January 19, 2011Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
The View from the Ozarks
Ozarks New Year's Eve Tornado Outbreak Involves SKYWARN, ARESÂ®
The past year ended on a tragic note as killer storms swept across southwestern Missouri. At least nine tornadoes, two of which produced fatalities and numerous severe thunderstorms pounded the Missouri Ozarks over 14 hours on December 30 into New Year's Eve. The SW Missouri Regional SKYWARN Net was activated by Net Coordinator Jim Sellars, NØUAM, on the 145.49 MHz NØNWS repeater at 10:30 PM on Thursday as the first severe storms were entering into the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast area in Stone County just south of Table Rock Lake.
First responders, SKYWARN mobile intercept spotters, other SKYWARN spotters and emergency managers throughout the region provided critical reports to the NWS via Amateur Radio. Taney County Emergency Coordinator Don Birk, NA9X, and the KØEI station operating from the Stone County 911 Center provided critical real time severe weather observations from their local nets via Amateur Radio to the NWS as three severe storms that produced four tornadoes lashed the Table Rock Lake area into the early hours of New Year's Eve. Cody Hudson, KF5HLZ, observed a tornado and associated power flashes as the storm heavily damaged the condominiums and boat docks at the Indian Point area of Table Rock Lake and reported them directly into the Regional Net.
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms continued north into Christian County where the county's ARES group was activated. Christian County Emergency Coordinator Pat Conway, WA6JGM, and his group passed information and spotter reports into the Regional Net. Conway along with Emergency Management/CERT liaison Rich Vogt, KB9YZE, assisted emergency management after a tornado caused EF-1 damage between Sparta and Fordland in the early morning hours.
Severe thunderstorms continued through the night across all of Missouri. As daybreak approached, additional super cell thunderstorms developed and affected large areas of southwest and central Missouri, and tornadoes were reported in Polk, Pulaski, Phelps and Dent Counties including an EF-3 tornado within the sprawling Fort Leonard Wood military complex. ARES groups and emergency managers provided real time and relayed reports on the situation into the Regional SKYWARN Net. Groups in Polk, Webster, Douglas, Laclede, Pulaski, Wright and Phelps Counties tracked and reported on these dangerous storms. Texas County Emergency Coordinator Richard Wood, KBØMPO, and his group relayed their observations of the Fort Leonard Wood storm from their vantage point on the south side of the Fort in real time to the NWS enhancing the warning process and helping increase warning lead times.
Ken Baremore, WØKRB, Missouri Section Emergency Coordinator, said of the response: "Events like these prove the effectiveness of a well run SKYWARN operation. The ARES and spotter groups handled the transfer of information, data and spotter reports seamlessly as the storms crossed the various county areas of responsibility and effectively passed the information from their local nets into the regional net and then to the Weather Service." "This can only be accomplished via a coordinated and active SKYWARN and ARES organization. The weekly local and regional ARES/SKYWARN training nets help reinforce this proper reporting and coordinating of procedures."
Steve Runnels, KD4OPZ, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Springfield, Missouri, added "The thing that struck me about this event was the amount of Amateur Radio support we received during the overnight and into the early morning hours. This proves that the Amateur Radio community is always ready. It also shows the strength of their commitment to the communities they live in and the National Weather Service's mission to protect life and property." SW Missouri SKYWARN can be heard when activated here. - Jim Sellars, N0UAM [An additional tornado report from ARRL HQ can be found here.]
In This Issue:
EmComm Bill Reintroduced in New Congress
The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act, which died at the end of the 111th Congress, has been reintroduced in the 112th Congress as HR 81. The sponsor is Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). The new bill -- which was introduced on January 5 -- has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Rep Jackson Lee first introduced the bill -- HR 2160 -- in the 111th Congress in April 2009. It gained an additional 41 co-sponsors but did not progress out of the committee of jurisdiction. A similar bill introduced in the Senate -- S 1755 -- made it all the way through that body in December 2009, but likewise was not taken up by the House. The objective of the bill -- which is supported by the ARRL -- is for the Secretary of Homeland Security to study the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio communications in emergencies and disaster relief and to identify and make recommendations regarding impediments to Amateur Radio communications, such as the effects of private land use regulations on residential antenna installations.
