This summary is based upon the assumption that the reader has some familiarity with the subject of Near Vertical Incidence Skywave HF-SSB propagation for communications between 1.8 and around 10 Megahertz. NVIS is essential to anyone requiring reliable HF communication from one to 400 miles. Such users include the RACES, Operation SECURE, the Civil Air Patrol, FEMA, the U.S. Forest Service, MARS and others. This information is not found in conventional technical publications and (least of all) in the field of Amateur Radio. Having said that, here again are the highlights of NVIS (pronounced "niviss").
Tactical HF radio nets over areas of several hundred miles that operate on only one frequency may, in actual practice, be generally unrealistic. Propagation, operating conditions and ommunications needs often dictate that more than one frequency is necessary. Conditions over which the Net Control Station may have no control frequently can ruin a net limited to just a single frequency.
If you are undertaking the management role of volunteers for the first time there are several factors you should understand. Not all volunteers do the same thing, are capable of doing the same thing, nor is it desirable they all do the same thing in communications. On one hand, you need people who do a repetitive function under close supervision. Others perform repetitive duties with little or no supervision. On the other hand you need (or should have) people who lead, solve problems, plan ahead in the short term, those who are good at long term planning and preparing standard operating procedures.
Every organization has its "A" team and "B" team -- or its first string and second string people. This isn't a subject to be whispered or discussed only behind closed doors. It's something that every volunteer and their managers should face up to in the open. Being on the first string is really a frame of mind, an attitude, and a high commitment to the team and its mission. It is not really a skill level. Many an expert doesn't have the team spirit just mentioned. The ability to progress to a higher skill level is based on a positive and proactive frame of mind. They like their job.
Unconcern about travel distances goes hand in hand with the bulletin on commitment. The overwhelming majority of experienced and committed volunteers give little thought to driving distances. This is because we gain satisfaction out of what we are traveling to and from. Too often, I'm afraid, managers measure distances by their own standards. Try a new practice -- don't!
How far is relative. Distance is measured by one's personal life style, experience and pocketbook. Driving five miles can be far for one person while a hundred miles is not really far for another. For these reasons I urge managers to never, ever assume that any distance is too far for a volunteer. Let the volunteer be the judge of how far is "far."
Adopted from industry, the following supervisors checklist for new workers can apply to government workers -- both paid and unpaid. It is suggested that particular attention be placed in applying these guidelines to the unpaid staff. They can only help improve your organization.
1. Get ready to receive the new worker:
____ Assure that the written application is complete, law enforcement check successfully accomplished, photographs taken and I.D. card processed.
____ Review his/her work experience, education, and training.
____ Have an up-to-date description of his/her job or a list of duties.
____ Have his/her workspace and supplies ready.
Training can only go so far in the classroom. Some aspects and experience can only be achieved on the job. One way to do that is with a practice that is called double teaming.
Double teaming is the process of putting a less experienced person to work with an experienced one, particularly in operations, installations, and technical work. This enables the lesser experienced (or new person) to show their stuff under fire, be evaluated under pressure, and sometimes step up into the role of a more responsible position.
Query: do the benefits to RACES participants of a county program such as a credit union conflict with FCC Amateur Radio Service rules?
Reply: The FCC rules do not apply to Amateurs for the use of a credit union by participants in a county benefit program as a result of a RACES program in and by that county. What it does do is to seek to prevent Amateur licensees from using the Amateur Radio Service FREQUENCIES incorrectly. It's not the Amateur LICENSE per se that the FCC is interested in, it's the improper use of Amateur Service FREQUENCIES it wants to avoid; i.e., pecuniary interest or pay for use of the AMATEUR frequencies (or any use of other frequencies improperly.)
Query from Emergency Management Agency Official: Why do Amateur Radio operators sign up with a multitude of places to serve and then are not available to any particular unit when really needed?
Reply: Here are some ideas, perceptions and practices that result in that situation:
If the past few years are an example of changes to come, then we may not recognize what serving in an Auxiliary Communications Service will be like in the 21st century!
Today the situation is no longer just that of operation of radios or packet. It involves much more than that; like assistance with a wide array of SYSTEMS: telephone, satellite, microwave, computers. When understood thoroughly, it covers everything from disaster information and intelligence to the delivery, installation and operations of systems in support of needs that may not be even thought of as yet!
CA State OES began the Bulletins in the early 1950's to assist agencies and radio operators to become more familiar with RACES. They were issued periodically until 1985, at which time they began to be issued weekly over voice and digital radio systems of Amateur Radio and in print. Originally intended for California, increased demand, and a 1988 request by the ARRL for national distribution, led to their eventual worldwide distribution.