CAARA is an ARRL affiliated Special
Service Club located at 6 Stanwood St.
in Gloucester Massachusetts.

CAARA Emergency Operations Handbook 2012

About this manual

This manual is designed for field use by Cape Ann Amateur Radio Association (CAARA) members in a communications emergency or in proficiency drills. It is written by amateurs, for amateurs, for use in situations where there is actual or potential risk to the public, the participating amateur radio operator, or to emergency responders acting in the public interest.

The authors make no claim that the instructions in this manual are totally correct, compliant with all applicable guidances, or represent the best way to solve communications problems in emergency situations. They are simply the best we know how to do at this time.

If you find errors or have suggestions on how to improve this manual, PLEASE contact the Clerk of CAARA at and let us know. We will be very grateful.

If you are interested in improving your emergency skills, serving your community in times of danger, or in becoming a ham operator, please contact Curtis Wright, AA3JE, (978) 546-6698 or Chuck Downey, N1OCT (978) 546-4608.

EmComm Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month. The next regular EmComm Meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 6:00pm.

Table of Contents

Overview of CAARA Emergency Services

CAARA is a volunteer organization. CAARA is not large enough, by itself, to provide complete communications support to Gloucester in the event of a major disaster or loss of communications emergency. What we do is to provide support to first responders, deploy to meet the emergency need, then use our communications capacity to call for help to the North Shore Repeater Association, ARES, RACES and MEMA Region 1.

We have the following resources:

  1. A communications facility at 6 Stanwood Street which has VHF and HF operating stations, emergency heat and power, and sufficient pre-placed supplies to support the physical needs of a communications team (food, shelter, rest facilities, phone, fax, repair equipment).
  2. Members who have volunteered to serve in emergency shelters and field positions who have mobile VHF, mobile UHF, and limited mobile HF capacity.
  3. All members have VHF HT capacity.
  4. Pre-planned loss of communications emergency protocols to support Gloucester and Magnolia, with liaison to Rockport.

Our mission statement is to support the community by providing volunteer emergency communications support to the limits of our physical and logistic capacity.

Limitations of CAARA Volunteers

CAARA volunteers are limited by the regulations governing their licenses. We provide communications support, and only communications support in time of need.

  • We cannot accept payment of any kind.
  • We cannot support “for-profit” activities.
  • We cannot serve as alternatives to ordinary commercial services.
  • We cannot help, as an organization, in providing police services, fire services, DPW and utility services, transportation or care of the sick. Individual members can and do act in these capacities, but must do so as individual community members, not as representatives of CAARA.

In the event of an actual emergency, CAARA equipment, the 6 Stanwood street facility and all on-site equipment is at the disposal of the City, who has primary authority in its use in support of the public safety. CAARA Emergency Communications members are deployed by call out of Gloucester’s CERT (Communications Emergency Response Team) leader or by Gloucester Emergency Management.

CAARA also has an Emergency Communications Trailer which can be deployed at any disaster location. The trailer is fully stocked with equipment in the back and has a radio room available in the front.

Kinds of Emergencies

CAARA has had experience in several kinds of emergency missions;

  • Day-to-Day & Minor Emergencies - These are situations such as the search for a lost or injured person, a winter loss of power emergency in one part of Gloucester, severe storms or costal flooding, or any other situation where Gloucester requires communications support.

    These situations are now being handled using the Incident Command System strategy at the local level. Gloucester contacts CAARA, CAARA mobilizes the volunteers, Net and Net Control stations are established, and CAARA supports communications for the duration of the emergency or until relieved by regional organizations.

  • Major Emergencies - These are situations where the emergency extends beyond Gloucester and local resources are inadequate, such as a hurricane or perhaps a winter storm with loss of power across the region. In these situations the ARES and RACES systems are activated, MEMA Region 1 activates, and CAARA mounts full communications support to the EOCs, activated shelters, Addison Gilbert Hospital, and acts as liaison to regional communications teams.

