September 8, 2010Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
The View from Flagler County
Hurricane Earl: On Monday morning, August 30, I listened to the opening of the Hurricane Watch Net on 14.325 MHz, with Dan Weisenburger, KW4T, performing superbly as net control station, in response to the storm's brush with the Virgin Islands. The National Hurricane Center station WX4NHC was activated and monitored the net. Long time friend and Virgin Islands Section Manager John Ellis, NP2B, on the north side of St. Croix, reported a barometric pressure of 29.66 mb, and maximum sustained winds of 33 mph. His Internet connection, cell phone service, and commercial power were out. At mid-week, Ellis reported that they were fortunate: no major damage. The island community was turning its attention to new cells starting their march across the Atlantic off the coast of Africa.
As I write this on Friday morning, September 3, Hurricane Earl is off the coast of Cape Hatteras, and I'm listening for reports on the HWN. I also listened to the EchoLink "WX-Talk" Conference Room, an efficient operation, to say the least. The crew at WX4NHC also monitors CWOP, APRS and MADIS automated weather stations in the affected areas, as well as the EchoLink service. Surface reports using WX4NHC's Online Hurricane Report form are also monitored.
The VoIP Hurricane Net was also supporting WX4NHC with surface reports. Stations can connect to the net via the EchoLink conference node 7203.
More from ARRL HQ on Hurricane Earl here.
I also checked into the Florida Hurricane Net on the D-STAR platform Monday night at 2100 local time, which had a robust turnout of check-ins from across the southeastern portion of the country in the spirit of mutual support. The digital voice quality is superb! The net is run with a high degree of professionalism.
The purpose of the net is to provide training to ARES members in the three Florida ARRL Sections and hurricane emergency communications in Florida for served agencies. Any Amateur Radio emcomm operator or organization is welcome on the net, however. In addition to hurricanes, the net will be activated by any major emergency to support our served agencies and the Florida State Emergency Operations Center.
Note the check-in protocol: The net takes check-ins using the "Quick Key Format." The operator transmits his/her call sign by keying the radio or Dongle for one second only when the frequency is clear. Net Control will then acknowledge all check-ins seen. Quick and efficient!
And finally, no news to anybody is that this month marks the fifth anniversary of the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. For a look back at the Amateur Radio response as it was unfolding then, see the special edition of this newsletter released this month five years ago here.
In This Issue:
Learning through Practicing: GAREC-2010 Convenes Next Month
"Learning through practicing" is the theme of GAREC-2010, to be held October 11 and 12, 2010, in Curacao. GAREC is the global Amateur Radio emergency communications
This year's conference is an opportunity for emergency communicators to discuss recent events, cooperation with professional partners and technical solutions to problems. An actual emcomm exercise will also be conducted during the conference to explore how information sharing across borders can be improved.
The opening ceremony will feature a representative of the Curacao government; patron Dr. Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, Secretary-General of the ITU; Hans Blondeel Timmerman, PB2T, President of IARU Region 1; and a representative of the GAREC Organizing Committee. Activity reports will be heard from Region 1 representative Greg Mossop, G0DUB; Region 2 representative Michael Corey, W5MPC; and Jay Oka, JA1TRC, of Region 3.
Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, will present "Earthquakes and Amateur Radio: Haiti." The conferees will also hear from Professor Arnaldo Coro Antich, CO2KK, veteran Region 2 emcomm expert. A program on "ITU - IARU Cooperation" will be presented by Dr. Cosmas Zavazava, (ITU-D), chaired by GAREC-2010 coordinator Dr. Seppo Sisättö, OH1VR. A tabletop exercise will be conducted by Mossop.
A panel discussion on "Forwarding Received Emcomm Messages" will be conducted by Dr. Zavazava, Corey, and Joop Verdoes, PA1JOV, chaired by Timmerman. Technical solutions for emcomm problems will be presented in the form of examples from multiple organizations, by Dr. Sisatto.
A program "How to Organize an EmComm Exercise" will include examples from Finland, Netherlands, and South Africa, chaired by W5MPC. And finally, "The Future Role of the Amateur Radio Service in EmComms" will be an open discussion for all conference participants.
Click here for complete conference information.
Coincidentally, Curacao will be celebrating its independence on October 10. An ICOM IC-7600 will be operated at the conference site.
