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
The RCMP has been given the
address for this reflector and will use it to advise stations of an AMBER Alert.
This 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 two
coordinators, including one in SK Section. Both of those persons 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
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 and you will be advised to
go to the RCMP website.
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.
What am I supposed to transmit/distribute?
by identifying yourself by call sign.
is suggested that you then state:
IS A SASKATCHEWAN 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.
How long or how often am I to transmit the Alert?
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
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.
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. (The Amateur Radio Pager could be used to activate a
"Local Alert" to give a "heads up" to pager owners on any
given frequency. The ARPs are available at the RAC On-Line Store at www.rac.ca
if you're interested. VE3BDB would like to hear from anyone using the ARP for
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: 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 that 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.
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.
Doug Mercer VO1DTM (RAC
Vice President Field
Radio Amateurs of Canada
about Amateur Radio!" "Tous ensemble pour la radioamateur!"