  • Catastrophic Emergencies - This class of mission is post 9/11 and Katrina, and envisions a situation where a large scale disaster such as pandemic influenza has overwhelmed local and regional resources due to its nature, extent, severity or duration. In these situations it is anticipated that CAARA would operate in full deployment mode in the initial stages (shelter-in-place), activate the Net and Net Control station at 6 Stanwood Street, then integrate with regional, state and federal resources as they became available. The principal difference between this and a regional event is that outside help may be anticipated to be slow or non-existent in the early stages of the event, and logistical support for the communications teams will be CAARA’s resources.

Net Control Procedures

CAARA operates the Net Control position using the National Incident Command System protocols.

While the preferred physical location for Net Control is 6 Stanwood Street, Net Control is automatically established by the first station which is activated.

For a drill where action will be taken that might alarm the public, it is essential that the Gloucester and Rockport police be notified BEFORE the drill. Gloucester is (978) 283-1212, Rockport is (978) 546-1212.

At the start of the drill and every 10 minutes thereafter say:
“The Cape Ann Amateur Radio Association is conducting an emergency communications drill on the 145.13 repeater frequency for the next (duration). This is only a drill. In the event of an actual emergency radio amateurs would be requested to monitor this station and should contact net control when requested.”

For an actual emergency say:
“The Cape Ann Amateur Radio Association is conducting emergency communications in support of the City of Gloucester on the 145.13 repeater frequency. This is not a drill. Radio amateur volunteers are requested to monitor this station and to contact net control when requested.”

General Principles for Net Control

  1. Get out the emergency map (in the jump kits and next to the 2-meter repeater in the club.
  2. Establish land-line communications with the acting logistics chief for the incident for the city (start with the fire and police departments and go from there). If land-lines are out, monitor Gloucester Fire/Police Frequencies and send a runner to the Police Station.
  3. Find out what stations the City wants activated and start calling via radio, land phone lines and cell phones to round up the needed volunteers.
  4. Activate 6 Stanwood Street with a net control operator and a clerk-recorder to talk on the phone, input messages and record the event.
  5. Record the arrivals of individuals on station on the situation map and begin operation.
  6. Remember net protocols. You call stations, they call you, and every transmission is acknowledged.
  7. Turn over to your relief when appropriate, MAKING SURE you provide him or her with a written situation briefing and record of turnover.

Emergency Site Procedures

  1. Once activated, contact NET CONTROL when they ask for it. If you have problems use land-lines, cell phones (if working), fax machines or any other means to find out where you have to be. The 6 Stanwood Street phone number is: (978) 282-7645.
  2. Once you have your assigned location grab your jump bag and depart. If it is a brief deployment take a message pad, HT, spare battery, charger and your car with your mobile unit. If it is anticipated to be an extended deployment we will get someone to you with an emergency kit and supplies.
  3. When NET CONTROL asks, or when you are on station and the frequency is quiet, call net control and announce your arrival.
  4. Thereafter you call net control when you have a message for them and they call you when they have a message for you.
  5. Acknowledge all transmissions which contain messages. Assume that if net control does not say “received” that they did not hear you.
  6. We strongly urge you to use the message forms. Don’t do so if it’s foolish or to record “housekeeping” messages, but if a city employee wants a message sent, we want a written record of the message.
  7. Try to draft a bystander to help you, they usually will, and if you need more support, ask for it.
  8. Net control is responsible for your food, power, supplies and relief. If you need something at your station to continue to be effective, let net control know.
  9. Relax, treat it like a very unusual kind of civic event, know that you have done it all before, and help those people talk to each other.

NOTE: If you are working the disaster and cutting brush, shoveling stuff, driving people around, or escorting people to safety, you are NOT doing your job. Your job is to ensure that if the City needs to pass a message, they have someone there that can do so. If citizens need help, call for that help.


Incident Command System Operations

The national incident management system (NIMS) is a mandatory system of disaster management built on the Incident Command System. Any state, regional or local organization which accepts Federal funding must use this system.

