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NCA Objectives

The initial priority of the NCA is to provide an effective means of communication within and between member CERTs and with the county Emergency Operations Center.

Guidance in achieving this objective is provided in:
the FCC in US Code of Federal Regulations, CFR 47: Telecommunications Part 95-PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES and PART 97-AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE

Guidance and training are provided by the American Radio Relay Legue (ARRL) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) of Palm Beach County


There are three parts necessary to establish the NCA Communications Infrastructure:

  • Comply with the directives given in the PBC Communications SOG

  • Provide the ability to extend the county emergenncy communications nets into the CERT

  • Train the radio operators according to the training requirements of their position

The County Communications SOG
The Palm Beach County Standard Operations Guide (SOG) for CERT Amateur Radio Communication Policy states,

"Each CERT shall have their own Communication Plan for internal communications with team members. Changes in individual CERT procedures may be required if the team is dependent on commercial systems (e.g., cellular, landline, internet) at the time of activation due to possible damage to the communications infrastructure.

Information received from reporting teams will help the EOC establish and maintain a common operating picture of the incident. CERT communications will provide up-to-date information to assist in formulating responses from the EOC, EOAs, law enforcement, fire rescue, and other responding agencies."

In accordance with this direction, the NCA will create a strawman Communications Plan that member CERTs can adopt, adapt and implement as their own.

The Extended Emergency Comm Network
The normal emergency radio commectivity between a CERT and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a two tier communication system:

Tier 1: an amateur radio link between the EOC and the community(ISMA) HOA/POA CERT's Incident Command Post (ICP) and

Tier 2: the ICP communication with its teams in the field.

The situation is different here because this community requires a three tier system:

Tier 1: an amateur radio link between the EOC and the community(ISMA) HOA/POA CERT's Incident Command Post (that has no teams in the field) and

Tier 2: a radio link between the community(ISMA) HOA/POA CERT's Incident Command Post (ICP) and the 24 independent neighborhood CERT Incident Command Posts and

Tier 3: a radio link between each of the 24 neighborhood CERT Incident Command Post their teams in the field.

(note: the EOC prefers to communicate only with the community HOA/POA CERT. They emphatically do not want to deal with subordinate neighborhood CERTs)

An NCA communications network is proposed to address this requirement. With the cooperation of the participating neighborhood CERTs. The Extended Emergeency Communications network (ExEmComm Network) will be a three tier network:

  • Tier 1 is the extension of Palm Beach County's Emergency Communications (EmComm) network, from the EOC/EOAs to the NCA communicator (amateur VHF radio operator)

  • Tier 2 would be the NCA inter-CERT directed network. This GMRS/FRS network would provide communications connectivity:
    • between the NCA GMRS/FRS radio operator and the neighborhood CERT Incident Command Posts/Headquarters GMRS/FRS radio operators, and
    • between the neighborhood CERTs' GMRS Incident Command Posts/Headquarters radios

  • Tier 3 would provide GMRS/FRS communications between the individual neighborhood CERTs' Incident Command Posts/Headquarters and their Contact Teams in the field.
Radio Training
Basic and advanced training plans will be published for three levels of radio use:
  • Tier 1 amateur radio communicators,
  • Tier 2 CERT Incident Command Posts/Headquarters GMRS/FRS radio operators and
  • Tier 3 Contact Team GMRS/FRS radio operators.

Training plans for each of the three levels of radio use will include, as appropriate:
  • radio operation,
  • network communication protocol and
  • message creation, formatting, prioritization and message triage.

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