OVER and OUT
During today's net, I'm going to present the first of a series of
training sessions designed to help make all of us, the operators of SATERN,
better emergency communicators. Before we begin that endeavor, however,
I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Brad Pioveson, I'm 48 years old
and I live in extreme Southern Illinois - about equidistant from the Ohio
and Mississippi Rivers. I've been a licensed and active ham since 1963.
During the past 36 years, I've participated in all types of emergency operations
both at the amateur and professional levels. I am a member and senior manager
of the Navy-Marine Corps MARS program. In that regard, I am the author
of much of the training material and all of the emergency communications
plans for Navy-Marine Corps MARS Region Four, which encompasses 14 Midwestern
states. I currently serve the MARS program as the Region Emergency Communications
Planning Officer and have done a tour of duty as the Region's Training
Officer. I am also an active member of the US National Communications System's
Shared Resources or SHARES program. My station is equipped to operate on
all of the HF bands at the kilowatt plus output level using voice, CW,
and most of the popular digital modes of communications. The station is,
additionally, equipped with several computers allowing me access to the
Internet for email communications and web access.
Now, as far as the training I'll be conducting is concerned, don't misunderstand - it's not that I or anyone else thinks we're not capable of doing the job - the Hurricane Mitch experience showed us that we can handle emergency communications. After the Hurricane Mitch nets were closed, however, comments and critiques were collected from a number of stations, including those folks who had acted as net control stations. Out of those collective remarks, it became apparent to SATERN's managers that some formal training would benefit our operators in meeting the unique challenges posed by disaster related amateur HF communications. I was asked to take on the job of SATERN National Training Officer and, the task of writing and presenting a basic training program for our system's operators. Now, I'm not going to tell you that I have all the answers when it comes to emergency communications. In fact, anyone who tells you that they do have all the answers is likely not playing with a full deck of cards. What I will tell you is that if you have questions that I cannot answer, I will do my level best to dig out the answers and get back to you with them. I can also tell you that the procedures I'll be teaching have been proven to be effective.
So, for the next few months, I'll be your SATERN net control station for the Wednesay morning 20 meter nets. During the time that we spend together on the air, I'll be presenting some bite-sized training sessions. Each session I present will last no longer than 10 or 15 minutes - you know the old adage about the 'mind only absorbing what the rear end can stand.' Once in a while, we'll conduct some interactive training sessions where I ask for participation from or engage one or more net members in on-the-air experience. Finally, we will occasionally run the net in full emergency exercise mode, which will entail an emergency exercise disaster scenario and emergency exercise messages. Just to keep things interesting, the emergency communications exercises may not be announced in advance.
During my years of emergency communications, or ECOM, experience, one rule has always stood out: Efficient communications requires circuit discipline. To have little or no discipline in a net circuit is to invite chaos, misunderstanding, inefficiency, self inflicted interference, and result in mistakes - none of which can be well afforded during any emergency situation. The written material which Major Pat, WW9E, asked me to prepare, and which you hopefully have, by now, received in the mail, was written with that basic tenet in mind. Those of you who have either military communications or MARS backgrounds will, undoubtedly, recognize the material I wrote as being the basic elements of the military model of communications procedures. I suspect that some of you winced when you read my training materials and noted that my program requires the use of such arcane terms as "over" or "out" and stipulates the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet as opposed to non standard and cutesy phonetics. The words "over" or "out" are only used by old fogies - mostly World War II veterans, right? Hardly. They are in use on a daily basis by present day military communicators and professional pilots, to name a few. Why? Because they work...they improve communications circuit efficiency - and, during an emergency situation, time is always something that cannot be wasted. During the course of your lifetime, you've probably discovered that doing things right the first time invariably takes less time than having to do a shabby, hurried job over again. That's what we're striving for, here...we are going learn to do things the right way the first time.
So, today, we're going to take a small bite out of the ECOM apple. We're going to learn how and when to use those arcane words, "over" or "out."
Let's, for the moment, imagine that, instead of talking on a radio, you're talking on a telephone. This telephone, however, only allows one person to talk at a time - it's simplex, in other words. In order to tell the person you're talking to that it's their turn to talk, you end your sentence with the proword "OVER." This word tells the other person that it's their turn to talk and that you're waiting for their response. When the other party concludes talking, the proword "OVER" will indicate to you that it's your turn to talk. Note that the proword "OVER" is used only one time. Honestly, I cringe sometimes when I tune the ham bands and hear "OVER" used twice, as in "...my name is Brad...over over." I'm not sure what the duplication is supposed to accomplish, but, trust me - one "OVER" is quite enough.
When our hypothetical telephone conversation comes to a close, the last person to talk will end the converation with the proword "OUT," to indicate to the other party that no response is expected, and no further communication is required or expected. The use of the proword "OUT" is the equivalent of hanging up our hypothetical telephone.
Let's look at a real world example: When I made my initial net callup, I asked for stations to check in. I ended my transmission with the proword 'OVER,' as I expected one or more stations to respond. When I recognized a station or group of stations, I ended my transmission with the proword 'OUT,' indicating that I expected no more communications at that time with those folks. When it's their turn to transmit, they will be called, asked for comments or business, and at the end of my transmission, I'll use the proword 'OVER,' indicating that it's their turn to talk. Again, at the end of the communication sequence, either party can use the proword 'OUT' indicating that the communication between those two stations has ended. We will 'hang up the fone,' with that station, so to speak. During the course of a typical net session, the net control station will usually communicate with one station at a time. While that communication is underway, each party should end his or her transmission with the proword "OVER." As long as the net control station uses "OVER," the station he or she is communicating with 'has the floor,' so to speak. When, however, the net control station ends the sequence with the word "OUT," that series of communications with that particular station or stations has ended and, in a directed net, any station desiring to communicate on the net frequency must request and obtain the permission of the net control station to establish further communications. We'll talk more about directed net procedures in future sessions.
So, to recap, if more communications are expected or anticipated from the station you're communicating with, use the proword, "OVER." When you're done talking with that station, use the proword "OUT."
Try using these prowords in your daily HF radio communications. You'll find that their use practically eliminates doubling and does, in fact, enhance your communications efficiency, as you'll find that the stations you're working don't have to wait and see if you were truly done transmitting when you quit speaking, or, if you were simply catching your breath. By using "OVER" or "OUT," there is no doubt when your transmissions have ended.
That's it for this morning's session. If anyone needs to contact
me, I can be reached by email at [email protected]
or by US Mail at my callbook address. The material I've presented this
morning will be electronically transmitted to Harry, W9IB, who has made
arrangements to post the information on the SATERN website. Additionally,
the information will be retransmitted during the Saturday 40 meter SATERN