Hurricane, Emergency Management Conferences Provide Networking Opportunities
Hurricane Season may seem a long way off, but it's not. It's less than six months away. Here are hurricane and emergency management conferences to attend for purposes of training and networking:
2011 National Hurricane Conference - April 18-22, 2011, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia. The ARRL is a Participating Organization.
Governor's Hurricane Conference - May 15-20, 2011, Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center, Florida
2011 Texas Emergency Management Conference -- April 26-29, 2011, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas
Count on a robust Amateur Radio/ARES presence at each of these conferences. If you are associated with any of these meetings and have information on Amateur Radio activities to be planned, please inform your editor K1CE for inclusion in a future issue.
East Bay Adopts ARES Standards of Training
Over the past year, ARRL East Bay (California) Section Emergency Coordinator Herbert Cole, AI6AT, visited many ARES groups and presented a vision for the future of ARES within the Section. (East Bay is comprised of Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties). Working in cooperation with, and at the behest of Section Manager Jim Latham, AF6AQ, the East Bay Section leadership has been focused on establishing a section-wide ARES protocol that better leverages the talents, resources, training, and needs of the four-county area of responsibility.
As a result of the work that has occurred over the past year, Cole announced that the Section is adopting uniform training standards and credentialing requirements in cooperation with the ARRL San Francisco Section ARES program. The purpose of this action is to enhance their public service mission by pursuing common training and credentials that may be employed across section boundaries, and to establish the foundation for a robust and viable ARES Mutual Assistance Team (ARESMAT) capability should the need ever arise.
As provided by the ARRL, the only requirements for ARES membership continue to be a valid Amateur Radio license and a sincere desire to serve. There will now be two levels of East Bay Section ARES membership: Full and Associate.
Those East Bay Section ARES members who have met specific training requirements will be designated Full ARES Members. Full ARES members will be issued photo ID cards free of charge by the Section Manager upon completion of all required training. The training requirements are:
IS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS)
("IS" courses are offered on line at no charge in the FEMA Emergency Management Institute's Independent Study Program. "EC" courses are offered by the ARRL to ARRL members and non-members for a small fee. [Note that the former ARRL Emergency Communications Level 1 course is being revised and will be released as "Introduction to Emergency Communications" early this year. Check for news of availability and enrollment information on the ARRL Web site. This introductory course will provide the basic information needed to participate in ham radio public service and emcomm activities -- ed.]
Full ARES Members will also be expected to complete any training that is required by ARES served agencies. East Bay Section ARES members who have not yet met the specified training requirements will be designated Associate Members. Associate members will be issued the standard ARRL ARES ID (form FSD-224) by their ECs. ARES members must have Full ARES Member status to qualify for ARES leadership appointments and must complete the following requirements within one year of their appointments. Current leadership appointees must attain Full ARES Member status and complete the following requirements by December 31, 2011.
Emergency Coordinator (EC) and Official Emergency Station (OES) appointees:
Full ARES Member requirements plus:
Assistant District Emergency Coordinators (ADEC) appointees and above:
Full ARES Member and EC/OES requirements plus either of these two courses:
*Courses EC-002 and EC-003 have been replaced by EC-016 and are no longer offered, but those members who have completed them may use them to meet requirements.
Cole looks forward to working with members to build their ARES program into a model for others across the country to emulate. -- Herbert Cole, AI6AT, Section Emergency Coordinator, East Bay, California [Note: All ARRL online courses (except EC-016) are currently under construction. ARRL HQ is changing platforms and will be offering courses beginning this year. Visit ARRL's Web site for updates and available courses in the future. The currently available Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs course (EC-016) will continue to be offered online in its present format. Click here for more information].