The GAREC mission: To get Amateur Radio operators to be better prepared for emergency communications and create practices for national and international levels. GAREC is a forum for exchanging information and experiences among all Amateur Radio operators and groups that are interested in emergency communications. Its Vision: To have regular world wide cooperation and understanding between governmental authorities and the Amateur Radio Service and community. -- Dr. Seppo Sisättö, OH1VR, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, GAREC-2010
Pakistani Amateurs Team Up to Provide Communications, Relief Support for Flood Victims
According to the Pakistan Amateur Radio Society (PARS) -- that country's IARU Member-Society -- radio amateurs in Pakistan have teamed up with the Islamabad Jeep Club and Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians to provide relief activities in those areas of Pakistan devastated by floods. The groups will supply food, tents and medical support to the northern flood affected areas of Nowshera, Charsadda and central Sargodha districts. "The cellular services are down and so is the landline," the PARS Web site reports. "Last week, the joint team carried out a survey in the north and the center of the country, and to its dismay, the situation isn't promising. Restoration of cellular services and landlines could take months." On August 21, hams reached the town of Dharkhanawala, looking to set up communications, but had to turn back because the equipment had not arrived; however, teams were able to distribute food in Dharkhanawala and Chauki Darab. Read more here. - ARRL Letter
Nomination Being Sought for the 2010 George Hart Distinguished Service Award
At its July 2009 meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors established the George Hart Distinguished Service Award to be given to an ARRL member whose service to the League's Field Organization is of the most exemplary nature. The Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of George Hart, W1NJM. Hart was a long-time Communications Manager at ARRL Headquarters and chief developer of the National Traffic System (NTS). Upon learning that the ARRL Board of Directors had established this award named after him, Hart called his namesake award "a great honor."
Selection criteria include:
Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award shall be accepted from anyone and shall be submitted to the Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager at ARRL Headquarters by November 1. Nominations should document as thoroughly as possible the nominee's lifetime activities and achievements within the ARRL Field Organization. It is expected that nominated candidates will have 15 or more years of distinguished service. The Programs and Services Committee will serve as the Review Committee, with the Board of Directors making the final determination at its Annual Meeting in January. Recipients will be given an engraved plaque and cover letter, and will be profiled in QST.
Nominations for the George Hart Distinguished Service Award, including any related supporting material and letters of recommendation, may be e-mailed to ARRL Headquarters to the attention of ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, or to ARRL Field and Public Service Team Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X. Nominations and supporting materials must be received no later than November 1, 2010 to be considered.
ARES 75th Anniversary Updates
ARES® is celebrating its 75th anniversary from September through December 2010. ARRL's ARES program has provided emergency communications for agencies such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, countless Emergency Operations Centers and others in the worst of times. In events from ice storms to Hurricane Katrina, when normal communications systems were down or overloaded, the Amateur Radio operators of the ARES programs responded to requests for communications aid.
Over the years the equipment has changed, but the decentralized communications nets that ARES can create to blanket regions without the need for other infrastructure remain critical in emergency planning. Recognition of this capability has led to renewed formal agreements with DHS, FEMA, NOAA and other federal agencies. With over 20,000 of the country's 680,000+ Amateur Radio operators involved in ARES--all of them truly "amateur" and providing their time, services, knowledge and equipment totally uncompensated--they are more than worthy of recognition for their 75 years of community services in the worst of times.
You can find more information about ARES at: http://www.arrl.org/public-service
Information about the anniversary is at: http://www.arrl.org/ares-anniversary
Click here for more information on celebration plans and resources. -- Allen Pitts, W1AGP, ARRL Public Relations Manager
Illinois Nuclear Power Plant Exercise: Lessons Learned
On July 28, 2010, at the request of the LaSalle County (Illinois) EMA Director, hams provided backup communications between the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the township EOCs within the emergency planning zone during the Biennial FEMA-Graded Exercise at the LaSalle County Nuclear Station. Served agencies included the LaSalle County EOC at Ottawa, Township EOCs at Marseilles and Seneca, and the Illinois Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross at Peru. Amateur groups providing the support included the Starved Rock Radio Club, LaSalle County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, and LaSalle County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.
The exercise is conducted every two years. Nuclear Accident Reporting System (NARS) messages were handled using 2 meter voice: the LaSalle County EOC conducted roll call, and transmitted the NARS messages.
An observer from the Department of Homeland Security complimented the hams for "impressive communication skills." The observer noted how we enforced accurate message handling. The mentoring of newer hams was also recognized by the DHS observer as a "Strength."
