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After-Action Report of Simulated Emergency Test 2019

posted Nov 11, 2019, 2:40 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Central Ohio Traffic Net's After-Action Report (AAR) for the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) 2019 is now available from the collection of COTN Reports. As reported to ARRL earlier, we had a high level of activity this year, moving a total of 122 messages, including some agency traffic delivered as populated ICS-213 General Message forms. Over two days of operation, we had 37 unique stations join the nets, 25 of which were on emergency (non-grid) power. Of the 37 stations, 13 were new licensees since 2015, seven acted as net control stations for at least one session, and seven acted as NTS traffic net liaisons.

Five minutes short of 26 hours of operation, SET nets highlighted both strengths and weaknesses of COTN specifically and of the traffic system in Ohio generally. Assessment of those strengths and weaknesses led to several recommendations.

Strengths identified include our ability to fill a schedule of more than twelve hours per day for two days, effective use of repeater systems, clear and consistent use of directed nets, maintaining circuits to agency stations at Ohio EMA, Franklin County EMA, and Ohio Military Reserve, maintaining liaison with other voice nets, prompt and complete session reporting, and good delivery of traffic by phone, email, and in person.

Operation also identified areas for improvement, namely limited effective footprint in simplex operations, some difficulty in switching between directed and free nets, ambiguities in net control logs, limited use of available circuits to move traffic in parallel, limited number of liaison stations, limited number of stations able to operate in CW and digital modes, and a need for improved procedure for handling traffic originated from and to be delivered in standardized forms such as the ICS-213.

Nineteen recommendations followed:
  1. Create improved system for calling and maintaining emergency mode operation.
  2. Make regular use of all repeaters identified in our SOP.
  3. Conduct more simplex nets.
  4. Create a simplex coverage map of our served area.
  5. Continue to operate directed nets.
  6. Eliminate requirement for directed net.
  7. Conduct free nets.
  8. Establish procedure for switching between directed nets and free nets.
  9. Continue operations with W8SGT.
  10. Continue operations with W8OMR.
  11. Move stations to other circuits for relay.
  12. Coordinate with FCACC to provide net control operators.
  13. Train and encourage operators in HF voice traffic handling.
  14. Encourage CW operators.
  15. Encourage NTSD/DTN operators.
  16. Train in logging.
  17. Encourage non-voice modes.
  18. Encourage liaison stations.
  19. Ensure that message delivery is exercised at agencies such as Franklin County EMA.
The complete report is available from the COTN Reports collection as AAR SET 2019.

COTN thanks everyone for their participation and looks forward to developing the training plan for calendar year 2020 and making other recommended changes that will improve performance in ensuring that amateur radio remains ready and capable for public service.

Volunteers Needed: CERT Exercise Thursday 24 October 2019

posted Oct 21, 2019, 6:31 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Franklin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is conducting an exercise and is in need of volunteers as follows:
  • Radio Operators
  • Victim Players
When: Thursday 24 October 2019 from 1800-2200 (6-10p)
Where: Blendon Woods MetroPark ~ 4265 East Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus, Ohio, 43081

Contact KD8TTE by noon Thursday if you want to participate. Do not arrive without first being confirmed.

Radio Operators: Radio operators are needed to be positioned with CERT and to relay information back to the Incident Command Post (ICP) in the field, as well as from the ICP to the Assessment Center at Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security. Ideally radio operators should be CERT qualified and carry certificates for FEMA/EMI IS 100, 200, 700, 800, and 802. If you're volunteering as a radio operator, please indicate which of those qualifications you carry.

Victim Players: We also need volunteers to play the role of victims. You'll get moulage (injury makeup) and need to act out symptoms as described to you by exercise controllers.

The activity will involve multiple teams of graduating CERT volunteers, working with live "victims," conducting damage assessment, field assessment and transportation of victims to treatment, fire fighting, utility control, search and rescue markings, and cribbing.

Communication will be particularly important to ensure that the Incident Commander on scene and Area Command back at the Assessment Center have a current and complete operating picture. Expect to operate simplex from HTs and to work from an ICS-205, to relay tactical traffic, and to record activity on forms like the ICS 214.

If you want to participate in either capacity contact KD8TTE at by noon Thursday. You'll need to be confirmed ahead of time to participate.

Best Recorded SET Performance

posted Oct 12, 2019, 6:06 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) has posted the best performance for SET in possession of the Net Manager's records.

