- Written by Brian Keahl
- Category: Emergency Communications
- Published: 16 July 2015
- Hits: 1465
Every task we perform in life gets better with repetition, and being a Net Control station is no different. So, the best way to be good at it is to do it periodically to hone your skills. Of course, you may be thinking to yourself, I have no interest in being a net control station and I could go through life just fine without giving it a try.
That is true! You could make a conscious effort to never ever be a net control station. There are people who never bother to learn to swim and make a conscious effort to just avoid it, counting on never finding themselves in deep water. Most will get away with it, but it doesn't work out so well for the one who breaks from the odds.
In an emergency situation there is no telling who will be available for any particular task at a given moment. Perhaps the typical net control persons are affected by the emergency, or the only net control station has equipment failures. For that reason, most all emergency response plans include the policy that ANY amateur radio operator is authorized and expected to initiate a net and act as NCS if circumstances warrant it.
Many of our newer hams won't recall the constant tornado weather conditions we had several years ago. It seemed we were having nets almost every day and quite often without warning. The Carroll ARES Weather Net Protocol, which is available on the nets page of wgars.com as well at wx4bk.com, states:
Activation or escalation of any net may also be made at the discretion of any qualified amateur radio operator willing to assume net control status when no existing net is in operation.
If you're the first on the repeater and conditions warrant one of the three forms of Weather Nets we run, you can (and should), start the net and act as NCS, at least until someone appears to relieve you.
So, we've established you may need to assume the NCS position at some point. Well, one thing is for sure, it won't be under normal circumstances, which means stress will probably make the task harder. One way to ensure you will perform well in less than ideal conditions is to practice when conditions are a little more favorable, like a weekly net.
Weekly nets provide practicing listening, logging, and directing activity on the net when circumstances are potentially hazardous. You'll learn your weak and strong points, get practice logging check-ins, and figure out real quick that even under ideal circumstances you'll make a misstep. An even better lesson is that half the time nobody but you noticed the mistake, and even if they did, you won't be publicly flogged for it!
So please, take the opportunity to be a Net Control Station on a weekly net and get a feel for what it's like to call a net. Not only will the practice let you hone some new skills, you'll be better prepared to take on the role if circumstances dictate!