1. Continued practice of sending NARS messages via voice is needed.
2. Once communications is established, backup simplex and other repeater communications should be tested and verified for lowest output power needed for reliable communications.
3. The EOC needs to identify all stations calling and determine if they may be from another served agency.
4. Better antennas are needed for some locations.
5. Operators need to bring go-bags with radios with battery and power supply (as backup).
6. Power Pole connectors are needed at all sites for standardization and efficiency.
7. The EOC needs to issue each net station a tactical call. -- Joe Tokarz, KB9EZZ, EC/OES, La Salle County, Illinois
Personal Disaster Planning
In re the Ralph Phillips, KE5HDF, letter in the last issue, Phillips stated he has chosen to store less water because he has a swimming pool and stocked up on cheese cloth and pool shock instead.
Unless Ralph is on very high ground, this idea may be problematic. In the event of even a moderate flood his pool water could be contaminated with raw sewage, gasoline, oil and lord knows what else. And cheese cloth may be good for getting the lumps out of paint, but I would not exactly consider it a drinking water filter.
I am also uncomfortable with his intended use of pool shock. Where there are well-established formulas for safely using chlorine bleach to disinfect water, my Google search for a safe formula using pool shock was less than fruitful. And depending on the brand, various brands of pool shock also contain other chemicals that may do a human much more harm than good, even at low percentages per gallon.
I admire Ralph's thinking out of the box, but I strongly suggest he take the pool shock he intends to use and get a qualified medical opinion on its use for this purpose. And if it can be safely used, the correct high and low amounts per gallon to be used for the various levels of contamination faced.
I would also suggest that Ralph increase his water storage just in case he finds the pool shock mix may need to stand for longer than anticipated, or finds the water may also require boiling. And as the saying goes: "A watched pot never boils, especially when your family is thirsty." -- Jeff Sabatini, KI6BCX, Redlands, California
South Texas EmComm Competition
I read with interest in the last issue about the South Texas group planning for an emcomm field competition in the last issue. They may want to add the following test to the competition: "Send and receive 5 properly formatted ARRL NTS Radiograms using correct voice procedure and phonetics." All of the radios in the world are useless unless a message can get through. It's this last skill that I've found most lacking in most SET's and other drills. Not knowing this skill results in message throughput about one fifth the rate of an NTS net where ops use the skill daily. -- Gary Wilson, K2GW, ARRL Sotuhern New Jersey SEC, ASM
History of Amateur Radio EmComms
Starting with the issue of October 1925, QST was full of news and commentary about the Army-Amateur Radio System, about which the journal's editor wrote in the December 1925 issue, "It seems to us that this affiliation is about the most important thing that ever happened to amateur radio in this country." Or as the original story in the October 1925 QST expressed it (page 23), "If we can put this over it will be the biggest thing ARRL has ever done."
There's even "new news" from that era. At Dayton this year two members of that "[truly] original Amateur Radio emergency response organization" were recognized by posthumous induction into the CQ Hall of Fame. Ralph Hollis, 4FC, and Forrest Dana, 4AGR, transmitted the calls that brought Red Cross and Army aid to South Florida in the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928, which killed 2,000 persons. Their heroism, fully recounted in QST at the time, should be included in any commemoration of the beginnings of amateur emcomm. The story would make great reading for the E-Letter. -- Bill Sexton, N1IN, Region 1 (New England) Deputy Director of Army MARS, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
MS-150: Memphis, Tennessee
The Delta Amateur Radio Club of Memphis, Tennessee, is again supporting our area's MS-150 tour as we do every year. This year's event will be run on September 11-12. This year, my XYL and I will be operating net control from our remote audio truck, which does double duty as a mobile communications post. This is a regular audio control room in a 19 ft cargo box, acoustically tuned inside. We've built a cover for the mixing console, giving us a two tiered operating bench 7 ft wide, with an upper tier for radio equipment, the lower for writing implements, computer keyboards or laptops.
