ARES E-Letter for April 22, 2008
The ARES E-Letter April 22, 2008 ================= Rick Palm, K1CE, Editor <http://www.qrz.com/database?callsign=K1CE>, =================================== ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: <firstname.lastname@example.org>;; =================================== + The View from Flagler County It's that time of year when hurricane season preparation ratchets up: the National Hurricane Conference was held in Orlando earlier this month, and state and county EMAs are currently checking plans and assets. Now is also the time for ARES members to assess their portfolio of communications equipment and disaster response knowledge. Monitor major HF hurricane networks during events this season. The Hurricane Watch Net on 14.325 MHz, is one of several key players. It serves either the Atlantic or Pacific during a watch or warning period and coordinates with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami. Frequent, detailed information is issued on nets when storms pose a threat to the US mainland. In addition to hurricane spotting, local communicators may announce that residents have evacuated from low-lying flood areas. Other amateurs across the country can help by relaying information, keeping the net frequency clear and by listening. See <http://www.hwn.org/>. The net works closely with the hams at the NHC station WX4NHC <http://www.wx4nhc.com/> The SATERN Net (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network), provides emergency communication support to the Salvation Army and populations at large. They also handle health-and-welfare traffic. SATERN holds high profile nets on 20-meters (14.265 MHz) during major hurricanes, and has a long history of excellence, discipline and service. Refer to the SATERN Web site <http://www.satern.org/>. The Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) meets on 14.300 MHz and is composed of hams who serve and assist those in need of communications on the high seas. According to its Web site <http://www.mmsn.org/>, the primary purpose of the net is for handling traffic from maritime mobiles. The network is recognized by the United States Coast Guard and has an excellent working relationship with that agency. The MMSN has handled hundreds of incidents involving vessels in distress, medical emergencies in remote locations and passing health and welfare traffic in and out of affected areas. They also work closely with the NWS and NHC by relaying weather reports from maritime stations. The VoIP SKYWARN and Hurricane Net operates by combining both the Echolink and IRLP linked repeater networks, while handling critical wide area communications during major severe weather and tropical events. These operations have gained national stature in recent years, and provide excellent service. Whenever tropical weather is imposing a threat to the U.S. mainland and certain other areas of interest, the VoIP WX-NET will be fully operational. See <http://www.voipwx.net/>. During hurricane events, there are usually two or three regional nets (on 40 or 20 meters) that spring to prominence as major, key assets to the disaster response on an ad hoc basis. Watch for these nets, as well as the nationally-recognized networks above, this season. Don't transmit on their frequencies unless you are absolutely sure you have something substantive to add, and then only under the direction of the net control station. -------------- In This Issue: + The View from Flagler County + ARES Confers at National Hurricane Conference, Orlando + National Hurricane Center Director Lauds Hams + "Digital Saturday" Provides Training in Digital Modes + Red Cross Disaster Action Team Drill Turns into the Real Thing + Greater Bridgeport ARC (CT) to Support New EOC + Ohio ARES Teams Lend Support to Hepatitis Vaccination Clinic + LETTERS: Sending E-mail Via SMS (SMS Gateways) + FEEDBACK: SATERN Does Not Require Background Checks + LETTERS: Licensing Standards Diminished + LETTERS: FEMA Now Responsible for Mass Care; ARES Role More Defined? + LETTERS: FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee Offers Perspective + RESOURCES: New EmComm E-Zine Available + RESOURCES: Tarrant County (TX) SKYWARN Video is Excellent + K1CE For a Final -------------- + ARES Confers at National Hurricane Conference, Orlando National Hurricane Center (NHC) Amateur Radio station coordinators John McHugh, K4AG, and Julio Ripoll, WD4R, discussed the interaction and importance of Amateur Radio in the forecasting of tropical events at the Amateur Radio Session of the National Hurricane Conference earlier this month. McHugh also discussed the Caribbean Amateur Radio Meteorological Emergency Network (CARMEN) program, outlining how the program in its current stage can use revitalization and rebuilding to provide improved information to the NHC. Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net Rob Macedo, KD1CY, presented a detailed overview of the system that integrates EchoLink and the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP). For the past few years, this operation has been building to become another reliable source of information for the National Hurricane Center. ARRL HQ's EmComm Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, and Macedo offered the final Amateur Radio presentation of the Conference, "Disaster Intelligence and Situational Awareness Utilizing Amateur Radio." This discussion went beyond the traditional uses of Amateur Radio into the areas of damage assessment, infrastructure monitoring, communications systems replacement and rapid situational analyses. [The National Hurricane Conference has a long history of support of Amateur Radio operators, waiving registration fees for those attending its special session on Amateur Radio. For years, the session has welcomed luminaries from the emergency management arena. We thank the National Hurricane Conference for this support. -- ed.] + National Hurricane Center Director Lauds Hams National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read, KB5FYA, praised Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month <http://www.voipwx.net/local/Bill_Read_on_Ham_Radio_Hurricane_Conference2008.wmv>. "Ham radio has always played a critical role in emergencies," Read said. "What goes out when you have a high wind event or major flooding is the communications system, so you lose even cell phones, landline phones, commercial radio and TV. In those cases, ham radio operators that can put up emergency transmitters and antennas in the wake of a storm can give us reports that are valuable. They also help in the search and rescue efforts in the aftermath." The NHC has a dedicated amateur station on-site -- WX4NHC -- and has worked closely with hams for decades. -- Dan Musten, KD4RAA, and John Van Pelt, K4JVP, AEC for Central Carolina Skywarn + "Digital Saturday" Provides Training in Digital Modes Georgia SEC Scott Royle, KK4Z, challenged the Section to increase training and use of digital modes in 2008. Gwinnett County, Georgia ARES was already active on digital modes with three digipeaters, a Winlink 2000 node and a D-Star repeater. The weekly Training Net takes Packet as well as voice check-ins. With new members coming onboard and others exploring digital modes, Gwinnett ARES AEC for Digital, Ed Woodrick, WA4YIH, developed a day of classes on various digital modes titled "Digital Saturday." Twenty-five Gwinnett ARES members participated in training in APRS, Packet Basics, D-Star Data, Winlink 2000, D-Star Operation and Programming, and PSK31. Each of the hour-long classes provided information on the topic as well as hands-on demonstrations of each technology. An RMS Packet node setup onsite allowed e-mails to be transmitted and received via Winlink 2000 and the Airmail client. Instructors for the classes included Gwinnett ARES members experienced in specific digital modes and the Georgia ASEC for Digital, Tom Olley, KG4VUB. It is hoped that Digital Saturday will allow Gwinnett ARES members to become more proficient and use various modes of digital communications. Presentations from Digital Saturday are available on the Gwinnett ARES Web site, <http://www.gwinnettares.org/>. -- John Davis WB4QDX, Emergency Coordinator, Gwinnett County, Georgia <email@example.com> + Red Cross Disaster Action Team Drill Turns into the Real Thing BRIDGEPORT, CT, February 2, 2008 -- The American Red Cross Mid-Fairfield County Chapter held a drill to familiarize Disaster Action Team (DAT) members with the territory serviced by the chapter, gain experience in the use of GPS to navigate to a destination, learn about the use of radio during a deployment, and compare the operation of VHF/UHF amateur radios and Red Cross 47.420 MHz radios. The Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club (GBARC) supports the Red Cross with nine fully qualified and trained Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers. The plan was to deploy five Red Cross vehicles to different destinations within the ten served communities covering over 200 square miles. Each vehicle would deploy with a ham operator carrying a handheld VHF/UHF radio and four of the vehicles would have a permanently installed Red Cross 47.420 MHz radio. In order to gain experience, only non-hams were to operate the Red Cross radios. A base station would be situated at the Bridgeport chapter house. Two amateur radios capable of simultaneously handling a total of four amateur VHF/UHF frequencies and a Red Cross radio operating on the 47.420 MHz frequency were installed at the base. The amateur radios would use repeaters located in Norwalk, Fairfield, Milford and Bridgeport. There are no repeaters for the Red Cross radios in the area. Just minutes prior to the start of the drill, a real incident occurred and the volunteers responded. Radio contact using the 47.420 MHz frequency was not possible once the vehicles were on scene at the incident site four miles away in Stratford. This was due to an intervening hill that prevented line of site communications. Amateur Radio, however, performed flawlessly using repeaters in Bridgeport and Fairfield. The variety of available repeater locations and their antenna height provides the flexibility and capability to virtually eliminate communications problems due to terrain or structural interference. -- John Russo, KA1JXW, Public Information Officer, Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club <firstname.lastname@example.org> + Greater Bridgeport ARC (CT) to Support New EOC BRIDGEPORT, CT, February 25, 2008 -- The greater Bridgeport metropolitan area was just designated as an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) site. This means Homeland Security funds will be made available to Bridgeport and the surrounding area to enhance prevention, preparedness, response and recovery to events involving all natural and man made hazards, including terrorism. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) along with Bridgeport Mayor Finch and Norwalk Mayor Moccia held a press conference on February 25 to discuss this designation at the new Bridgeport Combined Emergency Dispatch and Emergency Operations Center (EOC), scheduled to open in September 2008. Bridgeport Director of Emergency Management, Scott Appleby, hosted the event. The new center will house a combined emergency dispatch center (911 Center) along with a state-of-the-art EOC. The facility will withstand hurricane force winds, have multiple power and other backup systems and includes the latest technological advances to assure uninterrupted command and control during any emergency situation. The center includes a room dedicated to Amateur Radio communications. The equipment and antennas have been specified by the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club, Inc. (GBARC) and purchased by the city of Bridgeport. GBARC will supply volunteer operators for the ham facility. Amateur Radio and GBARC are an integral part of the Emergency Operations Plan for the city. -- John Russo, KA1JXW, Public Information Officer, Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club <email@example.com> + Ohio ARES Teams Lend Support to Hepatitis Vaccination Clinic When a hepatitis A outbreak alarmed residents of West Chester, Ohio last month, local officials worked to inoculate more than 1200 people who had eaten at a local fast food restaurant; an employee with a confirmed case of the virus who worked at the restaurant in March may have contaminated ice and other food items, health officials said. Inundated with more people than expected, Butler County Health Department and Emergency Management officials were overwhelmed with traffic, communication problems and general logistics. When a second hepatitis A vaccination clinic was scheduled for April 5, officials called on local ARES to assist with communications, as well as traffic and crowd control. District Emergency Coordinator Robert Spratt, N8TVU, reported officials at the first clinic could not communicate on their cell phones due to lack of coverage in the area. "Officials had only planned for about 800 people to show up to get inoculated. When they had more than 1200 people show up, they tried using their cell phones to call and get more vaccine, but they just wouldn't work." Calls made to 911 for police back-up to deal with unruly persons also had trouble getting through. At the second clinic, eight hams from both Butler County and Hamilton County were on site and ready to assist. The clinic, located at a church, was scheduled to run from 10 AM-4 PM. The hams were ready for early crowds; at the first clinic, people were standing in line more than two hours before the doors opened. "When the ARES team arrived, they established the parking lot area, the traffic flow patterns into and out of the church area and set up the required communications," Spratt said. More than 225 people received hepatitis A vaccinations at the second clinic and ARES members directed more than 1200 cars to their correct destinations on the property. The Butler County Health Department officials, clinic staff, the Butler County Emergency Management Agency, the West Chester Police Department and church officials thanked the ARES team for a job well done. Ohio District 4 ARES teams in Warren, Clermont, Hamilton, and Butler counties have had prior Volunteer Reception Center and vaccination clinic operation training that "helped greatly in understanding and knowing what would be needed in the way of communications at the clinic, as well as security, traffic control and crowd control." The Ohio Section Emergency Response Plan (OSERP) <http://www.trac-online.org/Docs/oserp.pdf> outlines how ARES is activated in the Section, who reports to whom and how communication flows. Many ARES districts have participated with their Regional Medical Response Systems in their assigned districts on tabletop exercises, as well as actual call-up drills. In February, District 3, under the command of ADEC Fred Stone, W8LLY, conducted a Pandemic Flu activation that extended over several days, including a real-time snow storm which affected the drill. This vaccination clinic this past weekend proved that ARES is vital to the emergency medical community. -- excerpted from the ARRL Letter + LETTERS: Sending E-mail Via SMS (SMS Gateways) During Katrina, and recently the Nevada earthquake, traditional cellular voice service was overwhelmed due to a combination of damaged infrastructure and system overloads. In many cases, however, it was noted that Short Messaging System (SMS or "text") would often function when voice circuits would not. It's also possible to send these SMS messages via e-mail in most cases, using SMS Gateways. If you are deploying ARES team members into an affected area, you should test their cell phones for this capability before they leave. It's also important to limit the message length, since most carriers restrict SMS messages to 160 characters. Below is a list of the major carriers in North America that offer SMS gateway services. Others can usually be found using search engines. An SMS gateway provides an easy way for you to communicate with deployed ARES team members, family members, or anyone whose cell phone number and carrier you're sure of. In many cases, we were able to help people outside the affected area reach their loved ones more quickly using these gateways. Also, before deploying in approach of Katrina and Rita, we purchased inexpensive pre-paid cell phones at