Some Guidelines for Sending Messages Using the ICS-213 Form

Carter Craigie, N3AO
CCAR Training Team

To get the form:

Go to www.w3eoc.org, click on "Training > Using ICS-213" in the main menu (this page). Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ICS-213 attachment link to download. Open with Adobe Reader (free software). Print out some forms.

Compose your message:

Use complete sentences, with subjects and verbs. Avoid excess verbiage, but
be complete. Then read your message to yourself as if YOU were the
RECIPIENT; would you know what to do if you RECEIVED this message?
Clarify your message if necessary. Write it CLEARLY in the MESSAGE
box.

Fill in the fields above the message box:

Sometimes you may not know the name of the recipient, but you should
know his/her position; in that case fill in ONLY the POSITION box. (Then
when you READ your message over the air, for example, say,
“TO…CCDES DIRECTOR, or “TO…RED CROSS SHELTER
MANAGER.”)
[***I will use “…” to indicate a place where you should PAUSE in your
reading.***]

In the FROM box:

Write your FIRST NAME and CALLSIGN, for example, “KEVIN N4SEN.”
Say, “FROM…KEVIN…N4SEN.” Of course, if an official wants you to
send the message, his or her name should go here, as in “MILLIE W.
DONNELL.” And his or her POSITION would go in the following box, as
in “SUPERVISOR, SOUTH COVENTRY.”

In the POSITION box:

Write, for example, “CCAR OPERATOR” or “SKYWARN SPOTTER
AYZ-715.” Say, “POSITION…CCAR OPERATOR.”
(When reading your message, use phonetics only when you think the
receiving operator may not readily recognize something. In this case, we all
know Kevin and his callsign, but his specific spotter number should be read
as “ALPHA YANKEE ZULU DASH SEVEN ONE FIVE.” Don’t spell out
SEVEN ONE FIVE, but just say them a bit slower than usual—for clarity.)
By the way, that spotter number is something I just made up!

In the SUBJECT box:

Write a 2-5 word subject, such as, “FLOODING OBSERVATIONS” or
“HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS” or “COMPUTER PROBLEMS
AT WEST VINCENT.” Say, “SUBJECT…FLOODING CONDITIONS.”
(Usually, do not write what ACTION you’d like to see; instead, write your
OBSERVATIONS, such as, “SUBJECT…CAR ACCIDENT WITH
INJURIES.” Let the authorities decide on what they want to do. On the other
hand, you might write “SUBJECT…HELP NEEDED.” Use your judgment
here.

In the DATE box:

Write the MONTH and the DATE, as in “DATE…DECEMBER 23.” (Read
it as “DECEMBER TWO THREE.” Omit the year.

In the TIME box:

Write the local time in 24-hour format, as in “TIME…1930 HOURS.”

In the SIGNATURE box:

Write the name of the person sending the message. This may be someone
other than you, and getting the spelling is IMPORTANT. Likewise, getting
the POSITION correct is important, too. For example, say
“SIGNATURE…CHRIS BRIGNOLA”…POSITION…“EAST PIKELAND
EMC.”

When we send these messages we will be borrowing from procedures used
by the traffic-handling community, as these have passed the tests of time and
experience. None of these guidelines should be considered as RULES, and
when you’re IN an emergency, use the best technique you can under the
circumstances. But as we PRACTICE, please try to use the following:

Q. What is the proper speed to send my message?
A. When you feel awkward, you are probably sending slow enough for
someone else to copy. We tend to read our messages too fast,
especially when we are in a rush or are nervous. Try these guidelines
to slow yourself down:

