Reporting Our Hours
by Paul Smith, K5PRS
Oct 2, 2022
You know the old saying, “The job isn’t finished until the paperwork is done.”
Did you know that we are STRONGLY requested not only to participate regularly in nets, exercises, public service events, trainings, etc. but to maintain logs, to fill out forms, to provide feedback and to report hours spent on approved activities? Like any other good organization, ARRL and ARES have paperwork. Nope, you can’t be forced to do any paperwork at all but if you want to be part of the team, to be considered for an assignment in the HCOEM radio room in the Transtar building or deployed to the action rather than on weather watch at an intersection out in the country or waiting for an assignment far down a list of more qualified volunteers, then you’ll want to do the paperwork. Be a team player, it isn’t hard to do.
“But why?”, you ask. Well, because our Sugar Daddy requires it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) uses the information provided to them by ARRL to justify our band assignments (2 meter, 40 meter, 160 meter, etc.). Some of these band assignments, mainly the HF bands, are based on ever-changing atmospheric conditions – some work better during the day and some are better at night, some work better during solar minimums and some during solar maximums, etc. Having all those bands provides more effective communication capabilities for emergency situations from anyplace on the planet so the need justifies the band assignments. Others like the 70 cm and 2 meter bands are highly effective in short distance work using relatively cheap gear, portable, pop-up antennas and portable, cross-band and stationary, long distance, internet connected repeaters. While you might think that is adequate justification, other band hungry entities work to excise slivers of our bands where they can. Yes, we are backup to the newer, high-tech comm systems but all of them are prone to failure and when all else fails, HAM radio works…and Sugar Daddy knows it. That’s why we mostly win those match-ups but, like anything else, the name of the game is “use it or lose it”. Using it means practice which is another obligation. If we don’t practice our EMCOM skills, SD will know due to a dearth of documentation that we won’t be able to get the job done when called and might take some of our toys away from us.
Beyond justifying our existence, the other reason why we prepare reports like logs and After Action Reports and formal messages and Weather reports and Supplies requests when we participate in ARES activities is simple practice (makes perfect). When bad things happen and we are called upon to support an Incident Command System (ICS) operation, we need to have the knowledge and the experience of preparing the necessary reports. It’s just part of the job.
Reporting monthly ARES hours is not complicated. We go work an event or check into our weekly ARES nets. We write down the date, the event and the number of hours we worked rounded up to the next hour (i.e. I spend 22 minutes on a weekly ARES net and report one hour.) I keep a text document on my computer desktop (see below; note the EC and DEC callsigns), you could do it on a pad of paper, and then I copy and paste it into a Winlink Express, ICS-213 general message and pop it off to my EC and DEC when I send my digital check-ins for the last monthly ARES net. If there is another event before the end of the month, I wait. I include that information in my email and send it off when I send my After Action Report for the event to the Event Comms Coordinator…but that’s another training.
C5XXX, K5YYY (EC & DEC calls)
DATE HOURS EVENT
2 1 NW Unit ARES net
9 1 NW Unit ARES net
16 1 NW Unit ARES net
23 1 NW Unit ARES net
30 1 NW Unit ARES net
DATE HOURS EVENT
8 5 10 for Texas
OK, then what happens? Well, the ECs compile the information from all members into a similar report that is sent to our DEC. The DEC compiles his report from individual and EC reports into a similar message and sends it up to the SEC and so on up the chain. Note my DISTRICT event hours on the spreadsheet and the fact that I copied my message to him/her as well as my EC. Everybody does a little piece of the job and a HUGE job gets accomplished.
That concludes tonight’s training. Are there any questions, comments or suggested additions to this material?
Thanks, this is (callsign) clear to net control.