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Field Day


Field Day and Special Events: Why ICS?

The Incident Command System 

ICS or the ‘Incident Command System’ is a management structure for planning significant events, both large and small, be they emergencies or not.  It was developed in California to manage large fire situations, but was quickly adopted by other organizations as an effective method to scale up—or scale down a response to a significant event. It is now used universally by emergency services for planning and responding to significant events. Its modular, meaning it can be scaled up, or down, to suit an event.

Amateur Radio Field Day is a significant event, requiring a multitude of people and resources to proceed efficiently. Most clubs, SARC included have a committee structure for their Field Day planning. ICS was first introduced in 2011 and helped to identify duties and responsibilities. In 2012 we hope to build on that experience and further develop our planning and execution so that the process in documented for future years.

Surrey Emergency Program Amateur Radio (SEPAR) provides ICS level 100 training. While we cannot hope to cover that material in a short article, here is a brief overview of ICS positions as they relate to Field Day.

Incident Commander—The Field Day Chair

Safety Officer Has the absolute final say on safety issues in and around the site. Also ensures the site has adequate security.

Information Officer Public Relations or Public Information Officer (PIO)
Media releases before
Hospitality / Public relations at event
Media releases after the event

Planning Section [Section Chief & Committee]
Situation Unit: Ensures FD rules and class are followed in planning the event.
Resources Unit (recruiting): Help other committees schedule people before FD. May utilize Talk-In (Logistics/Services/Comms) to recruit club members in real-time on Field Day.
Demobilization Unit (takedown planning): Planning who/how to take it all down, and (via Logistics) get it all, and everyone, back to where they belong.
Documentation: Preserve guest book, contest logs with Bonus Unit. May help plan logging process, process/submit logs afterwards.

Logistics Section

Service Branch
Communications Unit (this is where we, as Hams, usually fall within someone else's ICS operation). Provides talk-in and any other non-contest comms operations, whether on radio/cell/Internet, whether on ham, commercial or PS licensed, or FRS radios. Might include scoring the NTS points with/instead of Operations/Bonus Unit. Monitor the repeater, 146.52, and club simplex frequency for queries (and a couple of extra points), provide communications liaison with the Safety Officer, relay information for any supply needs. Also, set up wireless or wired internet access.
Food Unit Can break down into Planning & Shopping, Drinks, Snacks, Cooking, Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner and Dessert. Can leverage the Support Branch to find & move the stuff once a list & budget are prepared.

Support Branch
Supply Unit (truck-type transport; leg-work on purchasing for food and supplies; transporting borrowed equipment for other sections' unfilled requirements, e.g. antenna tuner, and return!)
Facilities Unit (arrangements & interface with the City; renting outhouses and other equipment; arranging borrowing of equipment based other sections' unfilled requirements, e.g. generator.)
General Ground Support General hands/labour details (in other words, everyone!) Antenna and tent raising, lugging.
Power Group runs the generators, charges batteries, manages available power. Once you're operational, it's the primary component of Support. 

Finance & Admin Section (Typically the organization's Treasurer)

Operations Section 
Deputy Operations Chiefs who lead while the Chief sleeps and take on the role of Station Manager. License trustee; ensures the operators are working the right band with the right equipment and antenna; ensures FD rules and class are followed. Also ensures the operator schedule is followed so everyone has an opportunity to participate.
Operations is divided into functional Branches as needed; with further geographic or functional Divisions or Groups, as needed. Most of our functional Divisions can naturally be called "Stations".

Contesting Branch: Each Station counted in our 3-Alpha Field Day class would be one "Division" or "Group" for ICS purposes, both for planning and operations. 
HF SSB Division Station (Station leader; shift operators, shift loggers)
HF CW Division (ditto)
VHF+ Division(s) (ditto)
Digital Division(s) (ditto)
Satellite Division (ditto)

Bonus Branch: The bonus points may cross into other ICS Divisions, but may be included in Bonus Branch
Handling NTS traffic (for points)
Any other special points available (satellite or digital)
Making Natural Power contacts (for points)
Demo points

It may sound like a lot of positions, but the advantage is that everyone in the structure knows who their team leader is and what their responsibilities are. Obviously there are more positions than people so, in an organization an individual may have more than one responsibility. In the end you should have a structured approach to Field Day with a written manual that others can follow.

For an on-line ICS-100 course, visit the FEMA website:

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