All CAARA emergency volunteers should be trained and certified in the FEMA ICS 200 and NIMS via the free club training and the free Internet courses. We expect, however, that when an actual emergency occurs, that knowledge may be difficult to recall. Hence this shorthand description. The FEMA documents on the system are in 6 Stanwood Street, available for ready reference.

The Incident Command System is a pre-planned, pre-positioned and organizational strategy and structure which allows different emergency responders to work effectively with a unified command structure, a manageable span of control, using a common vocabulary, and using resources effectively with good communications.

The ICS organization is built on there being a single INCIDENT COMMANDER who has OPERATIONS, PLANNING, LOGISTICS and FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION sections reporting to him or her as the incident builds.

CAARA volunteers report to the LOGISTICS section, if one has been activated and on site. You CHECK IN (once), find your (ONE) supervisor, obtain a briefing and begin work. For Major & Catastrophic Emergencies CAARA mobilizes under ARES/RACES and reports to MEMA Region 1.

If deployed, you pass messages as required to support the mission, and remember two things:

  1. You have one boss, the LOGISTICS section chief or whoever is fulfilling that function.
  2. You are NOT, repeat NOT in charge of media relations, public relations, or any kind of public or media communications. Please refer all such questions to the INCIDENT COMMAND STAFF Public Information Officer (handles public inquiry) or the LIAISON OFFICER (handles organizational inquiry) or the INCIDENT COMMANDER (if no staff yet designated).
  3. You have no information, opinion, suggestions or other comments to offer. Your job is to make sure the message traffic gets through.
  4. Don’t forget to check out, you do not want people risking their lives looking for you at the scene when you are at home.


CAARA volunteers have THEIR OWN SAFETY, CARE AND COMFORT as their primary responsibility. This is not because we are cowards, far from it, but it is just common sense. We cannot be effective in helping others if our participation means that scarce initial resources are used to transport, clothe, equip, feed and maintain the volunteers, not the victims.

Your primary resource is your car. If you have a blanket and a car with a mobile radio and at least a half a tank of gas you are already a mobile communications station. You will find it difficult, however, to take your car into the shelter with you.

So the first piece of emergency equipment you will need is a JUMP BAG. A JUMP BAG is whatever kind of container you choose, stocked with what you will need to support yourself for 24 hours. A good discussion can be found in the ARRL Emergency Communications Handbook (available at 6 Stanwood Street), but this means a sweatshirt, gloves, hat, waterproof outer garment (CAARA EMERGENCY SLICKER is preferred), spare glasses, necessary medication (yours), flashlight, message forms, 2-meter HT WITH MANUAL!, spare battery, battery charger, AA cell tray for your handheld and pack of batteries, PL-259 adapter for the HT, a mobile 2-meter antenna with 25 feet of COAX, pliers, screwdriver, and electrical tape. We also recommend 3 bottles of water and at least 3 of the candy or power bars of your choice. Keep the JUMP BAG where you can get to it, we recommend the trunk of your car.

While an HT with 25 feet of COAX, a battery charger and a good portable antenna is a great start, longer or more severe emergencies will require more equipment. EMCOM kits, as developed by N1OCT, are a great next step. These are boxes, bags, plastic buckets or “store-bought” systems which have a mobile unit (VHF, VHF/UHF or ALL BAND), a battery, a 110 volt to 12 volt charger, COAX, CABLES, TOOLS, MANUALS and message material (forms, pens, flashlight) suitable for a short-term mission. If you don’t have an EMCOM kit, please stop by the club. We have plans, sources, some materials and are holding sessions on how to build them.

In the event of an actual emergency, your EMCOM bucket will be the basis for the relief supplies for the volunteers manning the shelters. They depend on you, as does the public. Remember the time your HT radio’s battery crashed during the Horribles parade? In an actual event, we will have to run new setups to the shelters, and we expect to need you to volunteer your gear if we need it.

