ARES E-Letter for February 15, 2006
The ARES E-Letter February 15, 2006 ================= Rick Palm, K1CE, Editor =================================== ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: <firstname.lastname@example.org> =================================== + The View from Flagler County Orlando, Florida, February 11, 2006 - In the past, the Orlando Hamcation was a national-scale event; not quite Dayton, but big. It still is, judging by Saturday's crowd. The ARES Forum was "Standing Room Only." A notable guest was John Fleming, WD4FFX, of the Florida Division of Emergency Management staff. Without his support, it is likely there would be little or no Amateur Radio involvement with the state's EOC and its operations. It was Fleming, along with Northern Florida Section Manager Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, and former SEC George Thurston, W4MLE (SK), that set the stage for the modern relationship with the state. Before Hurricane Andrew in 1992, relations could be summed up by the state's "Don't call us, we'll call you" policy. But after Andrew, the Governor and FEMA patently needed new planning. Thurston called Hubbard about a meeting to be held at Tallahassee. FEMA reps, the Governor's staff, and several amateurs attended, including Thurston, Hubbard, and John Hills, KC4N, current State Government Liaison. The Governor replaced the staff at the state EOC with professionals from South Carolina, veterans who had managed the Hurricane Hugo disaster there in 1989. Hubbard gave the new staffers a copy of the Northern Florida ARES Plan. They asked if ARES could provide the communication service depicted in the plan. They were assured ARES could, and the next meeting with ARES and the SEOC reflected a new relationship between the two entities, one that has worked exceptionally well since the mid-1990's. Fleming has been the point man. Fleming lauded amateurs involved in last year's incredible hurricane season, passed out State Certificates of Recognition, a special achievement award for Hubbard, and emphasized the importance of the role of Amateur Radio and ARES at the state EOC. He noted the state's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program had resulted in the large Brevard County Amateur Radio Emergency Service van parked on display outside the building. Fleming emphasized training and preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, and informed the group of two conferences: the Governor's Hurricane Conference in Ft. Lauderdale in May, and the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando in April. Amateur Radio sessions will be held at each event. DEC KO4TT--Steve Richbourg's, professional presentation of the Northern Florida ARES Plan was well received. Hubbard discussed the state's "tracker" system for matching emergency communication needs with assets, and emphasized that his ARES organization embraces all modes as tools for communication, including "two coffee cans and string, if necessary." The Northern Florida SEC Joe Bushel, W2DWR, emotionally expressed his appreciation for hurricane efforts. I said that the excellent response of the field organization was matched by ARRL HQ staff members who took unprecedented steps to support its field's efforts. Alabama Section Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, spoke of his appreciation for the ARES effort as well. "Orlando" was an opportunity to put faces to call signs, and I was especially pleased to meet Greg, Hillsborough County RACES Officer and EC Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, who was another key player in the Katrina response, and Harold Kramer, WJ1B, the League's Chief Operating Officer (a former Emergency Coordinator). Harold is a great guy and supporter of the ARES program. This ARES E-Letter was his idea originally. The Orlando Hamcation is held in the East Central District of the Northern Florida section, and DEC Jay Musikar, AF2C, was on hand to welcome attendees to his district. The ARES Forum was the highlight of the weekend for me, and I suspect, many others. -- K1CE =================== In This Issue: + New ARRL Committee to Evaluate National Emergency Response + Red Cross HQ Staff To Meet ARRL HQ Staff in Newington to Discuss Katrina Issues + Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (California) News + Jackson Hamfest Hosts Katrina Review + Government Perspective of Communication Failures Not to Be Missed + NIMS/ICS Training Essential + Opinion: ARES Appointment Requirements Should Include FEMA/ARRL Courses + International Beat: Working Group on Emergency Communications (WGEC) Seeks to Enhance Region 2 Support + Collaboration, not Control: An "Outsider's" Perspective on Katrina Operations + In Support of "Plain Language" + After Action Review and Reporting Philosophy + Delta Recognizes Amateurs + ARES Marketplace + K1CE For A Final =================== + New ARRL Committee to Evaluate National Emergency Response At its Annual Meeting in January, the League's Board of Directors established the National Emergency Response Planning Committee. The