N5FDL Opinion: The EC's Most Important Job
What is the most important job of an ARES Emergency Coordinator? Some will say it's responding to emergencies, or writing emergency plans. Others will say it's recruiting ARES members or installing radios at served agencies. There are dozens of answers and all are important. One, however, really stands out.
What's the EC's Job #1? I say it's giving your ARES volunteers something to do on an ongoing and frequent basis. Why? Because the quickest way to lose volunteers is to not use them. This is the "use-it-or-lose-it" fitness maxim applied to another kind of muscle--volunteer power.
If you aren't regularly exercising your response capability, I'd suggest that you really don't have one. Your ARES group may look good on paper, but how will it perform in the field?
"But, we don't have many emergencies around here," I can hear you saying. Not all of us live in tornado alley, where spring days often end with SKYWARN call-outs. Hurricanes are a fact-of-life in our Gulf and Atlantic coasts and hams are part of those preparedness efforts. Earthquakes threaten our Pacific Coast, especially California. And if it's not an earthquake, it's wildfire--and hams respond to both.
However, if you don't live in a place where the big hazard is well-known and frightening enough to focus your efforts on, it may be hard to have an ongoing mission to keep your volunteers energized. If that's the case, you need to find something for your people to do. It doesn't have to be directly emergency-related, though that would certainly help.
If you are searching for activities, first make sure Amateur Radio is included in scheduled emergency drills in your area. Second, if you have Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) where you live, link up with them. CERT is a natural partner for Amateur Radio and many groups do a great deal of training. As do Search-and-Rescue (SAR) teams.
The bike ride, marathon, Christmas parade, and other community events aren't emergency-related, yet provide useful training. Anything that gives you a reason to place people in the field and support them with a net is close enough to a real event to be useful. Maybe a local Scout troop could use Amateur Radio support for one of its events. My local CERT group is now providing canteen service and air bottle filling for the fire department. This is a wonderful assignment and it is being coordinated using Amateur Radio.
I haven't even mentioned ARRL events, such as Field Day and the Simulated Emergency Test, that are intended to offer emergency communications training. And if you are out of strictly ham ideas, how about training for the Incident Command System, CPR, and advanced first aid? You can also develop your own drills and exercises, just to test various elements of your ARES emergency plan.
The point I want to make is that active, engaged volunteers are what we need. If we aren't doing something big every quarter and little things in between, our volunteer resource is not as robust as it should be. A good Emergency Coordinator must work hard to create activities to keep ARES members trained and interested. And that's the kind of ARES members that will be there--skilled and ready--when we need them.-- David Coursey, N5FDL, Tracy, California [See also http://www.n5fdl.com - ed.]
EOC-to-EOC Exercise This Month in Washington State
Quarterly exercises are held in Washington state to promote Amateur Radio voice and data connectivity among the state's EOCs. All counties across the state are invited to participate. The Camp Murray EOC is involved in this month's state-wide exercise. (Camp Murray is located adjacent to Fort Lewis, Washington. It is home to the Washington National Guard, Washington State Guard and the Washington Air National Guard). For this month's exercise on January 29, state-wide participants will test the capability of using simplex frequencies to contact neighboring EOCs. In addition to using simplex, they will test performance and efficiencies with an EOC that is minimally staffed and using team members located at home or some other off-site location to augment EOC communications. For Camp Murray, the goal is preparation for a scenario in which support staff is unable to travel to the Camp Murray EOC due to damaged infrastructure. The exercise mission is to contact as many stations as possible and to contact as many remote Camp Murray team members as possible.
A VHF net will be conducted with the net control station using WebEOC software to log who checks into the net and when they leave, as checking out of a net properly is just as important as checking in.
The use of the Winlink messaging system will also be promoted. The Camp Murray RACES station W7EMD will be minimally staffed. Many members of the team will be operating from off-site locations and will be using the tactical call of "EMD" with their assigned number after that. A call for Camp Murray may be answered by one of these stations.
