ARES E-Letter for October 17, 2008
The ARES E-Letter October 15, 2008 ================= Rick Palm, K1CE, Editor <http://www.qrz.com/database?callsign=K1CE>, =================================== ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: <email@example.com>;; =================================== + The View from Flagler County Although we are in an apparent lull in tropical severe weather activity, we have endured some ripping thunderstorms here lately. Florida is Number One in the nation for victims of lightning strikes. Thus, our local SKYWARN program, with Robbie Creal, KG4HUF, at the helm, has been very active recently. (Creal is also Assistant Emergency Coordinator for our Flagler County ARES group, and Assistant District Emergency Coordinator for the East Central District in Northern Florida). Our SKYWARN program and its training protocol have been well-supported by the Flagler EOC. Check out the item in this issue on SKYWARN Recognition Day, to be held on December 6. You do not want to miss it! ____ If you haven't looked at the independent study programs of FEMA's Emergency Management Institute lately, do yourself a favor and click on: <http://training.fema.gov/IS/> Many new courses have been added, and a few of the classic original courses have been revised. Some of the newer courses that struck me as significant for ARES members include: IS-102 Deployment Basics for FEMA Response Partners (New 9/9/2008) IS-802 Emergency Support Functions (ESF) #2 - Communications (New 8/6/2008) IS-775 EOC Management and Operations (New 8/6/2008) IS-100.a Introduction to Incident Command System (Revised 7/28/2008) IS-200.a ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (Revised 7/28/2008) IS-809 Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9 - Search and Rescue (5/21/2008) IS-808 Emergency Support Function (ESF) #8 - Public Health and Medical Services (4/11/2008) IS-800.B National Response Framework, An Introduction (2/4/2008) FEMA's Independent Study Program offers courses that support the nine mission areas identified by the National Preparedness Goal: Incident Management, Operational Planning, Disaster Logistics, Emergency Communications, Service to Disaster Victims, Continuity Programs, Public Disaster Communications, Integrated Preparedness, and Hazard Mitigation. Education in all of these should be ARES training goals. Here is what Dennis Dura, K2DCD, ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager, recently told the nation's Section Managers in re the ESF#2 Communications course: "Many of you may already be aware of this course (IS-802), or have taken it. It is a relatively new FEMA on-line independent study course that presents the concepts of Emergency Support Function #2-Communications. For those that have heard my presentations around the country, I strongly encourage integrating ARES in the local, county, regional or state government emergency operations plans, of which ESF #2 is a part. This presents us a variety of mission options, not beholding to any one specific group, and we become more aligned with the emergency management structure. The course will take approximately 30 minutes to complete." _______ In This Issue: + The View from Flagler County + Cedar Rapids Flood Response + Harrison County, Indiana ARES Activates For Historic Windstorm + ARES OK at 2008 Oklahoma Emergency Management Association Conference + SKYWARN Recognition Day Celebrates Ten Years! + Hospital Standards for EmComms Include Amateur Radio + LETTERS: RE: Coaxial Antenna for EmComm + LETTERS: Clear Audio for HDTV/EmComms? + LETTERS: Resource "Typing" + International Humanitarian Award Nominations Sought + K1CE For A Final _______ + Cedar Rapids Flood Response During the week of June 10, 2008, Cedar Rapids and the small town of Palo, Iowa suffered the results of a 500-year flood of the Cedar River. The previous record of 20.00 feet was set in 1851 and 1929. The flood peaked out at 31.12 feet on June 13, far over existing levees. 24,000 people had to be evacuated, including the central downtown business district. Linn County ARES responded. River Monitoring and Road Closures: One of the first duties was to set up monitoring stations up river. The closest official river gauge was about 30 miles away, and had to be read manually. ARES ops set up two monitoring points between Cedar Rapids and Vinton. One was limited by terrain to only measuring if the river was rising or falling. The monitoring station closer to Cedar Rapids was a tree marked with tape. This allowed true measurements to be made, though a second tree had to be established when the flooding exceeded the marking on the original tree. The two trees were cleverly correlated by using a laser level. Reports were radioed to the EOC every half-hour early in the flood, then every hour. At the same time, other ARES stations were monitoring roads as they began to be covered with water. At