Wal-Mart for two or three of the other major carriers (we carry T-Mobile phones). These included Verizon, Cingular (AT&T), and Spring. Even in some of the worst areas impacted by the storms, we were usually able to communicate on at least one of the phones we had with us. This adds an important degree of team safety. -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, Shelby County, Alabama Emergency Coordinator NCS-SHARES NCS-047 Alltel [10-digit phone number]@message.alltel.com Example: firstname.lastname@example.org AT&T Wireless (now part of Cingular) [10-digit phone number]@mmode.com Example: email@example.com Boost Mobile [10-digit phone number]@myboostmobile.com Example: firstname.lastname@example.org Cingular [10-digit phone number]@mobile.mycingular.com OR [10-digit number]@cingularme.com Example: email@example.com Nextel (now Sprint Nextel) [10-digit telephone number]@messaging.nextel.com Example: firstname.lastname@example.org Sprint PCS (now Sprint Nextel) [10-digit phone number]@messaging.sprintpcs.com Example: email@example.com T-Mobile [10-digit phone number]@tmomail.net Example: firstname.lastname@example.org Verizon [10-digit phone number]@vtext.com Example: email@example.com Virgin Mobile USA [10-digit phone number]@vmobl.com Example: firstname.lastname@example.org + FEEDBACK: SATERN Does Not Require Background Checks I would like to clarify and correct a statement that Gary Wilson, K2GW, Southern NJ SEC, made in his letter published in the March ARES E-letter: "SATERN also requires background checks on its volunteers." SATERN is a national program of The Salvation Army and as such would neither be likely nor authorized to request background checks. There is NO background check required as a condition of membership in SATERN. If an individual would like to become a Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Volunteer and work with a local Salvation Army unit directly helping survivors of emergencies, whether as a SATERN member or not, a character background check is usually performed by The Salvation Army as part of the vetting process of all Salvation Army Volunteers. However, there is no requirement for submission of one's Social Security Number nor is there any financial background check performed. Many SATERN Members provide very valuable and much appreciated assistance during emergencies from their home stations, hundreds, even thousands, of miles from the actual site. -- Richard Montgomery, N3DV, Eastern Territory SATERN Coordinator + LETTERS: Licensing Standards Diminished In response to last month's item by Bill Stietenroth, K5ZTY, Houston, Texas, and a previous one by Steve Fleckenstein, N2UBP, I couldn't agree more. I originally was licensed while in high school in 1952. My primary interest was the technology involved (I had previously built two-way radios in cigar boxes using filament miniature vacuum tubes). I thus enjoyed designing and building my own equipment (I'm a retired aerospace electronics design engineer) and talking with it on the air with similarly oriented hams. However, by 1968, there seemed to be few hams who knew (nor cared) about the technical aspects, so I let my license expire. But recently, the local Red Cross advertised for a ham to organize the hams in this county and set up an emergency communications network in this mountainous, line-of-sight communications area. I took all the tests again (and was amazed at how easy they were as compared to those of 1952!) and went on to obtain my Extra Class. I then taught a class of several months and graduated seven new hams. We've since added several more. However, I made them suffer! The classes were based on the ARRL publication "Now You're Talking," but went well beyond that material from a technical standpoint. We had detailed discussions on electronics mathematics, circuits, construction projects, troubleshooting, etc. Today, we've received many kudos for our emergency ARES drills in Towns County, Georgia, and are installing a donated repeater on a mountain, all as a local communications branch and with the terrific support of the Red Cross (of which most of us are also members). But, it didn't stop there! In addition to our weekly nets, we meet monthly for a two-hour technical course on a ham related topic. I'm doing my best to be sure that ARES operators know not only what knob to twist, but what happens when they twist it and why. -- Alton Higgins, W4VFZ, Georgia RACES, FEMA, GEMA, and Red Cross EC, Towns County, Georgia + LETTERS: FEMA Now Responsible for Mass Care; ARES Role More Defined? FEMA is now the lead agency for Mass Care (ESF #6) at the Federal level based on the recently released National Response Framework (replacing the National Response Plan). Red Cross still maintains a support role. The same is true in many states as well. For instance, in Georgia, the Department of Human Resources' Division of Family and Children Services is the government lead and Red Cross the volunteer lead for Mass Care. As a professional disaster preparedness planner, we recognize that the local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is ultimately the primary agency responsible for all disaster response. They have the ability to task whatever resources are appropriate to a response and assign them as needed, including communications (ESF #2 Telecommunications). This includes tasking ARES and/or RACES organizations to assist Red Cross with communications if communications support is requested by Red Cross to the