I have a mast assembly that mounts to the frame for the HVAC unit, which is positioned above the cab of the truck. With this mast made of heavy PVC, I can get a dual band antenna at a height of around 25 ft, in a one man operation. On this mast assembly is a pulley and rope assembly allowing me to raise HF wire antennas to position quickly as well. This means that within 20 minutes of arrival I can be operating on VHF/UHF. Within a half hour of arrival, we can have a couple of stations operating off of deep cycle batteries, completely with digital modes. See: www.gatasound.com - Dick Webb, NF5B, NTS Central Area Net Manager, Eads, Tennessee
Training Aids Available
The Hernando County, Florida, ARES group has released two presentations: The first is on writing messages for and sending messages via the National Traffic System (NTS), which is available in Power Point or PDF format from http://kc4mts.no-ip.org/Hernando/files.html (look under ARES and ARRL files). The presentation contains information on a radiogram, explaining what it is and how to fill out each section of the form. Included are examples for normal and "booked" traffic and a narrative has been used to show a typical session of sending messages by phone and Morse code. References for handouts are listed at the end of the slides.
The second presentation is on using Digipan software for communicating using PSK31 and it is available from the same Hernando County ARES Web site. This tutorial covers connection of the radio and computer, configuring the software, and getting on the air. Also included is a narrative of a typical conversation when operating in this digital mode. -- Alan McGrew, KC4MTS, EC, Hernando County, Florida
Thought this might be of interest: California to Deploy Nation's First Mass Mobile Alert System from Government Technology -- Thanks, Les Rayburn, N1LF, Alabama
Alabama State Be Ready Day
Alex Davies, W4AVD, Glenn Raines, KA4SZQ and I spent from 9 AM to 2 PM on September 1 presenting Amateur Radio to several hundred Birmingham area school children at Linn Park, Birmingham, Alabama. We were set up next to the Birmingham National Weather Service
tent. This provided a unique opportunity to present a live demonstration of how hams can serve their community and then send people directly to the NWS to inquire about training. It was a very successful day all around! -- Hub Harvey, N4HUB, Jefferson County, Alabama, Emergency Coordinator
2010 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test Guidelines and Links to Reporting Forms
SET planners can download copies of the 2010 SET reporting forms and the EC Annual Report form and read the Simulated Emergency Test (SET) guidelines on the ARRL Web Page: http://www.arrl.org/public-service-field-services-forms
Look for these specific titles on the above-mentioned Web page.
Form A: EC Simulated Emergency Test Report
Form B: NM Simulated Emergency Test Report
Form C: EC Annual Report
Simulated Emergency Test Guidelines: October 2-3
The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is a nationwide exercise in emergency communications, conducted by ARRL Section, District and local Emergency Coordinators, and by Net Managers. Both ARES ® and the National Traffic System (NTS) are involved. The SET weekend gives communicators the opportunity to focus on the emergency-communications capability within your community while interacting with NTS nets. The main SET weekend to focus on this year is October 2-3, 2010.
During September, the ARRL will be among dozens of organizations and agencies taking part in National Preparedness Month. "The Ready Campaign," produced by the Ad Council in partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is aimed at making citizen preparedness "a priority for every city, every neighborhood and every home" in the US. The ARRL encourages you to consider this year's Simulated Emergency Test and preparations for it as a demonstration of Amateur Radio's readiness and as an active participant in National Preparedness Month.
Purpose of SET
1. To find out the strengths and weaknesses of ARES and NTS, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and other groups in providing emergency communications.
2. To provide a public demonstration--to served agencies such as Red Cross, Civil Preparedness, and through the news media--of the value to the public that Amateur Radio provides, particularly in time of need.
3. To help radio amateurs gain experience in communications using standard procedures and a variety of modes under simulated-emergency conditions.
The ARRL Web Page is a resource available to you as you prepare for the upcoming test. Check the ARRL Field Organization Page on the ARRL Web Site, http://www.arrl.org/public-service-field-services-forms, for electronic versions of the SET reporting forms, traffic handling information, and several other items related to public service and emergency communications. Please e-mail your SET summaries to ARRL Headquarters via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you mail them to ARRL via the postal service, the address is: ARRL Headquarters, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111-1494.
One of the first steps on the way to a successful SET is to try to get as many people as possible involved and especially new hams. In a real emergency, we find amateurs with all sorts of varied interests coming out of the woodwork. Let's get them involved in SET so they will know more about how emergency communications should be handled. Promote SET on nets and repeaters, and sign up new, enthusiastic radio amateurs. Many of those offering to help will be inexperienced in public-service activities. It's up to you to explain what's going on to them, and provide them with useful roles. They may like it so much that they become a permanent fixture in your ARES or NTS group. For a review of last year's nationwide Simulated Emergency Test, read the article in July, 2010, QST, or see the SET announcement in September QST.