Engaging CAARA Emergency Services

CAARA emergency services are engaged by radio (145.130 MHZ with no PL tone) or by land line to any of the Officers or Board of Directors. As of 2012 these are:

Name Home Work Cell

Each CAARA member has a list of the membership and a recall tree is regularly prepared and available from the 6 Stanwood Street address and/or the clerk of CAARA at .

Response to a Local Emergency

  1. CAARA is activated by City Officials by contacting the first available individual on the recall list.
  2. The receiving party assumes the role of net control and determines from the City Contact who is the INCIDENT COMMANDER and how many stations must be activated.
  3. The receiving party announces the emergency on the repeater (145.130) and contacts as many members as are needed for the initial response, giving them suggested site assignments, trying for minimal travel distance for the volunteers.
  4. The receiving party (or designate) drives to the 6 Stanwood Street address and sets up net control.
  5. The volunteers drive to the designated sites and check into the net.
  6. The net provides communications support, directing late volunteers to 6 Stanwood.
  7. As additional volunteers arrive at 6 Stanwood, they prepare and organize additional sites, supply of material and relief to the operational sites, and manage the incident.
  8. If the incident appears to have the potential for going regional, the personnel at 6 Stanwood Street notify NSRA and MEMA Region 1 when contacted by MEMA or at the direction of the LOGISTICS chief or INCIDENT COMANNDER.

NSRA contact information

MEMA Region 1 contact information

Response to a Regional Emergency

The response to a regional emergency differs only in that NSRA and MEMA may initiate a CAARA response and it is likely that many more sites will be initiated.

  1. After CAARA has the net up, the services of the net are turned over to MEMA, ARES and RACES.
  2. CAARA services beyond manning the net are initiated. 6 Stanwood Street is activated as a Communications Command Post, acting as a Staging Area for ready resources and as a Communications Base for out of service resources.
  3. The House Committee sets up the downstairs area as a meals, rest and logistical supply base, shifting communications to the upstairs position. Meals, meeting areas and logistical support of Shelter and Field teams becomes a major club activity, with Net Control remaining at 6 Stanwood or moving to the Incident Command Post at the direction of the Incident Commander.
  4. After the Incident, 6 Stanwood Street is the demobilization and de-briefing area, providing non-local resources with phone, fax, word-processing and radio resources to enable an orderly after action demobilization.

Major and Extended Emergencies

Major deployments are an extension of Regional deployments. They differ in extent and duration.

  1. During major deployments the shelter resources at 6 Stanwood are utilized to provide a respite area for communications personnel.
  2. During long-term deployments, especially pandemic deployments, 6 Stanwood Street is used as a Quarantined Respite Center.
  3. CAARA members not working the field or net stations take over logistical supply of 6 Stanwood Street, providing re-supply of food, clean clothing, consumables and fuel for the duration.
  4. In major loss of communication emergencies (VHF and UHF repeater systems not functioning), the HF station is used to maintain regional communications to the MEMA bunker.

Gloucester Emergency Posts & Shelters Overview

Gloucester has a well-developed emergency contingency communication system, with the lead agency being the Gloucester CERT Team.

There are 13 communications sites for residents in the in the Gloucester plan, with seven added locations (the Fuller School, the Rockport High School, Addison Gilbert Hospital, the Coast Guard Station, Gloucester DPW, Gloucester High School and Stage Fort Park) in the CAARA mission area.

This list is not all-inclusive (the spring 2006 flooding included the Gloucester DPW, Lanesville is developing capacity at the Lanesville Community Center and Anesquam may require additional support), but it is a generally recognized and publicized list of sites to be covered.

