PLEASE NOTE: This message contains
information pertinent to the successful operation of the Regional Amateur
Radio Alert Net (RARAN) for British Columbia. Please check this frequently
as it is SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
The website address for
the page you are now reading is not listed or advertised but is intended for
the specific assistance of registered RARAN stations. Anyone wishing
general info in order to offer their assistance as volunteer stations should
be directed to the registration form page.
While this network could
conceivably be used in future to disseminate other information vital to the
ideal of public safety, its main purpose is to facilitate the distribution of
A special, secure email reflector has been
set up by RAC, using RAC facilities, to which each RARAN station is a member.
The RCMP has been given the address for
this reflector and will use it to advise stations of an AMBER Alert
sample below). That reflector is set up so that volunteer stations can
receive ONLY and the RCMP can transmit ONLY. The sole exceptions to that
set-up are the BC RARAN Manager and the RAC Vice President for
Field Services. Both will have the authority to send and
Following are some points to
assist you in your volunteer duties, based on questions and answers. If
you have further questions or suggestions, please contact the VPFS.
1) Q: I'm one of the
Regional stations. How will I know when an AMBER Alert has been issued?
advised that everyone on their distribution list, including the RARAN members,
will be sent an E-mail when an Alert has been issued. The same goes for
updates and cancellations. For this reason, whenever you are at or near
your station you should keep your computer on, with the E-mail program "up".
There are ways to set up an audible warning of incoming mail but that will be
your choice. Alternatively, or in addition to, you might consider having a
band radio tuned to a local station. However, there would be an obvious great
delay in getting any knowledge of an Alert other than by E-mail. In any
event, it is realized that you will not always be available. You are not
expected to sit by your computer waiting.
What am I supposed to transmit/distribute?
A: Start by
identifying yourself by call sign.
It is suggested that you
THIS IS A BRITISH COLUMBIA AMBER ALERT. URGENT! ALL STATIONS PLEASE COPY".
always going to be a description of all persons concerned -- victims
(children) and suspect(s) (adults) -- as well as of a vehicle and the last
known location. (CLICK
HERE to learn the exact criteria necessary for the
issue of an AMBER Alert.) You are to transmit/distribute the text of the
AMBER Alert EXACTLY as it appears
in the E-mail. This means you must NOT NOT NOT add anything of your
own to it or
alter its meaning in any way! This is very important and highly stressed by
police. Please remember that you are, in fact, assisting with an active
criminal investigation, one which has the potential to result in a homicide. There
may be instances where it would be permissible to transmit only basic
info such as description of the suspect, abducted child(ren) and any related
vehicle, particularly after you have already made initial transmissions
containing full info. But in NO case must anything be added to the text.
In all cases, the transmission must include the advice that anyone sighting
the persons and/or vehicle is to call 911 immediately. The aim is to get
sufficient information transmitted that will allow anyone listening to
possibly spot the persons or vehicle.
How long or how often am I to transmit the Alert?
A: This will be a
matter of your own judgment and availability. If course, it must be transmitted immediately
upon receipt. If the ALERT seems to suggest that the wanted vehicle could be
in, is approaching, or has just left your repeater(s) coverage area, it
would be wise to transmit it at 10 or 15-minute intervals for up to an hour and
then perhaps every hour or half hour thereafter. Remember, you are dealing
with a moving vehicle. At very least, it might be transmitted every 30
minutes. This will be determined by updates to the Alert, as well as your
availability, updates which you will also transmit, as well as the
cancellation, again depending upon your availability.
4) Q: But what
if I can't stay on the air that long or if I'm not available to get the Alert?
A: This system, the
RARAN, is staffed by volunteers. As such, we do what we can with what we
have. If you are not available when an Alert comes in, there's nothing you
can do about it. If you have to leave before it's over, do so.
No one is expected to sit at his/her operating position waiting for an Alert. You are
encouraged to try coordinating with other RARAN stations who might be in the
same area. But if you aren't or can't be available, it is understood. We are
but one of the partners in distributing these Alerts. However, you should
always check your email immediately upon return to the station. If you should
happen to have been away from your computer and return to find that an Alert
was issued in your absence AND is still in effect, please transmit it!
