Calling With Tactical Call Signs

From Don Metheny, AI7AD – Here is an excerpt from Section 2, Topic 5 of the ARRL EC-001 course for Emergency Communications. It indicates some limited use of personal call signs in addition to tactical call signs to meet FCC requirements. It sounds like when we are in a dire situation, we might want to skip the personal call signs for expediency but should use them sparingly during drills and practice. As it says, don’t id for every transmission. But do try to id every 10 minutes or at the end of a conversation.

Calling With Tactical Call Signs

If you are at “Aid 3” during a directed net and want to contact the net control station, you would say, “Net, Aid 3”. If you had emergency traffic, you would say, “Aid 3, emergency traffic,” or for priority traffic, “Aid 3, priority traffic.” Notice how you will have quickly conveyed all the information necessary without having used any extra words.
If you have traffic for a specific location, such as Firebase 5, you would say, “Aid 3, priority traffic for Firebase 5.” This tells the NCS everything it needs to correctly direct the message. If there is no other traffic holding, the NCS will then call Firebase 5 with, “Firebase 5, call Aid 3 for priority traffic.” Note that no FCC call signs have been used — so far.
Here is an example of how tactical call signs were used during the 2012 Boston Marathon:

Station Identification

In addition to satisfying the FCC’s rules, proper station identification is essential to promoting the efficient operation of a net. The FCC requires that you identify at 10-minute intervals during a conversation and at the end of your last transmission. During periods of heavy activity in tactical nets it is easy to forget when you last identified, but if you identify at the end of each transmission, you will waste valuable time.
The easiest way to be sure you fulfill FCC station identification requirements during a net is to give your FCC call sign as you complete each exchange. Most exchanges will be far shorter than 10 minutes. This serves two important functions:

    1. It tells the NCS that you consider the exchange complete (and saves time and extra words).
    2. It fulfills all FCC identification requirements.

Completing a Call

After the message has been sent, you would complete the call from Aid 3 by saying, “Aid 3, .” This fulfills your station identification requirements and tells the NCS that you believe the exchange to be complete.
If the Net Control Station believes the exchange is complete, and Aid 3 had forgotten to identify, then the NCS should say, “Aid 3, do you have further traffic?” At that point, Aid 3 should either continue with the traffic, or “clear” by identifying as indicated above.
For this method to work properly, the NCS must allow each station the opportunity to identify at the close of an exchange.

A Review of Habits to Avoid

    • Thinking aloud on the air: “Ahhh, let me see. Hmm. Well, you know, if …”
    • On-air arguments, criticism, or rambling commentaries
    • Shouting into your microphone
    • “Cute” phonetics
    • Identifying every time you key or un-key the mic
    • Using “10” codes, Q-signals on phone, or anything other than “plain language”
    • Speaking without planning your message in advance
    • Talking just to pass the time