  1. Send in PHRASES, such as “EAST BRANDYWINE
    CREEK…HAS RISEN…SIX INCHES…SINCE 1400 HOURS.”
    Make each pause long enough for someone to spell out the words IN
    EACH GROUP.
  2. Use PHONETICS when spelling unusual words, as in “DR. JOSY
    MALEBRANCHE.”
  3. Resist the urge to say EACH…WORD…AT…A…TIME. It’s
    easier to send and write in meaningful phrases.
  4. Remember how it felt when you had to copy Carter N3AO when he
    went too fast! (But on the other hand learning how to copy faster is a
    good goal. How to do that? Write the first few letters of each word
    and fill in the left-out portions as you proof-read your message!)
  5. Listen on traffic nets to experienced traffic handlers, and copy the
    message yourself. You’ll pick up on the cadence and phrasing, the
    use of ‘letter groups,’ ‘number groups,’ and ‘mixed groups.’ The first
    two are self-explanatory (for example, AKL and 457), while the last
    one has both letters and numbers (as in SDR248). You’ll hear the
    pausing when a telephone number is sent: “610…745…5776.” And
    you’ll hear proper use of phonetics there too!
  6. Finally, some folks use this method: Using a pen or pencil,
    UNDERLINE the words AS YOU SEND THEM (or AFTER
    SENDING EACH PHRASE.) Just that simple action may help you
    slow down!

Q. Do I need to attach a special NUMBER to identify the message?
A. No. The DATE and TIME will be sufficient. No other numbering is
necessary when using this form.

Q. How do I SEPARATE reading the message from the address, and then
from the signature?
A. Say “MESSAGE FOLLOWS” and then read the message portion. At
the end of the message, say, END OF MESSAGE…SIGNATURE”
and then say the signature.

Q. How do I let the receiving operator know that I am FINISHED
sending my message?
A. Say, “MESSAGE COMPLETED…THIS IS A DRILL…THIS IS A
DRILL” and then “THIS IS (YOUR CALLSIGN)” as in, for example,
“MESSAGE COMPLETED…THIS IS A DRILL…THIS IS A
DRILL…THIS IS KB3CVC.”

Q. Do I say “PERIOD” or “X-RAY” at the end of a sentence?
A. Use whatever seems comfortable to you. I prefer “PERIOD,” as it is
‘plain speech’ and, therefore, completely understandable to everyone.
I change the inflection of my reading voice, lowering it a bit, just
when I say the word. If you choose to say “X-RAY,” there is no need
to lower your voice. Use your own judgment here.

Q. How do I repeat something I think needs repeating?
A. I use the words, “I SAY AGAIN…” and then say the passage over
again. Please try to avoid saying “I REPEAT,” as military personnel
have a special meaning for that phrase, as in “Fire again!”

Q. How do I ask for a ‘FILL’ ( a special message-handling word meaning
a portion of a message you missed while copying)?
A.1 Say “ALL AFTER…” the portion you know you have already written
correctly, for example, “ALL AFTER ‘POWER LINES DOWN.’ ”
(The fill would be as follows: Using the example above, you’d say,
“ALL AFTER POWER LINES DOWN”…“POWER LINES DOWN
ON LUCKY HILL ROAD.”

A.2 And/or You might say, “WORD(S) AFTER…AND BEFORE…” For
example, you might say, “WORD AFTER ‘CREEK ROAD’ AND
BEFORE ‘COVERED BRIDGE.’ “
A.2 I would say, “WORD AFTER ‘CREEK ROAD’ AND BEFORE
‘COVERED BRIDGE.’ “ “CREEK ROAD FLOODED ALL
AROUND ‘COVERED BRIDGE.’ “

Q. How do I let everybody know that this message is a Drill (Practice)
message?
A. BEFORE you start sending ANYTHING, say “THIS IS A
DRILL…THIS IS A DRILL…DRILL MESSAGE TO FOLLOW…”
and then start your message by saying “TO… and so forth.”
AFTERWARDS, you say “MESSAGE COMPLETED…THIS IS A
DRILL…THIS IS A DRILL” and then “THIS IS (YOUR
CALLSIGN.)”

Please use the guidelines to get you started sending messages using the
ICS213 message form. I am sure you will come up with more questions as
time goes by, and please email them to me at n3ao@comcast.net. Also,
please send my your suggestions for additions to this set of beginning
guidelines.

I hope I have helped you here.

This is Version 1.4. (30NOV2006).

73,
Carter N3AO
CCAR Training Team