately 20 "learning units", which are roughly
equivalent to a short chapter in a text book. For each learning unit,
you study the text and references delivered via the web, complete one
or more "activities" (roughly equivalent to a homework assignment),
and answer a short multiple-choice quiz. The quizzes do not
contribute to your grade in the course. However, it the end of the
course, there is a 20 or 25 question multiple-choice exam, consisting
of questions suspiciously similar to the questions you saw earlier in
the quizzes. You need to answer at least 75 percent of the questions
correctly to pass the course, but that shouldn't be too difficult
because you've already seen the questions when you took the quizzes.
Cook County ARES may eventually provide a classroom-based course
for those who are not an ARRL member, and for those who some reason
cannot or do not wish to take the course online. If you are
interested in this option, we need to hear from you, so we can know if
there's enough students to make offering the course worthwhile.
Contact me, Neil Ormos N9NL, by telephone or e-mail, which you can
find on our web site ARES.N9NL.COM, or by radio after the net.
Please consider taking these courses. Among those people who have
taken the courses and with whom I've discussed them, every single one
has indicated that they learned something valuable from the course and
that the course was well worth their time, and this includes some
individuals with extensive experience in amateur radio emergency
The third topic I'd like to discuss is severe weather preparedness.
Although it's still winter, spring is not too far away... and it's
time to get ready for severe weather season. Here are a few
- Attend a severe storm spotter training class.
If you did not attend a severe storm spotter training class last year,
your spotter certification is probably about to expire--they last for
two years. Even if you did attend a class last year, you might like
to take a refresher.
And even if you never plan to be a severe storm spotter,
you should take one of these classes because you never know--one day you might find yourself in a situation where you
have seen severe weather that you think should be reported to the weather service or other authorities.
This class will give you the tools to distinguish between
things that should be reported (and things that shouldn't), and to make your report as useful as possible.
I won't read the schedule now. Instead you can
visit our web site where we have links to the spotter training
schedule from the National Weather Service Chicago forecast office.
tonight's net, and then look for item "c". For most of these
classes, you do not need to register in advance, and there is no fee.
The basic severe storm spotter class lasts one and a half to two
- For those who live in areas not served by the Chicago (actually
Romeoville) National Weather Service office, we also have links to
spotter training schedules for the rest of Illinois, much of
Wisconsin, and parts of Indiana. Go to the quick jump labelled
"Chicago-area Skywarn Training". Yes, it's a misnomer; the links to
the the schedules for the other areas are there.
- Some of you may be interested in a more advanced spotter training
class. The DuPage County Office of Emergency Management and the
National Weather Service are offering an advanced spotter training
workshop on Saturday March 6 at Wheaton College. This course lasts
all day, includes lunch, requires advance registration, and you have
to pay a fee. I believe registration has filled in past years. I
don't know whether registration is full now. If someone does know,
they can let us know at the end of this training segment. For more
information, contact the DuPage County Office of Emergency Management
directly at 630 682 7925.
- There are several other advanced spotter training classes being
offered within an hour's or so drive from the Chicago area. I believe
there will be one in Rockford on March 20, and another one in Bristol
(Kenosha County) WI on April 20. I believe those courses do not
require registration or fees, but it would be smart to check with the
responsible agencies before travelling.
- Whether or not you take a spotter class, you may wish to review
some spotter training materials. One our
web site, in the
Skywarn Training section, we have links to some excellent
One particularly nice resource is the
Storm Spotter's Reference Guide, a web-based guide provided by the National Weather Service office in Louisville, Kentucky.
Although the guide has some information of primarily local interest, it also includes a number of items that should be of interest
to any spotter, including:
Even those who are not spotters would do well to review the severe storm safety rules.
- The Storm Spotter's Role
- Storm Spotter Do's and Don'ts
- Information About Thunderstorms
- Key Definitions
- Severe Storm Safety Rules
- Severe Thunderstorm Criteria
- Where and How to Report Information
- Hail Size Estimates
- Beaufort Wind Scale
- Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale
- Miscellaneous Resources
- Lastly, I encourage all amateurs to familiarize themselves with
the nets in their communities, and in the surrounding areas, that
focus on severe weather spotting and warning services. A list of
severe weather spotter nets in the northeastern Illinois area,
including Chicago, is available on our web page. Look for tonight's
net, and then look for item "e". Other lists and maps are also
available. Use the quick jump to Chicago-Area
and Illinois Nets, including ARES, Skywarn, and Public Service.
Many people have one or more local nets that serve their home or work
locations. In addition, Bob Hajek W9QBH runs the Northern Illinois
Emergency Net, which covers most of the Chicago and surrounding area
via a simplex channel and linked systems of repeaters:
In order to be prepared to participate
in local or regional spotter nets, you should do the following, well
- 147.06 S (Melrose Park)
- 145.350 R-600 PL107.2 (Wasco) (CEEARS)
- 146.925 R-600 PL100.0 (Gilberts) (FISHFAR)
- 442.900 R+5000 PL114.8 (Schaumburg) (FISHFAR)
- 442.925 R+5000 PL114.8 (Malta) (FISHFAR)
- 442.975 R+5000 PL114.8 (Chicago) (FISHFAR)
- Identify the local and regional spotter/weather nets that serve the places where you live, work, play, and commute.
- Program your radios with the frequencies, offsets, and PLs required to access those nets.
- Familiarize yourself with the procedures used by those nets. For example, each net expects particular information to be provided in each report, in a particular format. Nets may very as to the threshold of severity of weather that should be reported. E.g., hail larger than X. Some nets do not want reports that a community has activated their sirens. If you do not know the net's procedures, you essentially force the net control station to train you during an emergency situation, and you risk delaying other important reports.
- Check into the nets to practice their procedures, verify your programming, and exercise your equipment. The Northern Illinois Emergency Net, which meets on Monday evening at 2000 (08:00 PM) local time, would be a good place to start.
Well, that's it for the training segment.