VHF Traffic Net

Marion County VHF Traffic Net

The Marion County Traffic Net (MCTN) is a directed VHF net that meets every Monday evening at 8:00PM local time as a training platform to handle formal National Traffic System (NTS) messages called “traffic” into, out of, and within Marion County.

The NTS is an organized network of amateur radio operators for the purpose of relaying messages. The NTS is most useful during emergencies when telecommunications infrastructure such as cell phone and land line telephone are inoperative. The MCTN is an officially sanctioned net within the Marion County EmComm community.

Handling traffic efficiently and accurately requires practice. Therefore, the NTS commonly practices with routine messages such as greetings, congratulations, and license renewal reminders in order to hone the skills of its operators. We welcome and invite anyone and everyone to be involved!

Why is NTS needed in an emergency?

We all take our glorious electronic communicators for granted today. Got a problem? Search the web. Driving to work and realize you forgot to mail an important bill? Call home and ask your family to drop it off at the post office for you. Need directions? Just ask your phone.

What if you suddenly lost the use of these wondrous conveniences? Who hasn’t experienced this at some point? Poor signal strength, cell towers under maintenance, power outages, and more can take your connectivity offline. The more we rely on these amazing conveniences daily, the more annoyed we are when they don’t work.

Every part of the USA has its own type of natural disaster. When a strong quake happens in California, everyone there instinctually reaches for their cell phone to call family and friends, but when they do they usually cannot get a connection. There are several possible reasons, including power outage at the cell tower, physical damage to land lines that connect the towers to the phone system, or simply cell system overload due to the massive demand put on the cell towers by so many people trying to make calls all at the same time.

However, there is yet another reason why your cellphone may not function during a natural disaster: the government may limit your access to insure that emergency workers and first responders can successfully use the system. You may have assumed that if you pay your bill you should be able to use the system, but in an emergency, Federal law says otherwise. If the government decides that other uses of the cellular system are more important than yours, you lose. There are several priority mechanisms that are available to local and regional emergency responders that could result in you not being able to access the cellular system or at least result in you having your use limited. Public safety can take over any working cell sites for their communications and block out the civilian users.

When the usual channels of communication break down, for whatever reason, the NTS can step in. We practice every day so we can efficiently pass emergency, health and welfare messages for each other and for the general public when called upon.

Local Traffic Handlers

The MCTN expects to frequently receive NTS messages originating from outside of Marion County. These messages require a local MCTN traffic handler to deliver the message. This local delivery is what we specialize in, and we would love for you to be a part of it. If originating or delivering a message sounds like fun, please join us by handling your first piece of traffic tonight!

Please visit the PARTICIPATION link for more information.

National Traffic System From Marion County

Sample Radiogram and NTS Quick Reference