rationale was evidence and personal interviews with staff that such a committee would be necessary. "The League's national emergency response to large-scale disasters like Katrina warranted Board-level understanding and support of such work, and the creation of this committee takes care of that," said Dave Patton, NN1N, Manager, Field and Educational Services Department, ARRL Headquarters. + Red Cross HQ Staff To Meet ARRL HQ Staff in Newington to Discuss Katrina Issues Members of the American Red Cross HQ staff will meet later this month with ARRL HQ staff in Newington to discuss issues that arose from the Katrina response. Some of those issues have been discussed in previous issues of this newsletter. In the past, the American Red Cross staff have always been exceptionally receptive to reviewing what went right and wrong, and more than cooperative in issuing clarifications and modifications to the Statement of Understanding the League has enjoyed with the Congresionally-sanctioned organization since 1949. Many of the Red Cross staff are radio amateurs themselves. The Red Cross and the ARRL continue to enjoy a fine relationship at all levels. We will report meeting results in a future issue. + Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (California) News HDSCS closed out its 25th year with the North Pole Network at Children's Hospital of Orange County, capping its most active year ever with 32 events with hospitals. There were eight emergency responses, eight standby operations, seven drills and nine public service/demo events with hospitals during 2005. The most active year previously was 1994 with 31 events. A "Year End/Year Beginning Finale Meeting" at Kindred Hospital-Westminster recognized the "Disaster Dozen," the year's top 12 communicators. To be active in HDSCS, members must earn a minimum of five points in a year. Those that made the Disaster Dozen earned from 65 to more than 100 points. They participated in drills, responded to emergencies, helped out in standbys, attended meetings with hospital representatives, and were regulars on the weekly nets. They are: Paul Broden, K6MHD; Allen Bullock, KD6LCL; Bruce Chappell, KE6TSM; Tom Gaccione, WB2LRH; Dennis Kidder, WA6NIA; Jim McLaughlin, AB6UF; Joe Moell, K0OV; Dave Mofford, W7KTS; Cheryl Simpson, KD6MWZ; Ken Simpson, W6KOS; Clay Stearns, KE6TZR; and Fred Wagner, KQ6Q. A new AEC for HDSCS is Jim McLaughlin, AB6UF, a 15-year veteran of the group. HDSCS was just contacted by Kindred Hospital-Santa Ana requesting support of that facility. Thirty-four hospitals now have HDSCS support for any communications disruption or failure. Please see <http://www.hdscs.org/> -- April Moell, M.A., WA6OPS, Emergency Coordinator, Hospital Disaster Support Communications System, Orange County, California + Jackson Hamfest Hosts Katrina Review The Katrina Relief Review forum at the recent Jackson (Mississippi) Hamfest was productive and well attended. ECs, DECs, and a host of others were present. Positive interaction, valuable suggestions, comments and lessons learned were discussed. This was a good group of amateurs and their dedication and enthusiasm for ARES shown through. It was good to meet and talk with several of the amateurs that I worked with during the Katrina relief effort. Many Mississippi amateurs passed along their thanks and appreciation. Additional Katrina Relief Review forums will be held throughout the coming year. - Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, Alabama Section Manager + Government Perspective of Communication Failures Not to Be Missed The article "Missed Signals" appears in this month's issue of "Government Executive Magazine." It should be required reading for anyone involved in emergency communications, but especially ARES leaders. We can't help solve the problems faced by our served agencies until we understand them. See <http://www.govexec.com/features/0206-01/0206-01s2.htm> -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, ARES, SHARES, SKYWARN, ARRL EmComm Level 3 Certified, Official Emergency Station + NIMS/ICS Training Essential The Department of Homeland Security is requiring all first responders, including volunteers, to complete training in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by 2007. This sounds formidable, but in reality there is an Independent Study course from FEMA that covers it. The course is IS-700 - go to <http://www.training.fema.gov/EMIweb/IS/crslist.asp> and find the course list. Follow directions and you will get to IS-700. Readers can take the course on line or download the material and do it at their own pace. It shouldn't take more than three hours in any case. There's a final exam on line, but it isn't going to cost much sweat (or any money - courses are all free). After passing the final, the student will get notification by e-mail or regular mail. Readers are encouraged to look at the rest of the course offerings on the FEMA training Web site. They represent a wealth of knowledge, organized so that us real people can get through them and actually learn something. They aren't rocket science, just good stuff we need to know! -- John Amos, KC6TVM, ADEC, Hospital Net Coordinator, Santa Clara County, California. See also IS-100, and IS-200. -- Lloyd Colston <email@example.com> K3XO training also available: <http://www.k3xo.