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ATTENTION ALL BRITISH COLUMBIA RARAN AMBER ALERT STATIONS

 

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

Updated 2009-11-03

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 AMBER Alerts.

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 (see the 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 receive.

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?
 
     A:  The RCMP has 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 broadcast 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.
 
 
2)  Q:  What am I supposed to transmit/distribute?
 
     A: Start by identifying yourself by call sign.   It is suggested that you then state: 

"URGENT!  THIS IS A BRITISH COLUMBIA  AMBER ALERT.  URGENT!  ALL STATIONS PLEASE COPY". 

There is 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.

 
 
3)   Q: 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 Trunking Diagram 

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.  

 
 
6)  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.
 
7)  Q:  What if somebody says I'm infringing on the Radio Regulations by making a "broadcast"?
 
     A:  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 change repeaters?

       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.

73,

Doug Mercer VO1DTM (RAC CEC)

Vice President Field Services

Radio Amateurs of Canada

"We"re ALL about Amateur Radio!"  "Tous ensemble pour la radioamateur!"

 

SAMPLE

DOCUMENT

FOR

TRAINING

PURPOSE

ONLY  (Photos may be included in actual Alert.)

A M B E R A L E R T

DOE, Jane

Name: DOE, Jane

Gender: Female

Age: 11

Missing From: 1234 Main St.

Hair: Blonde

Eye Colour: Blue

Race: Caucasian

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

Grade: 6

Suspect: PERV, Joe

Gender: Male

Age: 30-45 yrs

____________________________________________

Vehicle: 1965 Pontiac GTO

Licence: 123 XYZ B.C.

____________________________________________

FILE INFO:

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