ARES E-Letter for July 19, 2006
The ARES E-Letter July 19, 2006 ================= Rick Palm, K1CE, Editor <http://www.qrz.com/database?callsign=K1CE>, <http://www.iaru-r2emcor.net/> =================================== ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: <email@example.com>; =================================== + THE VIEW FROM FLAGLER COUNTY Northern Florida ARES officials met at the State EOC in Tallahassee, on June 27. Attendees included SM Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, SEC Joe Bushel, W2DWR, James "Kimo" Montague, K4IMO, and John Fleming, WD4FFX, both of the EOC staff, along with DECs from the northern part of the peninsula and the panhandle, myself and my long-suffering XYL Joanne, W1GUN. I had never been to Tallahassee, let alone the state EOC. It was a good opportunity to see the facility, and talk to the section's key ARES people, and the battle-hardened veteran emergency communication professionals Montague and Fleming. They have seen it all over decades in their roles. The EOC is huge, with a wide array of communication systems, including top secret modes, and a well-equipped amateur station positioned at the State Warning Point. After Hubbard explained the ARES organizational structure and section plan, he emphasized the fundamental concept of the EC having total responsibility for the functioning of his county program, and reiterated the section policy of supporting all modes of communication for ARES operations. The latter has sadly been a source of controversy recently. Hubbard called for reconciliation so that the section's Amateur Radio emergency communication community can focus on its mission. Hubbard discussed the purpose and functioning of the State Tracker System, which provides for the registration of needs by counties, and the subsequent assignment of assets with tracker file numbers. Fleming demonstrated the PC-based system. The state EOC is not involved in lower level incidents, which are managed by the county and district entities. However, if the State is asked for assistance, the tracker system is employed. Fleming emphasized the importance of good relationships between the county Emergency Management officials and their ARES counterparts: The state EOC formally communicates directly with the county Emergency Management official only. The group discussed the need to pre-plan and coordinate the use of radio amateurs by served agencies that tend to usurp them, undermining the authority of the designated ECs and DECs. The specific example of the Red Cross was discussed. A brief discussion of Hurricane Katrina activities followed, with the State of Florida officials concluding that they would not be sending assets out-of-state in the future owing to the need to have enough here in the state for their own disaster responses. Fleming also emphasized that the state EOC will not be involved in deploying radio amateurs in future events, stating that the function should be performed by a national-level entity. A protracted discussion of the training and certification of deployable radio amateurs led to the conclusion that the FEMA courses IS-100 and IS-200, or IS-700, be required along with the ARECC Level One course. Fleming said that the State has made grants to counties to fund these training courses. Fleming and his staff have traveled extensively to large Amateur Radio meetings and conventions around the state to promote training, coordination, and support for Amateur Radio functions, a point noted with appreciation by the group. Fleming also noted the "extraordinary improvement of relations between radio amateurs and State officials over the past 10 to 15 years." This brought a round of applause. An in-depth discussion of the current Northern Florida ARES Plan ensued, focusing primarily on the need to merge the ARES Levels of Alert with the State Levels of Alert. Fleming said that the current Plan is good, and ARES needs to follow the plan during activations. He suggested that existing District, County and any City ARES Plans be appended to the Section-wide plan for informational purposes. It was a good meeting, and it was nice to see the amateur station in such a prominent position within the EOC, just a few feet from where Governor Jeb Bush addresses the media during major events. ========================================= IN THIS ISSUE: + THE VIEW FROM FLAGLER COUNTY + JUNE ARES REPORTS + GAREC-2006 + RED CROSS GIVES THANKS + REPORT ASSESSES CATASTROPHIC PLANNING CAPABILITIES NATIONWIDE + EDITORIAL: KNOW YOUR CONSUMERS + IDEA: TURTLES + EDITORIAL: MANDATES FOR TRAINING + LETTERS: RESPONSE TO CALL FOR PROPER WRITING + HIPAA COMPLIANCE + K1CE FOR A FINAL ========================================= + JUNE ARES REPORTS: Field Day 2006 turned from exercise into an actual emergency when ARES supported a flooding event in Sussex County, Delaware. Some areas received 15 inches of rain from the stalled weather system. Emergency Management had a difficult time providing road and medical crews to the affected areas due to the high water. Communications were disrupted by the volume of water affecting both microwave relay and buried phone lines that were severed. During the event, amateurs stood by for communications assistance needed, on frequency and ready to go. Information was passed in tactical mode, with no formal messages. The National