For the 2019 SET, our final tabulated records show:
 Sessions: 28
 Checkins: 186
 Traffic: 122 (breakdown: 12 priority, 33 welfare, 71 routine, 6 ICS-213)
 Time: 25 hours, 55 minutes
 Unique stations participating: 37
 Unique stations on emergency power: 25
 Unique new stations (licensed since 2015): 13
 Unique net control stations: 7
 Unique liaisons to NTS nets: 7

Total points, using the League's multiples, 355. The closest we got in points before was 263, in 2015. The official Form B 2019 report to the League is available in our Reports section of the web site.

Watch the Reports section of the web site for the complete After-Action Report/Improvement Plan in the coming days.

The Morning After SET 2019 (First Thoughts)

posted Oct 7, 2019, 5:28 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

This past weekend, Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) participated in the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET). We'll release a complete report of COTN exercise objectives, activity, performance, and training objectives by this time next month. Meanwhile, I want to report on a few initial thoughts and to ask for your help.

First, a reminder of why COTN exists: We train amateur radio operators to handle messages for other people and provide a connection between Central Ohio and the rest of the world of third-party message handling via amateur radio. It simply isn't possible for everyone who needs to talk to be directly in touch with everyone they need to reach at all times, which is why the store-and-forward model used by the "traffic system" (and most Internet messaging, for that matter) is so important.

We designed COTN's operation for SET to provide a circuit to allow for messages to flow. We provided outlets for the Ohio EMA (W8SGT) and through it the rest of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the Ohio Military Reserve (W8OMR) and through it military and government stations operating in other radio services, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security (W8THV), as well as the traffic system.

We didn't meet just once a day and handle whatever traffic had queued up for us. Knowing that an emergency was present (in simulation), we established operation according to our procedures and made the circuit available. Stations joined as they had the need to connect to any of our outlets, whether to send or to receive. If traffic came in, it could be handled in order of precedence. If traffic got too heavy to move on one circuit, net control directed stations to other frequencies so several messages could move simultaneously. 

Our operation was nearly continuous from six o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the evening, with a few extra messages passed in special midnight sessions for good measure. Our schedule allowed for our net control operators, liaison stations, and so on to rotate duties so that COTN could provide continuous service without requiring operators individually to sit at the radio continuously for fourteen hour days. Operators worked collaboratively with each other, covering gaps in the schedule, running long sessions so the next operator could conclude other business and then take over, and taking unscheduled roles. Experienced traffic handlers and brand-new licensees alike helped one another to get the job done. Some operators received, created, and relayed messages for the very first time during this year's SET.

COTN's operation was a great example of how it should work. I have never been more proud of COTN and each of the people who participated.

With a few session reports yet to be filed, our preliminary statistics are outstanding. Using the reports filed as of eight o'clock Monday morning, we can show:

Net Control Stations5
Liaison Stations7

Again, these are the numbers just after we've operated. We're still waiting on reports from two more net control stations. They're all going up from here as the stats compile.

Here's the part where I can use a little more help.

Please send me by email ( your thoughts. What did you like about SET operation? What should have gone differently? Did anything confuse you, or otherwise leave you with questions? What do you hope comes out of this? Where do you think we should focus our training and exercises for the next year? All of this will be considered as we create our after-action report and develop the training and exercise plan for the coming year.

Again, thank you for your participation.

C. Matthew Curtin KD8TTE
Central Ohio Traffic Net, Net Manager

COTN Net Control and Liaison Stations Needed 5-6 Oct SET

posted Sep 29, 2019, 4:26 AM by C. Matthew Curtin   [ updated Sep 29, 2019, 4:27 AM ]

Just about one week away from the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET), Central Ohio Traffic Net is now looking to complete the operating schedule. We are in need of net control and liaison stations.

Our plan this year is to operate as follows:
  • Midnight session, SET format net, closed once traffic and business has concluded.
  • Continuous operation starting 0600, concluding 2059 Saturday and 1959 Sunday.
    • At the start of each hour, the net control station will read the SET preamble and run the net.
    • Once all traffic and business has been concluded, net control will advise all stations that they are free to leave the frequency if they like.
    • Liaison stations may leave the frequency to join other nets for movement of traffic, and rejoin as traffic comes in.
    • Net control will advise that "the net is free," meaning that stations may call each other directly but that net control remains in control of the frequency to enforce discipline and to ensure that traffic can move.
    • Net control closes the net at 59 minutes after the hour, allowing the next net control station to start a directed net at the top of the hour.
  • Each session is reported separately through both the normal net reports, and the special SET reports.
Whether you can handle duty for one shift in one position or are available all day, please complete our form to advise us of your availability and station capability. Thank you!

