Public Service Events
Standard Operating Guidelines
Updated September 16, 2008
This document provides guidelines on how to organize and execute communications support for Public Service Events (races, parades, walkathons, etc.). This advice is based on “Lessons Learned” from previous events and should be tailored for the characteristics of the individual event.
2. Finding Volunteers
The success of any event depends on finding sufficient qualified volunteers to support the event. Recommended practice is:
- Try to identify volunteers more than 8 weeks prior to the event.
- Publish an article in the Bandspread.
- Ask for volunteers during the CVARC meeting and the Sunday ARES net.
- Call people by phone that have expressed an interest in the ARES Member Survey or on the CVARC membership application.
- Remind volunteers by phone or E-mail just prior to the event.
- Contact adjacent counties for assistance if additional volunteers are needed.
3. Preparation by the Event Organizer
The Amateur coordinating the event should provide the following information (as relevant) to all operators participating in the event. It is best to provide this information in writing just prior to the event, or provide the opportunity for participants to write it down during the pre-event organizational meeting.
- Description of Duties – Coordinate with event officials what Amateurs will do during an event.
- Maps – Provide maps of the course or site.
- Schedule of Events
- Individual Amateur station assignments – (Who is doing what)
- Tactical Callsign Assignments (including agency Liaisons).
- Designate the working frequency – Use the 146.745 repeater if needed for adequate coverage. If only simplex needed, use 146.505.
- Designate a backup frequency in the event of interference (e.g. stuck mike).
4. Preparation by Participants
(Recommended preparation activities for participants will be added in a future revision.)
The most common problem encountered is that an Amateur in the field encounters a problem and there is nobody to report the problem to. Designate Amateurs to handle the following types of traffic and make sure everyone knows their assigned tactical callsign.
- Medical Assistance
- Event Leadership – Need for additional supplies or questions about the event.
These Amateurs should shadow the appropriate personnel, if present. If not present, an Amateur with a cell phone or access to a telephone should be designated as the contact. Make sure they know both the emergency and non-emergency telephone numbers for each agency.
6. Radio Procedure
Professional image is important. Whenever you transmit, think what you would sound like if your transmission was broadcast over a PA system. The public will be listening, even if it is only through the radios of other Amateurs.
Keep radio traffic short and to the point. Leave spaces between transmissions. However, silence for long periods can be boring. Net control should occasionally check the status of all participants. This will help find dead batteries and areas of poor radio coverage.
7. FCC Regulations
Interpretation of the rules in Part 97 as applied to event communications is difficult. However, the FCC responded to questions from Amateurs participating in the Boston Marathon a few years ago that provides guidance.
It does not matter if the race sponsors are non-profit or for-profit organizations. Amateurs may be used to enhance safety, but not for the normal business communications of any organization. For example, a TV station cannot use Amateur Radio operators to collect information on runners positions in a race. However, the FCC has ruled that Amateurs can report runner’s positions to race officials as that knowledge contributes to the safe execution of the event.
It is recommended that Amateurs participating display some manner of visual identification. Some organizations provide orange vests or unique T-shirts to participants. CVARC has vests available if participants wish to use them. A standardized method of identification is a subject for future discussion.
Keep track of all Amateurs participating, and notify them when they are no longer needed. Confirm that each Amateur copied. Don’t leave anyone stranded.
10. Thank You!
A good way to get volunteers for your next event is to publicly give them recognition. What other thanks do they get (except for an endless supply of T-shirts)? The best way is to make it known (including names and calls) via the Bandspread, the next CVARC meeting, and the Sunday ARES net.