the peak of the flood, all downtown bridges were under water. The bridge crossings in the county typically had flooding of the bridge approaches. The only dry bridge from one side of the county to the other was the elevated I-380 bridge. Hospital Backup: We recently completed antenna upgrades at our two local hospitals. Amateurs set up VHF stations at both hospitals in case of need. One of the hospitals was eventually evacuated, with patients sent to other area hospitals. Cedar Rapids Police Department: The CRPD also requested Amateur Radio as backup. They had to evacuate their downtown offices and set up at the Ice Arena. The CRPD building also held the controller for the city's 800 MHz trunked communication system for Police, Fire, and many city services. The system operated in fail-safe mode for several days until full control was restored. Evacuation Shelters: During the early stages of the flooding, a Red Cross evacuation shelter was set up at the Roosevelt Middle school. This shelter was quickly closed, as it was determined that raising estimates of river levels would possibly impact the availability of power in the Roosevelt area. Two new shelters were opened at Viola Gibson Elementary School and Prairie High School. Amateurs provided technical and operations support to the week-long, 24 hour efforts at these shelters. At the Prairie High School evacuation center, Amateur Radio was there for backup communications. Amateur Radio was used occasionally for logistical support of shelter operations. In the Viola Gibson Elementary School Evacuation Center, there were approximately 200 evacuees for the entire week during which our radio desk was active. We passed traffic, especially since landlines were inoperable at the school and cell phone coverage from within the building was intermittent or unavailable through several providers. When the flooding impacted the downtown school district offices, all Internet capability in the district, including telephones, were lost. We also provided communications support for the Viola Elementary School Administrative Staff and the school Principal who were helping to coordinate logistic support for evacuees on site as well as relief efforts in the Palo area. Our communications desk was well equipped, staffed and maintained. We had dual-band UHF/VHF and independently fed antennas installed both inside and outside the building and were able to quickly shift over to the indoor antennas when inclement weather struck during the week. We provided simultaneous operation of two independent portable VHF stations (one for simplex use and one for general net use) as well as a UHF unit, which was used to coordinate local ham support efforts for the Viola Gibson site. A rechargeable battery back-up power supply was on site for the duration of the Net, but it did not have to be put into use. During the busier day/early evening period, we usually had at least two people working the desk on a scheduled basis. The Viola Gibson site also assumed Net Control duties for several days during the week-long support efforts. These operators staffed the radio desk, provided hardware/technical support, and/or assisted in station set-up and maintenance using both scheduled and ad hoc approaches. HF Backup: The HF link to the Iowa EOC in Des Moines was a backup for normal communications in case telephone service was lost at the Linn County EOC. The only traffic passed was related to the operation of the HF link between Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. The Des Moines EOC (KC0EEC) and Linn County HF stations performed a radio check about every 30 minutes to maintain the 3990.5 kHz frequency. The Linn County HF stations, in turn, maintained local contact with the Linn County EOC via VHF repeater. Severe Weather: Throughout the flooding, we had severe storms to deal with. Our county normally runs a severe weather spotter network. The spotter information is then sent to the National Weather Service via the Emergency Management EOC. During storm watch, our primary repeater supported it. Communications backup for the shelters was moved to one of the secondary repeaters. Over the period of the major flooding June 10 to June 15, we had four Severe Thunderstorm Watches, one Tornado Watch, and seven Severe Thunderstorm Warnings affecting Linn County. The main threat was high winds and large hail, which posed a particular threat to police, fire, public service employees, and people trying to evacuate. Summary: Amateur Radio became involved with river level monitoring on June 9. Amateur Radio net(s) were formally activated June 12. The net ran continuously until June 18. The total time that we had a formal net active was 147 hours. Our logs show that at least 86 Amateur Radio stations participated at some point. A special thanks to our net controls: N0GUD, WA6GFD, K0ECW, W0MRZ, WA0KHH, NA0IA, N0UUS and KC0UMS. -- Ron