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5> The ICS course is available free of charge. -- Rip Smith, K3XO + Opinion: ARES Appointment Requirements Should Include FEMA/ARRL Courses Successful completion of the ARRL Levels 1, 2, and 3 emcomm courses and FEMA courses IS-100 and IS-700 should be a requirement for all new SECs, DECs, ECs and Official Emergency Stations (OES). ARRL could grandfather current appointees with the provision that they complete the required course work within three years. These courses provide the basics that every ARES appointee should have if they are to work effectively with served agencies and each other. There is a need for a new minimum level of training for ARES operators. - Dennis Baumgarte, AE2EE, EC Dutchess County, New York; SEC Eastern New York; and Radio Officer, Orange County, New York + International Beat: Working Group on Emergency Communications (WGEC) Seeks to Enhance Region 2 Support Following the first Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference (GAREC 2005) held in Tampere, Finland last year, the IARU Region 2 Executive Committee formed a Working Group on Emergency Communications (WGEC) to make recommendations for the IARU Region 2 organization to better support its Member Societies and improve their capability. Noel E. Donawa, 9Y4NED, was appointed Chairman of the committee (WGEC), along with members: Area Emergency Advisors Arnie Coro, CO2KK, Cesar Santos, HR2P, and Steve Ewald, WV1X, of the ARRL staff; telecomms expert Fred Kleber, K9VV; and IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator (EMCOR) Rick Palm, K1CE. The WGEC reviewed the existing EMCOR Terms of Reference and data available from the EMCOR Web site <http://www.iaru-r2emcor.net/> including reports of operations following disaster events, preparedness, response capability, mobility and performance, level of training, ability to respond in rural areas, inventory of equipment, availability of personnel for rapid response, relations with national disaster management agencies and levels of certification for operators. The study was done in light of the recent increase of hurricane, earthquake, flooding and land slide disasters and the implementation of ITU recommendations to governments to embrace the resources of Amateur Radio operators. The WGEC agreed that the EMCOR function should include offering training materials and seminars to improve Region 2 performance. Further, the WGEC proposed new EMCOR structure to better encourage the region's Member Societies to set up emergency response assets that can be deployed nationally into rural areas, and internationally for purposes of mutual assistance. The committee concluded that the IARU, the international organization representing the interests of Amateur Radio globally, needs to foster these goals across all three regions of the world. The WGEC is concluding its work and expects to present its recommendations to the Region 2 Executive Committee soon. + Collaboration, not Control: An "Outsider's" Perspective on Katrina Operations [The following is from an amateur who deployed from Georgia to the affected areas, and offers the perspective of the "outsider." - ed.] I didn't see any steamrolling by us, the non-locals; we were not trying to take control of the response from local ARES constituents. But it should be expected that local ECs and EOCs will be impacted by the disaster effects, and may not be in a position to lead operations early on. This was the case in several locations. ECs, their local ARES groups, and EOCs should not be surprised to see outsiders in "their" area if they have not been in operation and communication. When ECs resurface after taking care of their own immediate needs and concerns, the first step should be to assess what is and is not working, and then think about integration. Determining who is in control should come last, and should be collaborative with incoming mutual assistance responders. In the areas I served, the first action of the locals appeared to be the "I'm in charge here" type of commands, followed by control struggles with no attempt to gain mutual understanding and the need for integration. On the other hand, external teams should be prepared to be assimilated into local ARES efforts as they come on line. During our Katrina response, while we were able to do significant good, we were underutilized despite the need and our capabilities. A Red Cross shelter manager said "the first contact we had with anyone was when the Army helicopter landed 2-3 days after the hurricane passed; our second contact was with the Amateur Radio team that showed up." That team was dispatched via the Montgomery staging area, not part of the local ARES organization, which legitimately had problems of their own to deal with. The point is, don't discount the utility of the outsider