Santa Clara County, CA ARES®/RACES

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Activity Descriptions

Countywide Communications Exercise &
Simulated Emergency Test (SET)
Saturday, 28-Sep-2019

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General Information

Activity Length: Except for scheduled activities (net control), each activity will take about an hour (+/-) to complete. The idea is to experience as many activities as possible while you're there. But if you want to continue with a particular activity for more than the standard timeframe, you are welcome to do so as long as other operators aren't waiting.

Evaluations for Credentials: Evaluations for SCCo ARES/RACES credentials (aka MAC qualifications) will be available. Be sure to select the correct option when signing up. And plan on at least an extra half hour to account for pre- and post-assignment briefings with the evaluator.

Field Operations


Two activities in one! Passing messages from a field location, such as a neighborhood CERTCommand Post, quickly and correctly is an important communication skill. At this session you’ll do two activities: 1) practice off-air, to properly pace yourself so your messages are received without errors. 2) Gain radio experience sending and receiving both informal and formal SantaClara County ICS-213 messages on the air. More experienced participants can go directly to activity 2. This session is ideal for new ARES/RACES operators and CERT Command Post radio staff who need a refresher.


Experience a simulated deployment to different field environments, such as a hospital, a shelter, or a department operations center. You’ll send different types of messages appropriate to the different simulated locations, such as hospital forms, allied health forms, and shelter forms. If you’re not familiar with how to voice some of the forms, mentors will be available to help. The most experienced operators will be able to show up, get a briefing, and get to it!

Evaluations for Credentials (F3, F2)

If you be participating in an evaluation for a credential, please sign up accordingly and plan for an extra 30 to 45 minutes beyond the 1 hour activity time to include assignment briefing, operation, shift relief briefing, and eval debrief.

Net Control


Interested in being a Net Controller but not sure how to get started? Feeling a bit timid about doing it for the first time? Or maybe you just want try it once for fun. Whatever your motivation, this activity will give you both the opportunity to try Net Control and the preparation and coaching that will assure your success.

You'll get experience in leading a Tactical net where operators are reporting from field positions, and in running a Resource net with operators travelling to their assignments. The experience will include practice, and advice as needed, on completing the appropriate logs for these activities. We'll supply all the forms and equipment that you'll need.


Individuals visiting this station will learn how to operate as both a net control and scribe in a no-stress, low to medium traffic net environment. You will gain experience in net control techniques, logging, and message handling procedures using various third-party message forms and operational traffic. Participants will come away with increased confidence in their Net Control skills and abilities.

Evaluations for Credentials (N3, N2)

If you be participating in an evaluation for a credential, please sign up accordingly and plan for an extra 30 to 45 minutes beyond the 2 hour activity time to include assignment briefing, operation, shift relief briefing, and eval debrief.

Packet Operations


New to packet? Don’t have a packet system, but would like to learn how to use one? We will have packet systems all set up ready to use. We will show you how to log into Outpost and how to select a form to fill out and make it ready to send. This will include a plain text message and one of the county special forms by packet. Our mentors will walk you through the process so you can do it on your own. You will then know enough to relieve an experienced operator when they need a break.


An old hand at packet? If you have your own station this is a chance to practice setting it up outdoors at a site with a generator or with your own batteries. If you don’t have your own station you can assemble the parts from a packet kit that we provide. You will get a chance to use the new PackItForms in a situation with interesting issues to resolve. If you bring your own packet station, make sure that you have installed Packet Installer V145C.

Evaluations for Credentials (P3, P2)

If you be participating in an evaluation for a credential, please sign up accordingly and plan for an extra 30 to 60 minutes beyond the nominal 60 minute activity time (i.e. total of 90 to 120 minutes) to include assignment briefing, station setup, operation, station tear down, shift relief briefing, and eval debrief.



Are you new to being a shadow? If you have recently taken the Shadowing Level III class and never had the opportunity to be the communicator for a principal, then this activity is for you. We will pair you up with an experienced principal who can also mentor you what it takes to be a shadow while you perform all radio communications on behalf of them.


Are you familiar with shadowing but want more practice? If you have been a shadow before, we will give you the opportunity to work at this event where we can pair you up with one of the event staff principals who have an intermediate level of radio traffic or move around between locations. This would simulate the conditions during a real event at a command post or shelter.

Evaluations for Credentials (S3, S2)

If you be participating in an evaluation for a credential, please sign up accordingly and plan for at least a one and a half hour "shift" including assignment briefing, meet & greet the principal, shift relief and debrief. We will most likely match the timing of eval shifts with the event staff scheduling.

Cross-band Repeat


Never used cross-band repeat before? Not even sure what it is? Come learn about what cross-band repeating is, how it works, and in what types of situations you may need to use it in the field. Mentors will explain how it works and show you how to set it up in different types of radios (hopefully, one that is similar to what you have). Then use it to send a message.


Know what cross-band repeat is? Maybe you’ve even set it up once or twice? Come experiment with configuring it on different types of radios. Learn which radios have which features. Also, explore other alternatives, such as lock-band repeat, and learn which alternative is best for different situations.

Radio Programming


You may be using a radio that someone else configured for you, or one that you programmed using computer software. That only works until you need to use a frequency not already stored in your radio. This activity will give you a "cheat sheet", and practice using it for contacting stations not already stored in your HT or mobile radio. The cheat sheet will be on paper as well as a file that you can download onto your smart device. We will include a list of stations for you to contact during this event as practice using what you have just learned. The instruction will be one-on-one using your own radio. We will have a collection of all the most popular HTs and mobile radios, so you can see how other radios are programmed if you are curious. Take-away: Practice, Practice, Practice.


As you become more active in being an Emergency Responder, you will be faced with operating radios other than your own. This activity will give you "cheat sheets" for all the common radios and practice using them. We will have a large collection of mobile and HTs for you to get experience operating and programming from the keypad.

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This page was last updated 21-Sep-2019