Breitwisch, KC0OX, DEC, Iowa District 6 West <firstname.lastname@example.org> + Harrison County, Indiana ARES Activates For Historic Windstorm Harrison County, Indiana ARES activated on Sunday, September 14, following the historic windstorm that swept across Indiana and other states. The hardest hit area was southern Indiana. The SKYWARN net was emergently transferred to an ARES net. The storm's incredible high winds closed roads, snapped and uprooted many large trees, snapped or knocked down power poles, downed power and telephone lines, knocked trees onto houses, tore off roofs, destroyed barns and some homes, knocked out telephone services and cell phones, and caused fatalities. Power would be out in some areas for more than a week. Most had no power, no phone service, and there were water shortages. ARES was placed under a declared State of Emergency, with the communication emergency. The EMA director requested storm damage reports. Harrison County ARES was activated, and handled Emergency, Priority, Routine, and Welfare traffic. Reports of downed power lines, trees on houses, trees blocking roads were passed, and ARES assisted with relief efforts. ARES made calls to police dispatch on behalf of EMA personnel. The entire ARES operation was held on emergency power, including the event repeater. Major Lesson Learned: Have a way to operate for days (not just hours) on emergency power! The ARES Emergency Net ran for 34 hours of airtime (parts of 4 days), with 31 check-ins, 268.1 man-hours, and one formal message. -- David McKim, KB9JLF, EC South Central Indiana SKYWARN and Net Manager, Harrison County, Indiana + ARES OK at 2008 Oklahoma Emergency Management Association Conference Amateur Radio Emergency Service Oklahoma (ARES-OK) members participated in the 2008 Oklahoma Emergency Management Association conference. The conference was held during the second week of October, at the Reed Convention Center in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Many of the emergency managers present were interested in using Amateur Radio as part of their backup communications systems. The EMs were also interested in knowing what training ARES volunteers were given, and in this post 9/11 world, what types of ID systems and background checks were in place to verify ARES volunteers. They were provided with the state plan for ARES-Oklahoma, along with general ARES information. A working 20 meter HF station running on battery power consisting of a Kenwood TS-430, a Buddipole portable antenna, and a 27Ah AGM battery in a small tool bag was demonstrated. A VHF/UHF station in a backpack using a Kenwood TS-8800 and 7Ah gel cell battery was also set-up. Both radios and the antenna attracted much attention and started interesting conversations with Emergency Management personnel from all over Oklahoma and surrounding states. Of note was the high percentage of emergency managers and staff that were either hams, or were working on getting their license. A special thank you to J.C. Nocker, K5JCN, Mike Delaney, WB5HXT, and Oscar Staudt, WB5GCX, for manning the booth for ARES-OK. -- Mark Conklin N7XYO, Mounds, Oklahoma + SKYWARN Recognition Day Celebrates Ten Years! The 10th annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) special event will take place Saturday, December 6, 2008. SRD is co-sponsored by the National Weather Service and the ARRL. SKYWARN Recognition Day is a way to recognize the commitment made by Amateur Radio operators in helping keep their communities safe. During the 24-hour special event, Amateur Radio operators visit their local National Weather Service (NWS) office and work as a team to contact other hams across the world. The original SRD concept took shape in the summer of 1999. Scott Mentzer, N0QE, Meteorologist-In-Charge of the NWS office in Goodland, Kansas was trying to think of a way to let storm spotters know how valuable their reports were to the National Weather Service. Since many of those storm spotters were also hams, it seemed like a natural fit for the recognition to be centered on Amateur Radio. Mentzer worked with Rick Palm, K1CE, of ARRL Headquarters, to formulate a plan. With the approval of NWS headquarters and a commitment to participate from many local NWS offices, the first "National Weather Service Special Event" took place on November 27, 1999. At the end of the event, an amazing 15,888 QSOs were logged, with contacts made to all 50 states and 63 countries. The Des Moines forecast office took the honor of making the most contacts of any office that first year with 761 QSOs (and went on to lead the pack through 2003 by logging between 1300 and 1500 contacts each year). Feedback from the first event was overwhelmingly positive from both the NWS staff and the local ham clubs. Suddenly there was incentive for more NWS staffers to either obtain a license or upgrade so that more people could work ham radio during severe events. In