Net Control Stations and The Bad Thing™

posted Jan 4, 2016, 8:38 AM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 19, 2016, 7:26 PM ]

NCS Operator Guidlines 

A few reminders of how we operate on the City of Dallas RACES and county­ wide Net on 146.880/442.075. These guidelines are meant to harmonize our operations. They are not intended to remove your personality or style as an NCS operator.

A large number of people depend upon our professionalism to ensure radio circuit discipline. The better we become, the better and more professionally we perform our duties as Net Control Stations; the better the participants in our Nets will become.

We are the calm, cool, and collected voice of reason. We are the professionals that set the tone and rhythm of the Net. Your voice, your personality, your quiet confidence and professionalism will be what Net participants, served agencies and other consumers will come to rely upon when Bad Things™ occur.
  • SILENCE is GOLDEN!
  • EVERYONE is LISTENING!
  • YOU are NET CONTROL!
  • While in the chair, your judgement is your guide.
    • I stand behind each and every one of you. I have your back.
    • I trust you or I wouldn’t have hired you.
    • I hold you responsible for enforcement of radio circuit discipline.
  • Maintain unquestionable professionalism.
  • Strive for situational awareness.
  • Rotate NCS at the top and bottom of the hour, if possible.
    • Obviously, if you’re involved in a situation keep NCS until you are clear of the issue then transition to another NCS.
    • Active listening is work. You must rest, even if you feel you can go on.
  • When you rest, get away from your radio for, at minimum, 15 minutes. Do not continue to sit and shadow the Net.
  • Keep your transmissions short!
    • Think before you press the PTT key. Thinking while transmitting is a Bad Idea™.
    • 90% of your transmissions should be well under 15 seconds in length.
    • The remaining 10% should rarely exceed 30 seconds in length.
    • If you are transmitting, someone else with an emergency cannot.
    • Try to work full­duplex if possible.
      • 146.880 and 442.075 are linked in RACES mode.
      • Transmit on 442.075 and use another receiver on 146.880 with headphones to listen to your transmission.
  • Reduce redundancy.
    • When acknowledging stations say only the callsign.
      • Repeating the calling stations call in phonetics is redundant. Unless you are unsure of the callsign, in which case you should be clear about requiring a fill.
      • The same is true for unit numbers.
    • Be aware of the definitions and use of lingo and jargon. E.G. “tornado on the ground" is redundant and an incorrect use. By definition all tornadoes are in contact with the ground, did you mean funnel?
    • Repeating a report is redundant, but encouraged.
      • Allows the reporting station a chance to verify the report was copied correctly.When acknowledging a report through repetition, ensure the report is repeated in the correct format to reinforce proper reporting procedures.
      • Allows served agencies and others to retrieve fill words.
    • Redundancy is good for reinforcing procedure or to highlight pertinent information. However, it should be used sparingly.
  • NO editorializtion!
  • NO readings of watches or warnings!
    • If NWS reads watch/warning information, summarize the highlights.
    • NWS is not our personal information source. Do not ask NWS for updates, they are extremely busy!
  • NO RADAR interpretation!
  • NO training items to be read on the air, even while the Net is quiet.
  • Observe and use reporting criteria.
    • Minimum, Modified, and Elevated.
    • You or our served agencies may cause the net to move to differing reporting criteria. On rare occasions you may want to announce the minimum criteria, but only on very rare occasions.
  • RACES Appointees should know our criteria from the CCRM and other training.
  • No need to explain the reason for the Net.
    • Obviously an announcement that we are in a SKYWARN or other type of Net is useful.
    • Explaining repeater state or tones is unnecessary.
    • If stations are listening they should be able to figure out that the repeater and other operators are engaged in an event.
  • If ANY station reports an imminent threat to life or property.
    • It does not matter if they have a RACES unit number or not we take that report!
    • You are not responsible if another operator has not read Part 97 or does not understand it.
    • If it becomes obvious that the station is not reporting an emergency and is not a RACES appointee then note their callsign and ask them to stand by.
    • At the end of the Net return to this station and invite them to join RACES.
    • Use this as a filter, not a bludgeon.
Characteristics of a good NCS

There are several characteristics that comprise a good Net Control Station. Often, we don’t think
about these things at a conscious level. It is amazing when we hear and experience them. Allow
these characteristics to rise to the level of consciousness in your operations.
  • Highly skilled at active listening.
  • Calm, cool, collected and generally unflappable.
  • A voice and demeanor that commands attention. Houston voice.
  • Capable of developing situation awareness based solely on radio reports.
  • Skilled in time management.
  • Quick at making the distinction between important facts and trivial information.
  • Strong technical knowledge. Especially in the operation of their station.
  • Very aware of the social dynamics of the Amateur Radio hobby.
  • Exercises good judgement.
  • A strong personality as evidenced by the willingness to assume responsibility.
  • Ability to understand and manage resource constraints.
  • No apparent ego while on the air.
Calm, Cool, Collected Operators

We are the metaphorical calm, lone voice in the literal storm. Our thoughtfulness, preparation, dedication, and training will be what ensures we continue to operate at a professional level when the Bad Thing™ occurs. It is imperative we maintain an even tone and level head while others in our community may be suffering greatly.