December 2016 Virginia Section Manager Report
Section Theme---“Moving forward with Amateur Radio for our Future”
2016 has come and is almost gone. Thanksgiving, Presidential Election, Amateur Radio Parity Act, Storms, Earthquakes, etc. have all affected us in one way or another these recent months. Christmas is around the corner and I hope you all put your Ham Radio wishes and wants lists into Santa.
Amateur Radio Parity Act Bill H.R. 1301
I need to address this subject first. I must say thank you to all the hams around the country and especially Virginia for stepping up to get this legislation in front of Congress. Unfortunately, for one single Senator from Florida, we were ready to get this bill to the floor for a vote before this year session end. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was the Grinch who stole Christmas for the US Amateur Radio Community. He was the single person who prevented the bill from moving forward for a vote by the full Senate. 2 years of intense effort on the part of ARRL and thousands of members as well as the CAI agreement has all been scuttled by one single Senator this time around. BUT, we will not be discouraged, we will bring this up again in 2017.
National Parks On the Air
NPOTA Program has only a couple of weeks to go and is expected to pass the 1,000,000 contact level. What an achievement. NPOTA has proven to be one of the most successful and popular on-air activities ARRL has ever created.
Virginia ARES groups and other EMCOMM groups have had various levels of success this past year. Unfortunately, we still have some hams that appear to have a difficult time leaving go of past problems and working to rebuild from our old ways and bad decisions. Coupled with these attitudes we still need to improve the cooperation between ARES groups, Private EMCOMM groups and local as well as State Agencies.
All agencies, groups and organizations have rules governing training, and a multitude of other requirements. Many of these rules are similar and yet many are different, however if we want be a member, play a game, or help in an emergency, we must abide by the rules. This is something we all learn as we grow and learn from our first teachers—our parents.
Technology is an interesting subject. On one hand many communications advances come each year and are adopted by some groups and not adopted by others. Only through increased cooperation by all participants can the advances be learned and subsequently utilized by everyone everywhere. Funding for these new technologies is also an important point that has to considered. Budgets being cut are always a problem.
Remember, technology of equipment is great, but even more important is training. Training is the keyword to operational success. Knowing the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the formats used as part of Incident Command System (ICS), are all part of training that needs to be accomplished. This training allows ARES members to be cross trained in AUXCOMM operations that allows them work with multiple agencies during times of emergencies. This is the real Interoperability necessary for multiple agency responses.
I am pleased that I have been requested to be part of the Virginia Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee representing Amateur Radio. This committee is to provide recommendations to the State Wide Interoperability Committee to determine priorities related to Public Safety interoperable communications in Virginia and surrounding states. In addition, I was selected to be a member of National Radio Interoperability Best Practices Committee which is part of the national Public Safety Telecommunications Council. These appointments show how much Amateur radio has moved up the ladder of recognition importance to our Federal and State Governments.
This was another fortunate year where the US and especially Virginia dodged any real significant widely disastrous major storms. There have been localized tornados and other storms in which ARES has activated its communications support functions. We still must remember that we to need to train for whatever the size of emergency occurs, whenever and wherever it happens.
We have had major forest fires in various parts of the country with devastating results. Hams of ARES and EMCOMM groups have played an important part in each and every one of these operations throughout these many operations this past year. The worldwide exposure of Ham Radio for communications in earthquakes has also once again displayed the value of ham radio providing the life saving and welfare emergency communications anywhere in the world.
SKYWARN plays a critical role in all types of storm emergencies. It is important to understand that our technical abilities to forecast weather, use of radar, satellites, etc. has improved our warning and reporting, however, nothing can beat an actual person giving a visual account from actual ground level observations. SKYWARN trained ham radio observers are extremely important to all types of ARES/EMCOMM storm emergencies. Recent national SKYWARN Day was a great success with operation of ham radio systems on the air from most NOAA weather offices around country, including our Virginia NOAA offices. This allowed SKYWARN operators in the weather offices, to make contact with hams all over the country and the world, as tests of equipment and were able to receive real time local weather observations.
Steve Crow KG4PEQ was named the SKYWARN Coordinator for the NOAA Wakefield office in 2008 and developed the Wakefield program covering numerous counties in central and southeast Virginia and North Carolina. Steve is going to be retiring his position at years end. Steve, whom I know personally, has been recognized nationally for developing one of the most comprehensive and successfully programs in the country. We all wish him well and thank him for the thousands of hours he spent developing training programs, drills, and working actual events like the Hurricane Isabel as well as other weather events including snow storms we have had over the years. His dedication of marrying the SKYWARN program to ARES programs during events has proved to be invaluable. I know he will still be involved in EMCOMM in some capacity in the future.
Presidential Debates and Election
Local ARES/RACES groups supported the Offices of Emergency Management during the presidential Debates.
General Section Information
I ask all hams to make use of our ARES Virginia Web site. It contains links to many important ham radio web sites as well full interactive ARES reporting, ARES applications and many other features for old as well as new hams. http://www.aresva.us.
ARES/RACES of Virgina on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/101756496822770/ is very active and I am pleased to report quite a number of new ARES applications. We are really excited that we are getting applications not only from new hams, but also from experienced older hams.
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Be sure and check the Ready Virginia web page for emergency preparedness. https://www.ready.gov/virginia This page includes what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area.
ROANOKE Division Facebook page can be found at:http://www.facebook.com/ARRL-Roanoke-Division-s://w1114578661885666/
The National traffic systems continue to utilize very dedicated hams. Traffic remains steady, but slow. We encourage all hams to learn about the ARRL traffic system as it is still in use during emergencies . Please support your local NTS operators.
Please Check the ARRL Letter for all major and national ARRL events and meetings.
VIRGINIA-FROSTFEST 2017 is February 4 at the Richmond International Raceway again. With over 2,800 attendees in 2016, this event has grown each and every year since its inception. Major equipment manufacturers as well as national ham radio distributors will also be present. Hundreds of flea-market tables are also available. www.frostfest.com
REMEMBER----Education is the key to your success, both in Ham Radio as well as in your life.
May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Dr. Joe Palsa
Virginia Section Manager