addition, many club members had never visited an NWS office, and they learned the value of their reports and how they were used in conjunction with existing technology. And so began an annual tradition. The following year 85 of the 122 NWS offices participated in the event, making nearly 24,000 QSOs. Perhaps the most unusual one in 2000 was with an airliner 39,000 ft above Utah. The pilot ended the QSO with a request for a "spot weather forecast" for his arrival at Salt Lake City airport. In 2001, the name of the event was changed to SKYWARN Recognition Day, which seemed to better relate what the day was all about. Each year since the inception of SRD, the number of NWS offices and local ham clubs participating has increased, until now over 100 offices sign up each year to take part. The most contacts made during any SRD occurred in 2006 when, thanks to the staff and local hams in the Grand Junction area, 1640 QSOs were logged! Station call signs have also changed over the years. Some offices and clubs apply for a special event call sign such as W3B in Brownsville or N0Y in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Other call signs hint at office location, including WX9GRB in Green Bay and WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center. Still others represent more of the big picture, as in KC0SKY in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. Another change in recent years has been a greater use of digital communications in addition to CW, RTTY and packet radio. Each year more and more contacts are being made using Echolink, Winlink and the use of Reflectors. 2008 SKYWARN Recognition Day will be held from 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC December 6th. Last year contacts were made in all 50 states and 40 countries during the 24 hour event. If you haven't joined in the fun, 2008 is your year! To learn more, check out our Web site: <http://hamradio.noaa.gov/>. -- David Floyd, N5DBZ, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NWS Goodland, Kansas, <email@example.com> + Hospital Standards for EmComms Include Amateur Radio For readers who are working with, or are contemplating a working relationship with the hospitals in your Section, hospital planning/standards documents by their accreditation organization will be of some value. All hospitals must be certified by The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The documents may be downloaded directly from <http://www.jointcommission.org/Standards/SII/sii_hap.htm> For example, see JCAHO Standard EM.02.02.01: "The [organization] maintains reliable communications capabilities for the purpose of communicating response efforts to staff, [patient]s, and external organizations. The [organization] establishes backup communications processes and technologies (for example, cell phones, landlines, bulletin boards, fax machines, satellite phones, Amateur Radio, text messages) to communicate essential information if primary communications systems fail." -- Dennis C. Dura, K2DCD, Manager, Emergency Preparedness and Response, ARRL + LETTERS: RE: Coaxial Antenna for EmComm In re last month's item on a coaxial antenna by Jay Musikar, AF2C, another means of supporting a coaxial antenna is to slip it inside a piece of PVC piping. A closed "eye hook" can be screwed into the inside of a PVC pipe cap and the top end of the coaxial dipole attached to it. The pipe cap is then slipped over the end of the PVC pipe. The remaining coax comes out the bottom of the PVC pipe. This provides the means to vertically support the coaxial dipole when there is nothing to hang it from. (There are many other methods of attaching the dipole inside the PVC). For VHF and UHF coaxial dipoles, I strip off the outer insulation a little longer than the desired operating or center frequency and turn the braided shielding inside out or back over itself (like turning a sock inside out), creating a braided covering of the outer jacket the same length as the exposed center conductor. The center conductor can then be trimmed to the proper length, allowing for a small loop at the top for hanging. The shield is trimmed to the same length and taped at the end to hold it in place on the outer jacket of the coax. While in the military I made coaxial dipoles for 30-80 MHz (the military low band) and 138-174 MHz many times and sealed them inside PVC pipes. The pipe cap sealed the top end and I used silicone sealant at the bottom end for waterproofing. These often worked better than the standard military field antennas. One antenna I installed on a security tower at a nuclear storage site as a temporary fixture was actually in use four years later. Each time the comm professionals came out to check the system, they found the antenna looking and working so well they thought it was commercially manufactured! -- Tim Hardy, AF1G, Kathleen, Georgia + LETTERS: Clear Audio for HDTV/EmComms? I've