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Dallas RDCS Amateur Radio Team F.A.Q.



Updated: 08/2011
What is a Task Force?
How were the Task Forces Named?
What is the difference between a light and a heavy Task Force?
What are the recommended shots?
Why are the NIMS/FEMA IS courses a requirement?
What about RACES appointees?
What is the CCG?
What are "platforms?
POV...what?
Why is this an ARES function?
Will I always be assigned to my Task Force?
What about expenses and reimbursement?
What happens to my information?
How do I get credentialed?
How am I alerted?
Why Winlink?
What equipment do I need?

What is a Task Force?

The state of Texas has formed four Rapid Response Task Forces (RRTFs) which are considered an “All Hazards” resource, with potential utility in response to any disaster, natural or man-made. RRTFs are designed to conduct re-entry operations immediately following a disaster but can also remain in the impacted area for transition to recovery operations.
Potential missions assigned to the RRTFs include: RRTFs will be self-supporting, and will bring capabilities and resources which are additive to those of the impacted jurisdictions.

How were the Task Forces Named?

The name for each RRTF comes from the location of its staging area. The Dallas RRTF stages in Grand Prairie at the old Hensley Field. Units assigned to a staging area may not come from that area. They may come from hundreds of miles away.

What is the difference between a light Task Force and a heavy Task Force?

The three light Task Forces may contain up to 250 personnel and included response vehicles while a heavy Task Force may contain up to 500 personnel and included response vehicles. These RRTFs are comprised of personnel and equipment from state agencies, private sector, volunteer organizations and city and county government.

Why the Shots requirement?

The impacted area where you might be deployed may have been flooded and the sewer and other systems corrupted thus creating a hazardous health situation.

What are the recommended shots?

Recommended shots are the 3-shot Hepatitis B, Tetanus, TDAP or TD (in last 10 years), MMR, and Chicken Pox. The Hep-B is a 3 shot regimen over 6 months so plan ahead. If you don't have them before a incident call up, you probably won't be allowed to join the response.

Why are the NIMS/FEMA IS courses a requirement?

All governmental agencies involved in disaster relief and emergency support all use the Incident Command System methodology for command and control. The course requirements are to familiarize yourself with the concept as you will be working in that environment.

What about RACES appointees?

Local RACES appointees or groups have no authority to operate outside their local jurisdiction. Local RACES appointees that want to participate in Task Force Communications are encouraged to do so. Most RACES appointees are well trained. At this time all Task Force Amateur Radio Communicators operate under the ARES banner. The state and the ARRL West Gulf Division have worked together to establish a relationship to manage the amateur radio communicators attachment to the Task Forces. You do not have to belong to an ARES group to participate.

What is the CCG?

The Communications Coordinating Group or CCG is located in Austin and from that location all communications resources are coordinated. There will be several ARES Section Chiefs assigned there during an activation and will manage the ARES/RACES amateur radio Task Force communications resources. Likewise, there are MARS and State RACES Section Chiefs managing those amateur resources.

What are "platforms?

"Platform" is a term used to identify a unit ( Command Vehicle, Communications Trailer, etc. ) belonging to a federal, state, city or county agency that has amateur radio equipment on board.

POV...what?

POV is an acronym for Privately Owned Vehicle. Generally, amateur radio communicators use their own vehicle when serving in an EmCom role.

Why is this an ARES function?

The leadership of the West Gulf Division of the ARRL were contacted to work with the State Division of Emergency Management to set up and manage the amateur radio role in the Task Forces. The in place hiearchy and leadership made it ideal to facilitate the amateur radio communicators role with the task forces. Although this effort is under the ARES umbrella it in no way eliminates any amateur radio EmCom communicator wanting to participate with the task forces.

Will I always be assigned to my Task Force?

As an initial responder you will respond with the Task Force that you have trained with. As a reserve responder you will be called up as needed. This means that you could be assigned to your home Task Force or to a different Task Force depending where amateur radio communicators are needed. Your task should remain the same.

What about expenses and reimbursement?

As a volunteer, your expenses are out of your pocket and you cannot accept pay for your services as an amateur radio communicator. With that in mind, here are some exceptions.

For training or an exercises, lodging if required are likely to be provided, hence the importance of letting your TF contact know what is needed in advance. Food will likely be provided at both locations, but if not we will find out prior to the training or exercise. For training or exercises fuel is not being reimbursed to my understanding.

During an incident fuel will be provided by official refueling stations due to uncertainty of getting it anywhere else. Lodging will likely be group tents but could possibly be a commandeered hotel. Food will be provided but each team should be prepared to be self-sustaining for up to 72 hours after deploying.

In both cases, when you fill out the form that will be passed around and it asks what your daily "reimbursement rate" is, the answer is ZERO. We are unable to accept compensation or per-diem for our services at this time. (We are working on some ideas to help with that). But food, lodging and fuel provided by TF are acceptable.

What happens to my information?

Your input information will be kept in two places. First, the POC for the Amateur Radio Task Force Dallas team will keep a copy locally. Second, a copy will go to the CCG in Austin for use during exercises and call outs. In no case will this data be used in any other manner. When you have changes in your information, submit a new form and we will update your information.

How do I get credentialed?

Once you get the call to respond you will be directed to a staging area. There the credentialing process starts. An intake person will take your information or you may be asked to fill out a form. A photo will also be taken. Your information will be processed and your credentials issued. The credentialing is for that particular exercise or incident. At the end of your activities with that incident your credentials will be returned. You are credentialed each time you respond. In some (special) cases you will be credentialed at the location of the incident.

How am I alerted?

For now you will be alerted by a phone call from your SEC or POC. Reserve responders will receive a call from either your SEC, POC or the CCG in Austin. As we move forward, this may change. You will be notified of changes.

Why Winlink?

In seasons past the gulf area has proved the value of HF Winlink in communicating with the State EOC in Austin. With this in mind the ARRL's West Gulf Division has assembled a number or HF Winlink Go Kits. These kits will be divided among the 4 task force amateur radio teams. The Dallas team is to receive two of these kits. They are complete from computer to antenna. On the VHF Winlink side which is just as important and will be used to support the local infrastructure and tactical operations. When the HF Winlink station is configured as a hub, the VHF Winlink stations relay information via that station. Training will be provided for the HF Winlink equipment and is slated to be available for use throughout the year.

What equipment do I need?

At present the TRRF/Dallas comunications team maintains two HF radio Go-Kits which include an HF radio, tuner, power supply, Pactor III modem and miscelaneous cables.

Until such time as funding is available the rest of the equiment is up to each team member. Each team member should possess a laptop capable of running the Winlink suite and ancillary software, VHF/UHF transceiver and associated equipment (CRF-DM). A NVIS type of HF antenna should be on the list of "to build." The concept is that the HF equipment stay on location during a deployment while the communicators rotate in and out with their personal gear. Last communicator brings it all back and of course each team member should have their own support equipment.


For questions or additional information contact:
John Galvin - N5TIM
ARRL OES
Point of Contact, RRTF Dallas Amateur Radio Team