For this exercise, simplex coverage will be tested. All EOCs will switch from repeaters to simplex frequencies and try to contact other EOCs. The net control stations will log information into WebEOC and the information will be available for all WebEOC users. A formal net will also run on 75 meters for coordination purposes. -- John Rader, AA7ZV, Camp Murray Station Manager, Washington State
Limited Edition ARES 75th Anniversary Patches Available
The ARRL has agreed to permit the League's West Gulf Division officials to produce a limited number of ARES 75th Anniversary patches. The magic word is "limited." One production of the patches will be run. Once the patches are sold, no more will be permitted to be produced. The ARRL has not produced and does not intend to produce any 75th Anniversary patches. So the only Anniversary patches that will ever exist, will be the ones produced in this run.
The patches will be 3.5" in diameter, in full color and will have the blue 75th Anniversary banner at the bottom of the patch. Click here to order and pay through PayPal or download an order form and mail the order form with a check to the address on the order form. Delivery will be January/February. -- John Robert Stratton, N5AUS, ARRL West Gulf Division Vice Director
San Diego Searches for ARES Training Officer
The ARRL San Diego Section is looking for an ARES Training Officer. This position will be immediately responsible for coordinating the ARES training program. Emphasis will be on preparing to provide emergency communications for various agencies. Standard training topics will be covered: Personal Conduct, National Incident Management System (NIMS), Message Handling, Basic Radio Fundamentals, Operations, and Safety. Some specialty training will also be coordinated, such as First Aid/CPR, HIPAA, Hospital Orientation, Web EOC, Driver Safety, Wild Fire Safety Training and CERT Topics. Persons interested in this responsibility should contact Steve Early, AD6VI, or attend the monthly ARES meeting at Scripps Memorial Hospital. Click here for more info. -- Steve Early, AD6VI, San Diego Section Manager
Missouri SEC Changes
Dale Bagley, K0KY, Missouri Section Manager, has announced with regret that Dennis Gedeon, KBØNHW, has stepped down from the post of Section Emergency Coordinator. "Gedeon served as SEC for over two years and accomplished much during that time," said Bagley. He appointed more than 60 ARRL members to ARES leadership positions by encouraging an increase in participation by all ARES personnel, and by promoting the training of the membership. Bagley thanked Gedeon for his excellent service to the Amateur Radio emcomm community in Missouri as SEC.
Bagley has nominated Kenneth Baremore, WØKRB, of Battlefield, Missouri, to serve as the new SEC: "Baremore is an excellent candidate owing to his outstanding record as District "D" District Emergency Coordinator and EC for Green County. Bagley said he was impressed with Baremore for many years observing his ARES meetings/forums presented during numerous hamfests. Bagley said he believed that Baremore has "great ability and knowledge that will serve him and the Missouri Section ARES well as he takes the reins as SEC."
Michigan Group Honors One of its Own
The Muskegon County Emergency Communication Services, Inc. a local non-profit amateur radio group involved in emergency communications in Muskegon County, Michigan has awarded James Meyers, KC8PCJ, the "Al Ronning Outstanding Service Award." The award is given each December to a member of the group that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to the organization. This recognition is given in memory of Al Ronning, K8AER, who was an inspiration to other members of the group in his tireless effort in public service. Ronning was a member of the group that died in an automobile crash in December 2006. James Duram, K8COP, Emergency Coordinator for Muskegon County, awarded the plaque to Meyers at their December meeting.
Letters: Automating ICS-213 Forms
I have been working with John Blowski, KB2SCS, on a program to somewhat automate the ICS-213 form. Blowski has developed a 213 program that when run, gives users an on-screen 213 form to fill out. The user can then select to e-mail it. The program then takes the user through a SAVE and an E-MAIL ADDRESS block and opens the user's e-mail client, which can then be used for Winlink, allowing for pasting the form information in as text ready to send.
Another feature lets the user alternatively send it as an attachment. If the receiving end user is also running the program, it can be opened and then printed. I think many might find this a very helpful program with emcomm groups using Winlink e-mail functionality. Click here for more information. -- John Galvin, N5TIM, Allen, Texas
Training: What is the Incident Command System?