Weather Service requested that Delaware Skywarn be activated: Amateurs relayed reports of rainfall as well as roads impassable from high water and washed out bridges. Some operators were mobile in the affected areas giving NWS important reports. Thanks to the NWS, messages were relayed to the Sussex EOC making this a full circle of information sharing. -- Justin T. Kates, KB3JUV, Military AAT3OT, Communication Corps Coordinator, Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) <www.kb3juv.com> + GAREC-2006 ARRL First Vice President Kay Craigie, N3KN, represented the League at the 2006 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications conference (GAREC-2006) in Tampere, Finland, on June 19 and 20. GAREC-2006 was held concurrently with the International Conference on Emergency Communications (ICEC2006) convened by Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, and the Finnish Communication Regulatory Authority. The purpose of ICEC2006 was to support ratification and implementation of the Tampere Convention of 1998. GAREC-2006 was also held concurrently with a session of the ITU's Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET). Having the three conferences held concurrently offered opportunities for the GAREC-2006 participants to meet emergency communications officials from many governments and international agencies. It also gave the Amateurs a chance to see a larger-scale view of international disaster telecommunications than we usually have access to. At the opening joint session of the three conferences, one of the speakers was IARU Vice President Tim Ellam, VE6SH. Amateurs at GAREC-2006 represented Italy, Sweden, India, Finland, Ireland, Canada, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland, Greece, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, and the United States. Hams from other countries who were delegates to the other conferences stopped in for parts of the GAREC-2006 sessions. Vice President Craigie was elected to chair the conference. Making statements on behalf of the three IARU regions were Panayot Danev, LZ1US, from Region 1, Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AMH, from Region 2, and Ramiah Ramachandra, VU2RCR, from Region 3. Conference participants were given the opportunity to make presentations about recent emergency operations involving the Amateur Radio Service in their home countries. Seven countries' participants made presentations: Sweden, India, Greece, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United States. Many Amateurs in the USA are not aware of how different the emergency communications environment is for hams in some other regions of the world. The GAREC conferences in 2005 and 2006 provided very valuable opportunities to exchange information about specific activities and to learn how our various countries' Amateur Radio cultures and governmental regulatory environments affect hams' service during disasters. The GAREC-2006 final statement has not yet been posted on the web but will be available soon. + RED CROSS GIVES THANKS "On behalf of the American Red Cross I would like to thank the ARES organization in southeast Wisconsin and especially Washington County EC Larry Puza, WB9BVB, for the timely, efficient, and professional response to the Red Cross request for communicators in conjunction with the disaster operation resulting from the tornado strike outside of Hartford. "The call went out late Sunday night, which landed in the lap of Gary Payne, N9VE, the District Emergency Coordinator. Through him and the ECs for Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, Greg Wolfe, K9ZZZ and Dan Workenaour, N9ASA, the number of communicators were found, organized and dispatched. "This was the first exposure to use of amateur operators in a disaster for a number of the lead Red Cross personnel involved with this response. They now know the value of efficient, well-organized, professional communication and loudly sing the praises of ham radio. "Buckle your belts, the requests for ham operators to help in time of disaster, and not necessarily "the big one" only, will certainly be forthcoming because of the favorable impression made by the ham responders in Hartford. A very large thank you to all involved." -- D. Stephen Buck, N9EAL, Communications Function Lead, American Red Cross Greater Milwaukee Chapter To: Don Moore, KM0R, Missouri SEC: "It was my privilege to work with your ECs in April while deployed with the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) to the tornado emergency that struck Caruthersville, Missouri. The purpose of the ECRV is to provide emergency communications and technology support to Red Cross disaster relief operations. The ECs assisted us with installation of 2 meter and low-band antennas on the roof of our temporary facility. They shared their feedline, connectors, and tools in addition to their expertise, labor, ingenuity, and hospitality. "These individuals exemplified the public service component of Amateur Radio through their skills, professionalism, and desire to serve. Please accept this note of gratitude on behalf of the American Red Cross. -- Craig Dieckman, KC9HWK, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, Response Technology Team Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) Operator + REPORT ASSESSES CATASTROPHIC PLANNING