Volunteers needed for SET 5-6 October 2019

posted Aug 25, 2019, 6:10 AM by C. Matthew Curtin   [ updated Sep 14, 2019, 7:57 AM ]

The ARRL Ohio Section will hold its annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) on the first full weekend of October, 5-6. If you are a COTN operator, please use the COTN Call for Volunteers

If you are not a COTN operator, please proceed.

Exercise planners need actors who can play the role(s) of:
  • traffic originators, e.g., a station operating at an emergency location originating traffic on behalf of affected members of the public,
  • traffic addressees, e.g., friends and family to whom welfare radiograms can be directed (no amateur radio license needed—a good opportunity for participation by CERT and other unlicensed volunteers), and
  • relay stations, e.g., operators who can accept traffic from one net and take it to another on an emergency basis.
If you are interested, please complete the form below to indicate your interest and likely availability. At this point we're not looking for commitments—we're trying to gauge interest and where we'll have the best coverage for the various roles we need.

Field Day June 22–23, 2019!

posted May 1, 2019, 5:10 AM by C. Matthew Curtin   [ updated May 1, 2019, 5:12 AM ]

The Central Ohio Traffic Net will join Franklin County Auxiliary Communications Club in the operation of W8THV for Field Day, June 22–23, 2019. Whether you can visit for an hour or the entire operating period, please sign up with the form below to coordinate.


Thanks for Support on NVIS Day!

posted Apr 28, 2019, 1:41 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

Yesterday, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security auxiliary communications station W8THV participated in NVIS Day. We operated a field expedient station, all outdoors, powered by battery backed by solar recharger and made contacts throughout the state.

Thanks for the support of the operation!

NVIS Day at Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security

posted Apr 17, 2019, 5:34 PM by C. Matthew Curtin   [ updated Apr 21, 2019, 6:58 PM ]

COTN will be operating for NVIS Day, April 27, 2019, at Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security, 5300 Strawberry Farms Blvd, Columbus, OH 43230. We'll begin setup at 9 A.M., with operations starting at 10 A.M., and complete operations at 4 P.M.

As one of the auxiliary communications (AUXCOMM) organizations supporting Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security (FCEM&HS), Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) will be joining the Franklin County Auxiliary Communications Club (FCACC) operation of W8THV for NVIS Day.

Other organizations will be joining with the FCACC operation, working together under the principle of Unified Command in the Incident Command System (ICS). Supporting FCACC will be Franklin County Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Central Ohio Traffic Net, and the Ohio Military Reserve—which will be operating W8OMR/F from the site.

NVIS Day at FCEM&HS is a warm-up for a much larger exercise with a distinct emergency-mode spin to it, ARRL Field Day in June. Whether you're able to operate the entire six hours of the event or come by just for an hour, you're welcome to join. There's no signup necessary. Just bring yourself, a copy of your amateur radio license, and sign in at the site to be put to work in an area that you'd like. We look forward to seeing you there!

To see stations currently registered to participate in NVIS Day throughout the state of Ohio and beyond see the map below.

NVIS Day, Apr 27

posted Apr 13, 2019, 5:13 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

Saturday, April 27, 2019
10 A.M.–4 P.M.

Is your station ready to establish and maintain high-reliability communication with other stations around Ohio when repeaters, phone, and internet service are impaired? When infrastructure just isn’t there, HF radio using Near-Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) propagation offers the ability to stay in contact on frequencies of 2–30 MHz for distances of about 30–400 miles.

NVIS Day is the ARRL Ohio Section event to test your NVIS antenna designs and builds. Join us on Saturday, April 27 to show how well amateur radio can keep Ohio communicating! This is not a contest: it’s an event for Ohio stations to operate with other Ohio stations and understand how well they hear and are heard.


Date: Saturday, April 27
Time: Start at 10 A.M., end at 4 P.M.
Power: Up to but no more than 100w
Exchange: six-digit grid, power, and true—measured—signal report
Schedule: This isn’t a contest, so take your time! Try different designs! Have lunch!
Register: Tell others that you’ll be operating, when you’ll be operating, and how to find you.

We’ll publish a map and information for all registered stations just before the start of the event.

We look forward to hearing you on the air!

C. Matthew Curtin KD8TTE ASEC
Stan Broadway, N8BHL SEC

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