EmComm East, September 18: Plan to Attend Now!
The third annual EmComm East emergency communications conference is an ARRL-sanctioned Amateur Radio event where operators can attend training sessions on technical topics, learn from served agencies, obtain VE testing for license upgrades, and interact with other operators from all over the country. It will be held on September 18, 2010, at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, from 8 AM to 5 PM.
The featured speaker this year will be Steve Ewald, WV1X, supervisor of the ARRL Field Organization Team at ARRL Headquarters. Ewald is the lead staff liaison to ARRL Section Managers and ARRL Field Organization appointees. He edits the Public Service column in QST and helps support the ARRL efforts in emergency and public service communications.
Register on-line at the event Web site EmComm East. A $30 registration fee provides for continental breakfast and lunch.
Communications Academy Lite - Seattle, Washington, October 2: Focus on New Hams
A communications training program, the Communications Academy, will focus on the needs of newly licensed hams, as well as those new to CERT, SAR, and other disciplines involving the use of radios. The program will be an expanded version of the popular "Beginner's Track" offered at the Spring Communications Academy. It will provide information on how to select a radio, how to talk on the radio, operating on nets, and other topics of interest to new communicators. Registration is open now. The session will be held at the South Seattle Community College, Olympic Hall--Room 120, in Seattle, Washington. Click here for more information.
The Spring Communications Academy will be held April 16-17 at the South Seattle Community College. -- Marina Zuetell, N7LSL, ARES District M Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator, Western Washington Medical Services Communications
K1CE For a Final
In just this issue alone, we have reviewed two major climatic situations: The Pakistan floods, and Hurricane Earl. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the UN specialized agency for telecommunications, and conducts international radio regulation, including frequency allocations for the globe. I read with interest a 2008 official statement by its Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, HB9EHT, on the subject of climate change, which resonates even more today. The issue has serious implications for us as radio amateurs in the field of emergency communications and service to our local emergency managers and EOCs. Here are some excerpts from his statement:
Climate change is another profound challenge that is at work, transforming the face of the world. Whatever the underlying cause, at current rates of extinction, scientists predict that two-thirds of all bird, mammal, butterfly, and plant species will be extinct by the end of this century. Not only the species, but the very survival of the world we live in and the planet itself, is now in jeopardy. Climate change is a global challenge that the world simply cannot afford to lose -- not just for our sake, but for the sake of our children.
In the global effort to combat climate change, ITU is continuing to help developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the use of emergency telecommunications and alerting systems for disaster relief. ITU, in collaboration with its membership, is identifying the necessary radio-frequency spectrum for climate monitoring and disaster prediction, detection and relief, including a promising cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the field of remote-sensing applications.
You can read the full statement here.
See also the FEMA National Situation Update: Monday, July 19, 2010, reporting on "June, April-June, and Year-To-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record."
There is no value to be added by anything I can say, except it seems to me that it would be worth your time to discuss the obvious and well-documented implications with your local served agency representatives. Also, please evaluate your own resume of emergency communication training program certifications so that you can make the greatest possible personal contribution to what it is sure to be a more demanding emergency and disaster management environment in the very near future. If 9/11 kicked off the current ratcheting up of emergency management in this country, climate change and its implications are certain to keep it going. Here in tiny Flagler County, Florida, for example, we have a large emergency management commitment, with a staff and EOC that has just now consolidated and revamped its volunteer-support functions for more efficiency and effectiveness in a budget-strapping economy. See news of this effort here. Flagler County emergency management requires volunteers to hold certifications in IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800 courses from FEMA. See below.
Here are a few courses to consider:
The above courses are available free of charge from the FEMA Independent Study Web site, conducted by its Emergency Management Institute. These are just a few of the many courses that apply to Amateur Radio emergency communications. Take as many as you can!
Here are a few additional courses to take:
I'm going to close this issue with an ominous little note I received from the communications staff at the Florida State Emergency Operations Center this week: "Assume you all are watching the tropics with the storms coming off Africa. Africa is producing a storm or two every two days. We have not had a hit so far but it can be expected this year. We are also approaching the time that the storms generate in the Gulf and Caribbean, which means less time to prepare. Please encourage all operators to prepare with antennas, batteries, GPS, etc. There are two storms just off Africa that have bad scenarios for Florida, so be ready!"
See you next month! 73, Rick K1CE
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