CAPABILITIES NATIONWIDE June 16, 2006 -- The Department of Homeland Security has issued findings from a national assessment of the country's catastrophic planning capabilities. Responding to directives from President Bush and Congress following Hurricane Katrina, the Nationwide Plan Review looked at whether existing emergency operations plans for states and urban areas are sufficient for managing a catastrophic event. The Review also presents conclusions on actions needed by the federal government to improve and coordinate planning. Here are some excerpts, citing ARES and Amateur Radio, culled by South Texas SEC Jerry Reimer, KK5CA: [Areas of Relative Strength] "The Review found that many State and urban area EOCs have added an emergency support function to incorporate Amateur Radio networks." [Best Practices] "Rhode Island integrates volunteer organizations into nine of their ESFs and includes them at the State EOC, including Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) to provide Amateur Radio operations, the Civil Air Patrol to provide transportation and aerial reconnaissance and real-time imagery, Medical Reserve Corps for medical-surgical, and the American Red Cross and Salvation Army for shelter operations." + EDITORIAL: KNOW YOUR CONSUMERS The purpose of ARES is to provide a service -- communication. To facilitate this, we educate our members, drill net protocols, practice message passing, and learn emerging technology. But how many can say they know anything about the entities ARES serves? Unless having completed the FEMA ICS courses, little is likely known about a system used by many emergency management offices. While operationally significant, the Incident Command System only gives a partial picture of emergency management communication needs. While radio amateurs are practiced net control operators, how many have the exposure to public safety protocols and procedures to be an effective dispatcher if the county 800 MHz trunk system fails? Another primary consumer of ARES services is the Red Cross. How many ARES operators know what services the Red Cross provides in a disaster relief operation? How many know how a Red Cross operation transitions when its National headquarters becomes involved? Unless the ARES member is also an active Red Cross volunteer, the answer is likely very few. As communicators, why should we care? Because knowing the operational protocols and procedures of those we serve will increase our effectiveness as communicators for them. What does it take to be trained on ICS or the Red Cross' procedures? Time. FEMA has the ICS courses available free at their online Emergency Management Institute. The Red Cross' Introduction to Disaster Services course is available free online at the national Red Cross website. The Red Cross' Logistics Overview and Shelter Operations courses, which provide the basics of the operations for which ARES mainly would be moving traffic, are free through the local chapter. The other key aspect to knowing your consumers is making sure they know you. If the only time government agencies and organizations see or hear from ARES is as a disaster operation executes, they have little reason to have confidence in ARES' capabilities. In some cases, if there has not been regular collaborative contact before a disaster, ARES may not even be included in their operational plans. Expertise in Amateur Radio modes of communication makes the ARES operator a valuable asset. Knowledge of the agencies and organizations ARES offers its services will make ARES operators more effective and will provide a method to build an environment of collaboration with consumers before a disaster occurs. Additionally, Homeland Security is mandating the use of ICS. Therefore, OEMs are beginning to require proof of ICS training before ARES members can even step in their EOC or participate in their operations. With the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross is implementing additional safety and security measures a person must qualify through to work with a Red Cross operation. Bottom line, ARES groups need to build and maintain a collaborative environment with the agencies and organizations they wish to serve or risk finding themselves sidelined. -- Michael Potaczala, KC4NUS, AEC, Orange County, Florida + IDEA: "TURTLES" I am a member of the boomer generation. We boomers are an eclectic bunch, but where ARES/RACES is concerned, there is one particular boomer demographic that has not been fully recognized for its potential, especially in the very early stages of a disaster response. It is a solid fact that boomers own more self contained recreational vehicles than any other purchasing group. What has that got to do with ARES/RACES? As more boomers-amateurs answer the call, the number of responders arriving on scene who won't "need to be found and issued immediate room and board" will increase dramatically. The question of where to house responders when every dwelling and structure for miles around has been either destroyed or rendered unsafe for occupation became a logistical nightmare with Katrina and Rita. Planners were forced to set up tent cities dozens of miles away, which resulted in horrific numbers of miscommunications, delays and other logistical pitfalls. Now just imagine an army of ARES volunteers able to respond and remain on scene for a week