One never knows what good that might do.
5) Q: How do I
transmit the AMBER Alert?
A: As previously
stated, stick to the exact wording of the Alert, without any
alterations. Speak slowly and clearly, using recognized phonetics where
applicable. Be prepared to give repeats if requested. When you were
"recruited" as a member of this system, you were asked to supply certain
information, including the location, call sign and frequencies of repeaters or
nets which you intend to use for these Alerts.
Click here to see the Island Repeater
Click here for
Southern Interior Repeater Group (pdf)
It is expected that you will
not deviate from that plan without coordination among other member stations
and notice to the coordinator of the BC RARAN. If there are any
changes, please advise the coordinator. Transmit what you have, as
soon as you have it.
Q: What about logging or reporting our AMBER Alert activities?
A: For the sake of
credibility, posterity and education, every station is to document all
activities pertaining to an AMBER Alert. (It's also a case of CYA.) Keep a
copy of all E-mails pertaining to any particular Alert, as well as a cut, paste
and save (or print out) of the actual AMBER Alert you used for
transmitting. That way there can be no question as to what was transmitted.
Keep a running log of every transmission of an Alert that you make, including
date, time, frequency, repeater call sign and net (if applicable), as well as
any other method in which you distributed the info. (Perhaps you forwarded it
by email or telephone to someone else. If so, document it and keep a copy.)
Please retain all of this information. There won't be many Alerts over a year
so this is no big chore. You will be asked for a brief annual report but the
form and format of that has yet to be determined. It won't be wordy.
Q: What if somebody says I'm infringing on the Radio Regulations by
making a "broadcast"?
Do not use the term "broadcast". Transmission of
an AMBER Alert is no different than the reading of bulletins or local
announcements on repeaters and nets about propagation or a gasoline station
with low prices, a practice which is very common. In fact, transmission of
AMBER Alerts is more important than
many announcements we all hear from time
to time. It is highly unlikely that the regulator would ever ban the use
of Amateur Radio frequencies for such an important and widely-recognized and
highly-respected safety program. As vital as an AMBER Alert is, you should
not be under the impression that it permits you to interrupt a net or QSO in
progress, although that might be argued. Instead, use the accepted method of
breaking in during a pause (your call sign) and asking to use the frequency
for an AMBER Alert involving a kidnapped child (or children). Any Radio
Amateur who doesn't like that deserves a slap...but resist the urge. It
has recently been suggested, by someone who is not a volunteer station
operator, that our stations should seek permission from the repeater owner to
transmit AMBER Alerts. That will be left to your own good judgment one
way or the other.
8) Q: I see
there is now an on-line registration form for RARAN volunteer stations.
Should I go there and re-enter all of my information? How about if I
A: Please DO NOT use that form if you have already registered and are on
the email list as a volunteer station. That only confuses matters and
makes more work. If might even result in your information not being
posted correctly or not at all because of being seen as a duplicate. If
you should need to change existing information, such as telephone number,
email, etc., or to enter new repeater details or the like, please do so by
direct mail to the coordinator, NOT using that form.
Many thanks for your participation in this important programme.
Doug Mercer VO1DTM (RAC CEC)
President Field Services
Radio Amateurs of Canada
"We"re ALL about Amateur Radio!" "Tous
ensemble pour la radioamateur!"
(Photos may be included in actual Alert.)
A M B E R A L E R T
Name: DOE, Jane
Missing From: 1234 Main St.
Eye Colour: Blue
Height: 120 cm
Weight: 40 kg
Last Seen Wearing: Blue Ski Jacket & Red Pants
Other Important Descriptors: Not known to wander off.
May be in trouble with law enforcement.
School Attending: ABC Elementary
Suspect: PERV, Joe
Age: 30-45 yrs
Vehicle: 1965 Pontiac GTO
Licence: 123 XYZ B.C.
Case #: ABC-12345
Metro Police Dept.
Phone: (555) 555-5555
If you have concerns about the validity of this transmission
please contact the
agency listed at the phone number above.
BC ARES Page