AREC is the public service arm of Amateur Radio. Many hams get involved in providing communications for sporting events, Search and Rescue and Civil Defence at different levels.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications organisation (AREC) was formed by the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (Inc) (NZART) in 1932 after the Napier earthquake to train licensed amateur radio operators in providing reliable communications over the length of the country for any type of emergency. Full encouragement was given by the then New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department and they made available special station identifiers for emergency communications on the amateur radio allocated bands. It has become accepted among Amateur Radio operators that these unique “E” calls have priority over all other users of the widely-spaced amateur radio frequencies.
Since the formation of AREC in 1932, communications have been provided for thousands of emergency events ranging from searches to natural disasters to civil emergencies and for total or partial loss of telephone communications.
There are 80 AREC “Sections” throughout the country – each attached to a “Branch” of NZART and each with their own appointed Section Leader. Area Managers are appointed for the Northern, Central, Midlands and Southern areas by the National Council of NZART. as are the National Director of AREC and his Deputy and the National Secretary. All members of the organisation are unpaid volunteers.
The parent body of AREC is still the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (Inc). Not only do they provide encouragement, but they support AREC fully whenever called upon for assistance with finance, advice or any other administrative requirement.
The word ‘Amateur’ in AREC means only that they are unpaid. Their goal has always been to achieve the highest professional standards. Members are drawn from every walk of life and all professions.
Since its inception, AREC has developed from being an alternative means of communications using the most basic equipment – much of it home–made, to the point they are generally regarded by the various organisations using their services as ‘communications managers’. Modern equipment worth millions of dollars is now available throughout the country for emergency use. Much of this is owned privately, but most areas now maintain a pool of specialised radios and ancillaries to cater for any requirement. Certain items are not yet commercially available and have been developed, modified and constructed by the members.
The services of AREC are made available to many sporting events. These provide good training for message handling, but the main function is the safety and security of participants and spectators. Donations from this aspect of service are used to upgrade and maintain equipment in many areas. The only regular source of funding comes by way of a small grant from the Police Department each year.
Conditions vary greatly between areas throughout the country and communications need to be tailored specifically for the different requirements. VHF radio is now being used in varying degrees in most areas. Special light-weight cross-band repeaters have been developed to allow the use of small hand-held radios in the field. The geographical nature of some parts of the country required the continued use of HF in the field, so that HF to UHF repeaters are sometimes used to provide the best quality. Other areas have VHF repeaters installed at permanent locations, whilst others use Short Term, Special Purpose portable VHF repeaters as required. Much of this equipment is supplied and maintained by AREC from their limited resources.
The present management team of AREC have a strong commitment to upgrade standards through the development of more formal training programs. Seminars and special courses are taking place over the full length of the country. National and local procedure manuals and guides are being prepared. Closer and more direct contact with ‘clients’ is being encouraged at both national and local levels.
Search and Rescue has undergone major changes through the formation of ‘New Zealand Land SAR (Inc)’ to arrange and carry out searches involving civilian search teams. AREC is an associate member of this new organisation and is represented on the Communications sub-committee of NZ Land SAR (Inc).
Civil Defence is being replaced throughout the country by Emergency Management Groups in each district. In most areas, AREC has a commitment to assist with the re-organisation of communications for these groups and to advise and help train personnel in the use of the variety of communication methods now available. Although these new groups should have their own equipment and frequencies, any major emergency would require additional resources from amateur radio sources.
The number of searches and emergencies in New Zealand continue unabated.
The geographical nature of our country requires the highest standard of communications and the best technology available.
Our clients – that is, the Police, Search Advisers, Civil Defence Controllers, etc. prefer to have one point of call in the event of an emergency. It is unreasonable to expect one person to be available for 24 hours every day. It is proposed therefore, that a small numeric pager (mini-pager) be supplied to each area most likely to be required in an emergency. On being paged, the holder of the pager would be responsible to activate the appropriate personnel.
Improvements in technology are taking place very quickly. Every effort has been made to ensure that this country has the most modern and efficient communications available, we are now faced with the challenge of satellite technology and GPS (Global Positioning System).
AREC is actively involved in all new technology in order that the safety of the general public of New Zealand and also the many hundreds of volunteers who give so freely of their own time are not disadvantaged by lack of access to the very best communications that might be available.
In the past, amateur radio operators have been able to use and adapt their own private equipment for emergency purposes, but changes in technology, frequency allocations and band specifications dictate more specialised equipment. It is expected that amateur owned and modified equipment will be used for many years to come as communications backup, but new developments in technology will require additional resources and funding.
It seems most likely therefore, that in order to continue providing an efficient and free service to emergency organisations, AREC may need to obtain sponsorship from a commercial enterprise (or enterprises) to obtain their basic requirements.
A modular training system has been developed and training seminars are taking place throughout the whole country. NZART Branches and AREC Sections are keen to welcome and train new members.
AREC is involved in providing communications support to the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Land Search and Rescue organisation. In most areas we are involved in providing the communications equipment and operators at the search headquarters, and providing support for the setting up of equipment and training for the search teams who communicate back to the search headquarters.