or more without the need of housing, food, sanitary or utility needs, and have the ability to contribute generated electricity and other services like satellite TV and even internet capabilities? As to setting up and manning emergency repeater sites, I've already met operators who have come up with ingenious tower installations. I've seen wire antennas stretched between two motor homes, and many other innovations. I would like to offer the nickname "TURTLES" to this next generation of self-contained responders, as we can arrive with our house on our back. Instead of having to worry about bed and board for these ARES operators, logistical planners would merely have to provide basic security for an impromptu RV park. Katrina taught us some hard lessons. It's time everyone started thinking beyond having a few extra batteries and granola bars packed in a go-bag. If the predictions of more severe weather patterns are only partially correct, week to month or longer deployments may well become the standard. Personally, I'd rather spend my sack time in my own (RV) bed than on some government surplus cot. What say you? -- Jeff Sabatini - KI6BCX + EDITORIAL: MANDATES FOR TRAINING My day job requires me to work closely with federal law enforcement, as well as leading emergency managers. In after-work conversations with them, I hear mixed emotions towards Amateur Radio. They are quick to praise our response, and usually point out that in the first few hours/days after a major event, we are often the only show in town---but in the next breath they will all recite horror stories of poor training, lack of preparation, and unprofessional behavior. Critical to changing this attitude is a real push by the League to mandate standards that reflect the needs of our served agencies. That means ICS/NIMS compliance. It also means adopting standards for digital communications. I personally saw the value of Winlink2K in Hancock County after Katrina. Among the actions that could be taken quickly: 1. Incorporate ICS-100 into the basic ARRL ARECC Level 1 course. Simply require students to complete the on-line FEMA course and e-mail their mentor a successful completion notice. No reprinting of course materials, no huge costs, just immediate benefits. 2. Mandate that NTS messages follow the ICS message format standards. Reprint those silly radiograms with their meaningless "word counts", etc. I love CW too, but we have to stop living in the past. 3. Require advanced NIMS/ICS training for leadership positions with ARES. It's available online for free. 4. Endorse digital standards. If Winlink is the HF standard, then work with dealers to obtain a discount for ARES groups, or seek to obtain grants to help offset the costs of amateurs purchasing the equipment. Ditto for a VHF/UHF standard. 5. Reward amateurs. The QST "Honor Roll" for those who complete all three ARECC training courses is a step in the right direction, but the top people need to be put on a par with top DXers or contesters. Why? Because they are going to be willing to spend their own money, and build truly useful mobile and base EMCOMM stations if they feel that it gives them status, the same way that they now build super DX stations, and contest operations. I'd revamp the "Public Service Honor Roll." Stop giving out points for sending messages with meaningless content like "CW is great X Use CW today" -- instead reward people for taking advanced training. Empower SECs to reward hams who provide exceptional service during emergencies. -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, ARES Official Emergency Station; National Communications System; SHARES; SKYWARN; ARECC Level 3 + LETTERS: RESPONSE TO CALL FOR PROPER WRITING "Mistur Bishup: Eye lyked ur artikel in the lazt ARES e-letur. Awl tue offen peeple fergit theyre ateth grayde englyshe wen riting letirs and e-males." - Hank Greeb, N8XX + HIPAA COMPLIANCE The department of Health and Human Services has generated a new "decision tool" on their web site to help emergency responders make quick decisions about the release of health related information as it applies to privacy concerns. This has been a hot topic for some time now. Thought it might be useful for others. You can view the tool here: <http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/decisiontool/> -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, Helena, Alabama + K1CE FOR A FINAL -- At the Tallahassee meeting, we noted the excellent job performed by Joe Bushel, W2DWR, as Section Emergency Coordinator, and his desire to retire from that position to concentrate on other personal goals. Joe had the right stuff for the job: good judgment, and senses of humility, humor and dedication to his DECs and ECs. Good job, Joe. -- The League's Board meets this week in Connecticut, and an interim report will be filed by the chairman (Kay Craigie, N3KN) of its National Emergency Response Planning Committee (NERPC), of which I've served as a member. This has been a hard-working group of experts in their respective fields, and there is solid output to be reported. I'll have some perspective on the report in next month's issue. -- Flagler county ARES put forth a good operation in support of the county's July Fourth Parade, with operators, including my XYL Joanne, in their shiny new ARES Vests. We're proud of our program here! See you next month!