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized approach to incident management that:
The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.
The National Response Framework (NRF) is a guide to how the Nation conducts all-hazards response - from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe. This key document establishes a comprehensive, national, all-hazards approach to domestic incident response. The Framework identifies the key response principles, roles, and structures that organize national response. It describes how communities, States, the Federal Government, and private-sector and nongovernmental partners apply these principles for a coordinated, effective national response. -- FEMA
Emergency Communications Advisory Committee Roster
The ARRL ECAC (Emergency Communications Advisory Committee) was established at the January 2010 Board of Directors meeting to provide the Board with expert advice on emcomm policy issues facing the League. Each of the 15 ARRL Divisions has a representative on the ECAC. There is also a representative from Radio Amateurs Canada, a Board of Directors liaison, HQ staff liaison, and administrative liaison.
The following committee members are exceptionally qualified and recognized members of the emergency communications community. The committee reports to the Board's Programs and Services Committee. The activities of the committee are limited to studies of emergency communications issues that are national in scope. Here are your representatives by ARRL Division:
Chairman, Great Lakes
North Carolina AREA 11 DEC Appoints New Emergency Coordinator
North Carolina ARES Area 11 District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) Gary Lang, K4GHL, recently announced the appointment of Jared Gohlke, KJ4WWG, to the position of Rowan County EC.
Gohlke, a 10 year resident of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is a certified Law Enforcement Officer with over nine years on the job working for the Kannapolis Police Department. He is a certified traffic crash reconstructionist, field training officer and a radar operator. He is a member of both Rowan and Cabarrus Amateur Radio Clubs.
Rowan County ARES consists of many members of the Rowan County Amateur Radio Society who assist not only local government entities but other non-governmental agencies as well, including the EH Dole Red Cross chapter and the United Way of Rowan County.
Rowan County ARES operations are not limited to communications support for government agencies, but also historically assist with bicycle races, foot races, and other general public events where radio communications are needed. Rowan County ARES holds a weekly on air training net on the N4UH repeater. More information here. -- Gary H. Lang, K4GHL, North Carolina ARES Area 11 District Emergency Coordinator
Neighborhood Disaster Tabletop Exercises for CERTs, Neighborhood Watch Programs
A team of national, regional and state organizations invites Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Neighborhood Watch programs along with Neighborhood Associations to participate in one of the scheduled disaster tabletop exercises being facilitated via the Internet.
These exercises have been designed specifically for organizations that work to support the disaster caused needs of community and neighborhood residents during and following a disaster. By participating in one or several of these exercises you will be able to assess your organization's existing disaster response capabilities. There is NO CHARGE for participation in any of the exercises. Six distinctive exercise scenarios are available:
For additional information and registration click here. -- submitted by James Burrough, N5DTT, Bellaire, Texas [I have not vetted this program other than briefly assessing its Web site, but it looks like it is worth considering for exercise opportunities for ARES groups. Feedback would be welcomed. -- K1CE]
Possible Solution for ARES Call-Up Tree
Here is a possible solution for ARES leadership needing a phone tree service for alerts and warnings: The One Call Nowâ¢ phone message service. According to its Web site, it "delivers automated phone calls, within minutes, to any group, large or small. Schools, congregations, sports teams, businesses and municipalities throughout the country rely on us for routine reminders and emergency notifications. Our multi-dimensional and multi-lingual emergency notification service delivers your messages via voice, text to speech, SMS text, and e-mail."
Although I haven't personally tested the service, it might be worth considering for your group -- K1CE
How To Use a DSTAR Reflector
There is a good discussion of how to use a DSTAR Reflector System here, courtesy of the Northeast Florida DSTAR Repeater Network
K1CE For a Final
I quickly fulfilled one of my New Year's Resolutions by becoming a proud ARRL Life Member this month! I have no idea why it it took so long to do it, having been a member of the League since 1976, but I am glad I finally took the plunge. See you next month! 73, Rick K1CE