Traffic nets handle formatted written messages between served agency locations or between other nets. In emergency operations, these nets may handle the majority of message originations and deliveries. Messages to or from outside the immediate area may be handled by a Section-level net, and depending on the distances involved and the degree to which the public telephone network and Internet are impaired, by Region Nets and Area Nets. Even if you expect to handle traffic primarily on VHF/UHF repeaters, understanding how these layers of nets operate will help you to optimize your use of the system. HF traffic nets can provide you additional practice and expose you to traffic handling that you might not encounter on VHF/UHF. During an emergency ARES and the National Traffic System (NTS) work together closely, so it’s a good idea to understand emergency traffic from the NTS operator’s perspective.
In general, the tactical net(s) handle the primary on-site emergency communications. Their mission may be handling communications for a served agency, weather monitoring and reporting, river gauging, or a variety of other tasks that do not require a formal written message. Often a tactical net may be set up as a “sub net” to handle specific types of traffic during high volume emergency situations. In such cases an additional NCS may be assigned for the sub net.
Health and Welfare (H&W) Nets
These nets usually handle messages between concerned friends, families and persons in the disaster area. Most H&W nets will be on HF bands, but local VHF or UHF “feeder” nets may be needed within a disaster area. Band conditions, operator license constraints and specific use needs will most always determine which mode may be the best choice for determining the mode of certain net operations.
When incoming operators arrive on scene this is the net that they would check into to receive assignments, or to be reassigned as needs change. A resource net may also be used to locate needed equipment, or operators with specific skills. Several different resource nets may be used in large-scale events. One might be used for collecting new volunteers over a wide area, and other local nets could be used for initial assignments. If required due to geography or high net activity, a third net could handle on-going logistical support needs.