ARES Tactical Call Sign Use


Last revision: rev. (-) Saturday October 2, 2004

Emergency communications use tactical call signs exclusively to call other stations. You don’t contact another station on an emergency net by using their amateur call sign, because if you have a reason to call them on the net, they have either a DESIGNATOR (if a mobile station) or a LOCATION (if a fixed station) and a FUNCTION!

Maintaining Logs and Status Boards: Field Team Leaders use ICS Form 214 to track personnel assignments, locations and tactical call signs. Individual operators use ICS Form 214 to identify themselves on the station log. Each duty rotation, such as the operator and logger swapping duties within an operational period, as well as take over by a relief team at the end of an operational period, must also is recorded.

Fixed station tactical calls are indicative of a GEOGRAPHIC NAME and FUNCTION. The Incident Command Post for a search operation in the Tracey Lake area is “Tracey Lake Base.” A fixed shelter comms unit is “Astatula Elementary”.

 Mobile station tactical calls are easily distinguished from fixed stations by their FUNCTION, followed by use of a unique DESIGNATOR (alpha or numeric) such as “Relay South. “

 The tactical call sign “COMMAND” is reserved for the senior public safety official in charge of the incident, i.e. the Incident Commander (IC). The only time an ARES/RACES operator uses “Command” in their tactical call is when speaking for, by the authority of, and under the direct, real-time supervision of the IC, in immediate hearing range and physical proximity.

 The tactical call signs “STRIKE TEAM (designator)” are reserved for first responder units at the scene of the incident or unless by direct command of the Communications Section Leader of the Incident.

 Other uses: If operating a served agency radio which is on a non-amateur frequency, you’ll also end transmissions with a tactical call sign.

 Whenever using an amateur frequency, append your full FCC call sign to the end of your last transmission (or every ten minutes if Net Control Station) and let the other station end with his/hers. 

Here are some examples:

To contact another station always state the called station first, followed by the prowords “this is”, then your station name.


Calling a station:

 “Relay North, this is EOC”

“Tavares Command, this is Astatula”

 The correct response is to identify with YOUR call sign, followed by the prowords “go ahead”:

“Relay North, go ahead”

“Tavares Command, go ahead”


To end a contact, use the term “out” – never “clear”.

 Here’s how it sounds:

“Relay Central out”

“Tavares Command out”

“EOC out, N4FLA” (if operating on amateur frequencies.)


What if you need to call a specific person at a location? Easy:

 “EOC, this is Round Lake Elementary with contact for Deputy Chief Jones.”


But what if you have a written message to deliver?

 Even easier:

 “EOC, this is Leesburg Elementary with traffic”

(Contrary to what some teach, you don’t identify the recipient of a written message in the call – it will be in the message itself, and there’s no reason to duplicate the information!)


Remember: the only time an amateur call sign is used is when using the amateur frequencies, and then only at the termination of a conversation (emergency conversations rarely – if ever – proceed past the FCC’s 10-minute limit for station identification. If for some reason one does, one must of course ID as required.)




 Last Update:  09/14/2018    © Copyright Lake Amateur Radio Association. All Rights Reserved