Communications Sites
Police Headquarters, 197 Main Street
Fire Headquarters, 8 School Street
Bay View Fire Station, 891 Washington Street
West Gloucester Fire Station, 33 Concord Street
Magnolia Fire Station, 30 Fuller Street
Cape Ann Amateur Radio Association (CAARA), 6 Stanwood Street
Eastern Point Road & Farrington Avenue
Eastern Main Street & Route 128
Lanesville Post Office, 1068 Washington Street
Atlantic Street entrance to private section Wingaersheek Beach (Stone Pillars)
Magnolia Avenue and Kondelin Road
Western Avenue & Hough Avenue at Boudreau Field Parking lot
West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, 488 Essex Avenue
The Fuller School, 4 Schoolhouse Road (Primary Emergency Shelter Gloucester)
Addison Gilbert Hospital, Washington Street (Primary Medical Resource)
Rockport High School (Emergency Shelter Rockport)
Gloucester High School
Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street Gloucester
The Coast Guard Station, Harbor Loop
Stage Fort Park

Maps to each of these locations follow, along with driving directions and any site-specific resources.

Regional Communications

CAARA is in Sector 1F of AREAS/RACES.
Primary NWS Skywarn Frequency145.470 - (PL 136.5) (default 145.470 simplex)
Primary RACES Frequency147.39 +
Statewide Frequency53.31 - Mt. Wachusett PL 162.2/71.9 input, 100 output
Mass State RACES7245 + LSB


Useful Contacts
Terry Stader
RACES Region 1
HOME: (978) 692-2069
CELL: (978) 490-8150
Eric Horwitz KA1NCF
(978) 828-0460
Rob Macedo KD1CY
EMA ARRL SEC and Skywarn
(508) 259-9123

Extended Operations
(Food, Water, Shelter and Supplies)

Members supporting CAARA Emergency Services maintain emergency stocks of food, water, batteries, cooking fuel, motor fuel, emergency generators and radio parts. For fire and security reasons most of this material is kept in the member’s homes, ready for transport to 6 Stanwood Street in an extended operation.

See Curtis Wright (AA3JE) or Chuck Downey (N1OCT) if you are new or have not yet built up your emergency supplies.

At 6 Stanwood Street there is emergency water, food (24 person-days), blankets, communications supplies and tools adequate for a short-term emergency. As the emergency becomes longer-term, the Club House Committee is tasked with re-supply to the emergency sites and to the 6 Stanwood Street Facility.

Most of the fuel storage is in the tanks of the member’s vehicles (for safety reasons). Emergency siphons are available at the club for fuel transfer as are EMPTY gas cans. Use care in siphoning as the fire damage is extreme, and NEVER siphon by mouth.


The propane emergency stoves are NOT safe for indoor use, and all PROPANE must be stored outside.

We will be of no value to the city is we set ourselves on fire as our opening contribution to Gloucester Emergency Services.

Pre-Planned Equipment Failure Scenarios

2-Meter Repeater Troubleshooting

The 2-meter repeater is dependent on the cell-site emergency power. In a severe or protracted emergency it is likely to fail. It is also possible that in the turmoil of an actual loss of cell service disaster, the repeater may be turned off in error.

Notify Bob Quinn WV1A or Stan Stone W4HIX and use Loss of Repeater procedures until the repeater is fixed.

Loss of the 2-meter Repeater

If the 2-meter repeater fails or is subject to malicious interference, Net Control should shift to the stand-by simplex frequencies:

Stand-by simplex Frequency #1: 146.520
Stand-by simplex Frequency #2: 146.430

Net control will then call and establish what stations can hear and respond, map those on the situation map, then ask near by stations ONE AT A TIME to try to establish contact with out-of-range stations. This will establish a relay net, and operations may resume.

After the net is operating, Net Control will break out the 220 MHZ jump kits and have them run to the operational sites. If there are not enough 220 kits, the backup 440 repeater will be activated to support activities.

Loss of power @ 6 Stanwood Street

  1. Switch operations to battery backup power.
  2. Move generator to porch and fuel or hook up to outside gas line.
  3. Flip transfer switch to generator position.
  4. Run power cord and start generator.

Click here for a printable copy of the Handbook.