Hennepin County Emergency Management owns and operates five (5) amateur radio repeaters, making up the Hennepin County Emergency Repeater System. This Operations Protocol dictates the operation of the downtown Minneapolis, which has been given the programming name of WC0HC-VM. In the Programming Name, “-VM” means that it is a VHF repeater located in Minneapolis.
Amateur radio stations utilizing WC0HC-VM are expected to abide to this Operations Protocol.
Because of its location and range, the WC0HC-VM repeater in downtown Minneapolis provides the entire Twin Cities Metropolitan area with analog voice communications, and hence an important tool in amateur emergency communications in the 7-county metro region. Because of the importance of this tool, an Operations Protocol is needed so that the use of the repeater is run in an efficient and fair manner.
While it is considered an “open” repeater, WC0HC-VM is a resource of Hennepin County Emergency Management for the purposes of providing auxiliary and redundant emergency communications for emergency response organizations, both government and non-government in nature. Message traffic is handled by an emergency response organization’s Auxiliary Emergency Communicators (AUXCOMM), who are specifically recognized and trained for this purpose.
This Operations Protocol can be found at www.wc0hc.org, or by contacting the repeater trustee:
Dan Anderson, KD0ASX
Hennepin County Emergency Management
This repeater is subject to the following protocols and priorities:
SYSTEM INFORMATION: The CTCSS tone is 127.3 on both the input and output. A backup repeater is located in Plymouth (WC0HC-VP) that uses an input CTCSS of 118.8 and output CTCSS of 127.3. The backup repeater is equipped with a SAME weather alert receiver that can automatically retransmit NWS-issued warnings for Hennepin County if enabled.
USE DURING EMERGENCIES: Very Low and Low Priority traffic must yield to all higher priority traffic. When AUXCOMM activity is taking place on the repeater, ALL stations not recognized by an emergency response organization should avoid the frequency.
All repeaters in the Hennepin County Emergency Repeater System will utilize the Net Control Procedure established in the Metro Auxiliary Emergency Net (MAEN). The MAEN Net will be established to handle emergency traffic on behalf of non-SKYWARN governmental and non-governmental organizations. Any emergency response organization may create a MAEN Net with the approval of the repeater trustee and Hennepin County Emergency Management.
METRO SKYWARN OPERATIONS: This repeater is designated as the PRIMARY METRO SKYWARN operations frequency.
OTHER EMERGENCY TRAFFIC: Non AUXCOMM stations may utilize the repeater for emergency communications in the event of life safety to themselves or others and when no other communications device is available for use. While life-safety traffic is priority on any radio system, it should not be assumed that this repeater is staffed to properly handle requests for emergency assistance. This repeater should be used as a means of last resort, when all other communications technologies have failed.
PUBLIC SERVICE EVENT USAGE: Non-governmental organizations may utilize any repeaters in the WC0HC Emergency Repeater System to conduct public service events of a non-profit nature, as allowed by the repeater trustee. Public service usage of any of the repeaters must be authorized by the repeater trustee beforehand. The repeater trustee will keep a calendar of repeater usage, and repeaters can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. All public service event traffic must yield to Emergency and Priority traffic.
GENERAL QSOs DISCOURAGED: When not in use for AUXCOMM or SKYWARN operations, this repeater is designated as a CALLING AND EMERGENCY frequency. Several governmental AUXCOMM stations, Emergency Operations Centers, ARES stations, hospitals, disaster relief and other organizations attempt to maintain a radio watch on this repeater in order to respond to emergencies. This radio watch cannot be done effectively if there is any amount of rag-chewing.
This repeater should be KEPT CLEAR of general amateur radio conversation traffic AT ALL TIMES in order for the channel to be open and available for calling/hailing/distress and emergency reporting traffic. Amateur stations are welcome to use the repeater for calling/hailing in order to make initial contact and make arrangements to move frequency but are asked to AVOID the repeater for any extended duration of QSOs. Amateur stations are also encouraged to utilize the repeater for short-duration testing of equipment, particularly if their station serves an emergency need.
RACES USE OF REPEATER: The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a radio service defined by the FCC that allows certified stations to operate on designated frequencies under a set of specific circumstances and procedures. Its primary purpose is to allow communication among RACES stations when the President enacts his/her War Emergency Powers under the provisions of section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and 47 U.S.C. 606 Part 214.
Hennepin County Emergency Management certifies RACES stations for Hennepin County government, while City Emergency Management departments have the same authority at the city level. This is similar through all the counties in the 7-county Metro region.
If such an event occurs, and certain frequencies are allocated for RACES use, Hennepin County Emergency Management will allow only RACES stations to operate on these frequencies in support of Metro-wide emergency operations.
RACES operating conditions will be enacted by Hennepin County Emergency Management in the event of (a) the President reallocating radio spectrum under the 47 U.S.C. 606 Part 214, or (b) in the event that the Hennepin County Board Chair makes a Declaration of Local Emergency under Minnesota Section 12.29 subdivision 2 and additional interoperable communications resources are required.
Once enacted, Hennepin RACES, as defined in its “RACES Certification” policy, will abide by the mandates set forth in 47 CFR 97.407(a). The repeater will then be a “closed access” repeater and only for the use of RACES stations in the Twin Cities Metro.