local EMA. In the county where I live, Gwinnett County, Georgia, ESF 2 lists ARES as a supporting organization. That is how local ARES members respond and are assigned as needed. We as Amateur Radio operators and as members of ARES need to have a better understanding of core emergency response planning to understand just how we fit in. If something happens locally that requires my professional involvement, I probably won't be available to ARES, but if I can, I will, through the direction issued by the local EMA. It may be to support Red Cross who will take me as an EMA resource. I think it is probably true that Red Cross is having to learn to function within this structure as well. No single agency can provide all the resources in all the support functional areas that it needs during a disaster. That was discovered during Katrina. That is why we see the changes and a heavy emphasis in the emergency preparedness community on incident command and the National Response Framework. -- Stan Edwards, WA4DYD, Georgia Master Certified Emergency Manager <WA4DYD@gmail.com> [For more information on the new National Response Framework, see <http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf/mainindex.htm> -- ed.] + LETTERS: FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee Offers Perspective Many local hams are on the ground shortly after storms and see much more than I do, but as a part time Regional FEMA employee I am called as a guest of the affected state to determine FEMA assessments of damage. I work with a state and local representative, and a Small Business Administration (SBA) official, to give the Governor an estimated dollar value of damage to aid in the decision of whether the President should be asked for a disaster declaration. This is a team effort and we must all agree at the end of the day as to what we saw and report. We are the eyes and ears on the ground and everyone depends on us to give an honest and fair report, which includes talking to the victims and listening to their stories before the media gets there. In performing these assessments, the number of fatalities are also taken into account. When I get a chance, I look for hams on 146.52 MHz simplex or a local repeater. -- Don Wade, W8DEA, FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee + RESOURCES: New EmComm E-Zine Available New "COAX Connections" e-Zine has been created by the Volunteer Communicators Network <http://www.V-C-N.org/>. The goals of this newsletter are to: (1) Provide timely information of interest via e-Mail; (2) Promote a regional approach to training for disasters and volunteer radio operator proficiency; (3) Provoke readers to take action and be active in local volunteer communications opportunities; and (4) Stimulate ideas toward increased disaster preparedness, field deployment readiness, and emergency communications capability. + RESOURCES: Tarrant County (TX) SKYWARN Video is Excellent <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrbXI6_ZL2w> + K1CE For a Final With hurricane season looming, now is the time to drill your local ARES unit. Formulate training around a hurricane situation, and develop a realistic scenario. Many SECs have developed training activities that are specifically designed for your state, section or local area. County Emergency Managers are often well practiced in setting up exercises that can help you sharpen your communications and general emergency reaction skills. During a drill: 1) Announce the simulated emergency situation, activate the emergency net and dispatch mobiles and portables to served agencies. 2) Originate messages and requests for supplies on behalf of served agencies by using tactical communications. (Don't forget to label each message with a "this is a drill only" header, no matter what mode is used to transmit it.) 3) Use emergency-powered repeaters and employ digital modes. Use and test a simplex frequency. 4) As warranted by traffic loads, assign liaison stations to receive traffic on the local net and relay to your section net. Be sure there is a representative on each session of the section nets to receive traffic coming to your area. After a drill: 1) Determine the results of the emergency communications. 2) Critique the drill. 3) Report your efforts, including any photos, clippings and other items of interest, to your SEC and ARRL HQ. Personal Preparation: Here at station K1CE, I have replaced my HF antenna with a rugged Alpha-Delta Multi-Band wire type that is easy to lower and raise as conditions warrant. I also replaced all coax cables, and put up new VHF and UHF beam antennas. I check into the daily HF ARES Net, and the weekly VHF ARES nets at both the county and District levels. I'll be ready. --------- And last but not least, I would like to congratulate emcomm expert, author, and ARES E-Letter contributor H. Ward Silver, N0AX, who has won the Dayton Hamvention's Amateur of the Year Award. Silver, who lives on Vashon Island near Seattle, Washington, worked closely with community leaders and the Vashon-Maury Island Radio Club (W7VMI) to provide effective emergency communications. According to the awards committee, radio club members, along with the fire district and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), have created one of the "best local communications systems in the state of Washington." See you next month! - 73, Rick, K1CE, Assistant SEC, Northern Florida Section ARES Copyright 2008 American Radio Relay League, Inc., All Rights Reserved.