COTN Training With CERT, October 2018

In emergencies and disasters, the usual means of communications are often stressed beyond their limits. Amateur radio operators provide their time, expertise, and equipment to ensure that the public and the agencies serving the public can communicate. As part of the National Traffic System and an affiliate of Radio Relay International, the Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) provides the critical service of originating, relaying, and delivering messages for others.


On Thursday, October 18, 2018, Franklin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will conduct an exercise, performing light search and rescue (LSAR) for neighbors affected by a disaster. Victims will be rescued, assessed, and moved either for medical treatment, or to a shelter where they can be kept warm and safe. With communications infrastructure not working and victims' friends and family worried, COTN will join CERT's LSAR operation to get messages out from victims after they've been triaged and are awaiting transport.

Concept of Operation

As the community organizes its response to disaster, CERT organizes an Incident Command Post, dispatches teams to find neighbors in need of assistance, and establishes an area for victims to be assessed and prepared for transport either to the hospital or to a shelter. At CERT's request, COTN is joining the response effort.

COTN will position radio operators with CERT at the victims' staging for transport area. Victims wishing to send a short message to someone out of the affected area may do so via a COTN radio operator on-site. The on-site operator will be on a net with other radio operators who will receive and relay those messages to other nets, continuing a process of relaying the message by radio until the message reaches the intended recipient. Because this is happening in the hours after a disaster, we will be taking no incoming traffic.

Roles and Responsibilities

Station of Origin. Express the victim's message in a short, unambiguous form, the victim's name, and the name, city, state, ZIP code, and phone number of the intended recipient for the message. Put the information into a properly formatted amateur message, prepared for relay.

Deployed Relay Station.

Take the written messages from the originating operator to the net. Check into COTN and when directed by Net Control, transmit the message for the receiving station to pick up.

Net Control Station.

Monitor the designated frequency, and ensure that messages being brought to the net are moved to a station that can take them from the net and move them on closer to their ultimate destination. See detailed net control for exercise session instructions.

Relay Station.

Take the message from a relay station (such as a deployed relay station). Take the message to another net that will have another relay station closer to the addressee and relay the message when instructed.

Delivery Station.

Take the message from a net to an addressee in the local area. Place a phone call if possible to the addressee, remembering that the addressee is not expecting you to call, does not know who you are, and is a member of the public who likely knows nothing about amateur radio. Turn ARL numbered radiograms (e.g., "ARL FIVE") into the equivalent text (e.g., "Am moving to new location. Send no further mail or communication. Will inform you of new address when relocated"), and read the message so the addressee understands it. Be prepared to answer any question that the addressee has.


For the purpose of exercise play, we will have several important components of the exercise that will be artificial.

    1. The Station of Origin will be simulated. All messages will already be written and handed to deployed relay stations.
    2. All addressees will actually be the same phone number, with different names. The phone number will lead to a voicemail system where the delivering station will be able to leave a message, stating whom the message is for, who sent it, and what it says. The messages will be transcribed and compared against the originals to measure the fidelity and speed of message relay and delivery.


Note: Subject to change.