ARES operator coming in to assist the local effort. - Alan Barrow, KM4BA + In Support of "Plain Language" From the FEMA NIMS FAQ: The use of plain language in emergency response situations is a matter of public safety, especially the safety of first responders and those affected by the incident. It is critical that all local responders, as well as those coming into the impacted area from other jurisdictions, know and use commonly established operational structures, terminology, policies and procedures. This is what NIMS and the Incident Command System (ICS) are all about - achieving interoperability across jurisdictions and disciplines. The use of common terminology is about the ability of area commanders, state and local EOC personnel, federal operational coordinators, and responders to communicate clearly with each other and effectively coordinate response activities, no matter what the size, scope or complexity of the incident. FEMA requires that plain English be used for multi-agency, multi-jurisdiction and multi-discipline events, such as major disasters and exercises. Beginning in the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, 2007, federal preparedness grant funding is contingent on the use of plain English in major incidents requiring assistance from responders from other agencies, jurisdictions and functional disciplines. It is important to practice everyday terminology and procedures that will need to be used in emergency incidents and disasters. NIMS implementation is a long-term effort and it's probably not possible to persuade everyone to change ingrained habits overnight. But over time, everyone will understand the importance of using common terminology, that is, plain English, every day. See <http://faq.fema.gov/cgi-bin/fema.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php> -- Submitted by Les Rayburn, N1LF + After Action Review and Reporting Philosophy Having been part of numerous "Lessons Learned" meetings in industry, there are both public and private aspects of these reviews. The review itself must be restricted to only those parties that actually participated. Press, and staff/management more than a level or two removed should not be present or the necessary honesty will not be forthcoming. In addition, the published report should avoid identifying individuals. The report itself must be public within the appropriate community - in this case the amateur emcomm community. It is part of the long-term validation cycle that drives improvement. Without a public report that identifies successes and failures, there is no way for the community to decide what needs to be preserved, fixed, or discarded. Entities that did well will not receive the benefit of their success. Entities that did poorly have no incentive to demonstrate improvement. Should the report's information be published to the public at large; i.e., QST? Not without serious filtering and judgment. The general QST readership does not have the background to place all of the report's information in context. It is entirely appropriate for QST coverage to identify specific points of organizational failure. Wherever possible, the expected response should also be included so that the readers will know what actions to expect. If possible, there should also be follow-up coverage to major events such as Katrina. Balancing the public's need-to-know with an organization's need for accountability and an individual's need for support in his or her job is very difficult, particularly in a situation where things did not go well across the board. All three must be accommodated, however, if the capabilities of the community are to improve. -- Ward Silver, N0AX, EC Vashon Island ARES + Delta Recognizes Amateurs Amateur Radio and its contributions in the realm of emergency communications recognized again, this time by Delta Airlines: <http://www.delta-sky.com/2006_02/RolePlaying/index.html> -- Jay Musikar, AF2C, District EC, East Central District, Northern Florida Section ARES + ARES Marketplace A handsome all-brass ARES belt buckle is available: <http://www.ItsUrCall.com/>. The company has a marketing agreement with the ARRL and is producing the belt buckles with an ARES theme. ARRL receives a portion of each sale. They're not cheap, but I know I'm going to get one. - K1CE HAMTHREADS <http://www.hamthreads.com/> makes ARES, RACES, and SKYWARN hats, shirts, jackets and vests, with 3M Reflective Tape for high visibility. Club discounts provided. - Dave Birdsley, KF8WS, B & B Embroidery/Ham Threads + K1CE for a Final Got an ARES Net this week? Try running the net exclusively in plain language - no jargon! It should be an interesting and fun exercise. Let me know how it goes: <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I'm an RN at the city hospital in Daytona Beach, and we are also striving to use plain language instead of medical jargon; for example, "right eye" instead of "O.D." or "oculus dexter." I am going to take FEMA's NIMS/ICS on-line training before the next release of this newsletter. I'll let you know how it goes in the next issue.