Membership in the Knox ARES/RACES-CERT organization entails a number of training requirements that should be fulfilled over a reasonable period of time. There are two general groups of training programs. The first consists of on line courses that provide a grounding in the National Incident Management System, the basics of CERT, CONOPS and general practices for Emcomm in the Amateur Radio Service. The second group involves the demonstration of practical operating skills. Some of these are very specific to Knox County equipment while others represent more universal radio communications skills.

Group 1: NIMS, CERT and Emcomm Overview Courses

A. FEMA NIMS Courses

The following courses are available for free through FEMA. Anyone taking the courses is required to have a FEMA Student ID (SID). This is available from https://cdp.dhs.gov/femasid. The courses are on line and a certificate is granted upon successful completion. A copy must be submitted to the Knox County EMA.

  • IS-100.B: Introduction to Incident Command System (mandatory)
  • IS-200.B: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (recommended)
  • IS-700.A: National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction (mandatory)
  • IS-800.C: National Response Framework, an Introduction (recommended)

B. Maine CERT Courses

This series consists of eight on line courses. These are available for free through Justice Planning and Management Associates (JPMA). Registration is through the EMA where you will receive a User ID and password.

Disaster Preparedness; Fire Safety; Medical Operations 1; Medical Operations 2; Light Search & Rescue; Team Organization; Disaster Psychology; Terrorism and CERT

C. Maine CONOPS

CONOPS stands for Maine's "Concept of Operations for Emergency Communications." CONOPS provides guidance to public safety agencies (traditional first responders) and non-traditional responders for developing and employing on-scene interoperability through an effective Incident Communications program. CONOPS focuses on incident communications requirements and the role of interoperability.

This course is also on line and free. Registration with the EMA is required.

D. Maine Amateur Radio Service Emcomm Training

Maine ARES is now offering the Emcomm courses that were originated by and still maintained by Pat Lambert W0IPL. Adaptations of these courses were used by Maine ARES a number of years ago. Among the groups using these courses is the New York City Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Service (NYC-ARECS). They developed a set of on line tests and have offered those for use by Maine ARES.

As a bit of a twist for Maine ARES, the ARECS test files have been converted to flmsg custom templates. Using this format provides a couple of benefits. First, it provides practice in the use of flmsg as a stand along program with custom forms. Second, the test can be taken over a period of time which is not generally possible with on line tests. Everything is local so just save the flmsg .k2s file and open it again to view, add to or revise the test answers.

We've prototyped this in Knox County and as of this date (June 2018) the first test is available and hopefully bug free. There is a detailed help document Maine_ARS_Test_Instructions.pdf that may be used by those who are not familiar with flmsg. No radio is required and flmsg runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Course Name Course Materials Test (flmsg file)
EmComm Introduction Training Guide - Intro  
EmComm Basics (Levels I & II) Training Guide - I & II Test 1   Test 2
EmComm NCS (Level III) Training Guide - III Test 3

The passing score is 80%.

Group 2: Task Book Training Resources

The following 10 sections are keyed to the Knox County Radio Operator Communications Skills Task Book. While each section requires practical experience, the resources listed will be found to be beneficial. In addition, some activities are required for the maintenance of certification.


1. Emcomm Overview (All Operators): Understand the role of the radio operator in an EOC, shelter or other location. The training in Group 1 is augmented by practical experience. Additional resources are listed below.

  • ARRL ARES Field Resources Manual This is a free download but may also be purchased as a durable spiral-wound book from ARRL.
  • ARRL EC-001. This is a mentored course with fee ($50 for ARRL members). This course is currently being updated but will be available again by the fall of 2018.

2. EOC Communications Equipment Familiarization: Know the locations and uses of the equipment in the EOC Radio Room. Demonstrate a basic level of operational skills.


3. Communications Trailer Deployment: Safe set up of the Knox County Communications Trailer.

  • Check List (in preparation)

4. Standard Town Equipment Operation: Understand the set up procedures for each assigned town station.This includes the radio, computer, power supply and SignaLink interface.


5. Pen Bay Medical Center Station Operation: Set up and use of the PBMC radio station.


6. Portable Tower Set Up: Proper set up and use of the T50-HD (e.g. Kennebec) portable tower, observing all safety precautions.


7. SARTrack APRS: Demonstrate competence with SARTrack for general tracking and search & rescue (SAR).

  • http://www.sartrack.co.nz; SARTrack is a Windows program. For learning and practice purposes you may use an internet connection. For this you will need an APRS passcode. Contact your Team Leader for details.

8. Data Communications with NBEMS: Proper use of fldigi, flmsg and flamp per the Maine ARES/RACES Digital Communications Guide.

  • Structured training sessions will be provided on the Knox County VHF NBEMS Net. Sundays at 1900L on the W1EMA repeater. Registration required.

9. Data Communications with Winlink Express: Proper use of Winlink Express for sending/receiving messages via the Winlink radio-email system and for transferring messages via bulletin board systems. Primary modes include UHF packet andHF Winmor and Pactor. Supplemental mode is telnet.


10. Procedures for Passing Formal Traffic:Understand the proper composition and voicing of radiogramsand other formal messages using standardized formatting, phonetics and prowords as defined by the RRI Traffic Operations Manual.

  • RRI Traffic Operations Field Manual FM-001
  • Participate in formal traffic nets: Pre Chimes Traffic Net (Pen-Bay ARC repeaters, Saturday, 7:30 PM) or the Maine State Seagull Net (Mon-Sat, 5:00 PM, 3940 kHz LSB).