As well as communicating between the search teams and the search headquarters we may also be required to provide communications back to a town base if the search is in a very remote area. Communications to air support is also sometimes required.
In most parts of the country High Frequency communications is required, but the use of VHF handheld equipment in conjunction with portable repeater equipment is becoming more common.
AREC provides operators and specialised equipment on a volunteer non-profit basis, some financial assistance is provided from the Police, but most of our funding is through our own fund raising activities.
The new 406 MHz digital distress beacon has a quicker response than the older 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz beacons. Click on the logo above to find out more details.
In most AREC search operations outside stations are quite often called upon to assist with relay work and these stations find difficulty in following AREC operating procedure. The following is the basic procedure for Telephony. CW procedure is covered in the AREC Manual.
Note 1: The use of the signing procedures “over” and “out” . When you sign “out” it is very desirable to check the channel before you call your next station. Signing out means you have finished your contact-final finals should be avoided.
Note 2: You will see callsigns have been omitted except for calling and signing. Callsigns should, however, be used
Note 3: Stem callsigns (eg ZL2EL) are personal issues to Section Leaders and MUST only be used by that Section Leader.
The use of correct operating procedures, whilst it may appear irksome and over-efficient to some, does save considerable time if every operator is aware of what to expect. We should aim at efficiency: efficiency saves time, and seconds are very valuable when a channel is busy. No one objects to the odd wisecrack or personal remark; these all help to relieve the tension, but these remarks must be kept to times when the channels are not busy. If a channel is busy, be brief and clear messages quickly and efficiently. Should an operator have an urgent message to clear, he should break in on the channel and say so-but he should use his discretion with the degree of urgency of his message-bearing in mind that out-station traffic must, for obvious reasons, have priority in the use of the channel.
Note: The procedure phrase “Break” is never to be used as a directive to another station to transmit. The correct signal for this purpose is the word “Over”.
Some suggestions for ham radio operators:
A variety of clothing items are available with the AREC Patch embroidered on them. These can be ordered from the AREC National Director
Wide Brimmed Hat
$20.00 including p&p
$17.00 including p&p
Alternatively a cloth patch is available from Christchurch Section, so that you can "roll your own"
$6.00 ea + $1 p&p
PO Box 1733
AREC is a subset of NZART, at the top of the management of the AREC group is the National Director of AREC. There is also a Deputy National Director that assists the Director, and fills in in his absence.
The National Director, and his deputy, are responsible for:
Next in the structure are the four Area Managers, assigned to each of the old Post Office districts, Northern, Central, Midland, and Southern, the same as is used for NZART Council elections.
The responsibilities of an Area Manager are as follows:
The National Director is appointed on an annual basis by NZART council. The Deputy Director, and Area Managers are also appointed by council on the recommendation of the National Director.
Section Leaders liaise with emergency services such as Police, St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Civil Defence and Search and Rescue at the local level. Co-ordination at the regional level is done by the area manager, and at a national level coordination with similar organizations and Government Agencies is done by the National Director who is appointed by the NZART Council.
The members of AREC come from Branches of NZART, each Branch may form an AREC Section. The Branches will appoint a Section Leader, and a deputy, or deputies, as required.
A monthly net of all AREC Section Leaders is held on the third Monday of each month at 20:20 hours. The Net is conducted by the National Director AREC, ZL6E, on 3900 kHz Upper Sideband.
The Phonetic Code should be used with considerable discretion. Its primary purpose is to obviate confusion between letters and figures which have similar sounds, e.g.: BCDEGPTV, AKJ, MN, QU, FS, TWO, THREE, FIVE, NINE.
The possibility of confusion increases greatly under adverse operating conditions such as adjacent channel interference, high level of acoustic and electrical background noise, poor audio quality (including inferior articulation), fading, etc. Under these conditions more frequent use of the phonetic code may be necessary. However, when there is a complete absence of interference of any kind and signals are perfectly readable, phonetics can be eliminated except for difficult place names, proper names, and unusual words. Regardless of the quality of the circuit phonetics should always be used for call signs during the establishment of initial contact. It is important to memorize the code thoroughly and to avoid using substitute words.
Some words are likely to be misunderstood when passed over radio telephone circuits, due to phonetic similarity. A number of phonetic alphabets have been introduced to overcome this. The following being the most generally accepted at the present time.
|A||ALFA||AL fah||O||OSCAR||OSS cah|
|B||BRAVO||BRAH voh||P||PAPA||pah PAH|
|C||CHARLIE||CHAR lee||Q||QUEBEC||Kwee BECK or|
|D||DELTA||DELL tah||Key BECK|
|E||ECHO||ECK oh||R||ROMEO||ROW me oh|
|F||FOXTROT||FOKS trot||S||SIERRA||See AIR rah|
|H||HOTEL||hoh TELL||U||UNIFORM||YOU nee form or|
|I||INDIA||IN dee ah||OO nee form|
|J||JULIET||JEW lee ETT||V||VICTOR||VIK tor|
|K||KILO||KEY loh||W||WHISKEY||WISS key|
|L||LIMA||LEE mah||X||X-RAY||ECKS ray|
|N||NOVEMBER||no VEM her||Z||ZULU||ZOO loo|
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