been trying to track down whether there will be an "in the clear" audio carrier available after the switchover from analog TV next February. It doesn't look like it since encoded audio is the standard <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hdtv>. Not being able to listen to the TV stations will have an impact on emcomm teams, since local broadcasts are a prime source of information. For example, all of our VHF/UHF handhelds are programmed with the FM audio carrier frequencies for the major local TV stations. I suggest that we publish a reminder to the teams that they should add some portable HDTV-compatible receivers to their kits. -- Ward Silver, N0AX, Asst EC for Vashon-Maury Island ARES, Washington In Wilmington, North Carolina, our market went 100% digital on September 8 as the FCC's national beta test site for the analog-to-digital conversion. Channel 6, WECT-TV, had its audio channel at 87.7 MHz FM, and until this past spring promoted its capability to be heard on FM radio. WECT's general manager and news director each told me that the FCC said all FM audio was being eliminated as well as the analog video signal. Now that I live in a 100% digital market, I concur that a portable battery powered DTV (not necessarily HDTV) with open air reception capability be made part of an emcomm plan. With the national cutover coming in four months, I predict there will be a much wider selection of portable, battery powered DTVs by the spring or summer of 2009. National retailers like Radio Shack, Circuit City, Best Buy and Wal-Mart were all in attendance at FCC digital-to-analog meetings in Wilmington this past spring to discuss the availability of portable, battery powered DTVs, and they predicted an increase in supply and a drop in price as more models become available. As for portable battery-powered HDTV, that may be a stretch for the first phase of introduction. All of the talk here focused on standard resolution DTV in Phase 1 for portable equipment. Since Wilmington is along the coast, I'm not sure we're ready for a hurricane in HDTV. -- Bill Morine, N2COP, Wilmington, North Carolina, ARRL North Carolina Public Information Coordinator (PIC); Chairman, ARRL National Public Relations Committee + LETTERS: Resource "Typing" A year ago I sent you information on Resource Typing we use in the North Central Texas area, which you commented on in one of your issues. After that letter went out, I received numerous inquiries and requests for information. A number of groups have put our guide to use. As you remember, the Guide used the term "Type" followed by a letter designating that particular function. We have revised the guide to be more in line with NIMS resource typing definitions. In the NIMS documentation the term "Type" refers to the level of capability with a Type I being more capable than a Type II and so on of a function or resource. The term "Communications Resource Function" and referred to as CRF has replaced the term "Type." The definition of each function has not changed from the previous version, just the titling change. In addition D-Star has been included. Definitions of Event/Incident durations have also been added. I have also created a check sheet to help communicators in determining their Function based on their equipment. I invite readers to page through our Web site at <http://www.garlandraces.net/> and let us know what you think. We are a dual hat unit that promotes both RACES and ARES through our training. Feedback and comments always welcome. -- John Galvin, N5TIM, RACES RO and ARES AEC <http://www.qsl.net/n5tim> and <http://www.garlandraces.net/> + International Humanitarian Award Nominations Sought Nominations are open for the 2008 ARRL International Humanitarian Award <http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/awards/humanitarian.html>. The award is conferred upon an amateur or amateurs who demonstrate devotion to human welfare, peace and international understanding through Amateur Radio. The League established the annual prize to recognize Amateur Radio operators who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to others in times of crisis or disaster. A committee appointed by the League's President recommends the award recipient(s) to the ARRL Board, which makes the final decision. The committee is now accepting nominations from Amateur Radio, governmental or other organizations that have benefited from extraordinary service rendered by an Amateur Radio operator or group. Amateur Radio is one of the few telecommunication services that allow people throughout the world from all walks of life to meet and talk with each other, thereby spreading goodwill across political boundaries. The ARRL International Humanitarian Award recognizes Amateur Radio's unique role in international communication and the assistance amateurs regularly provide to people in need. Nominations should include a summary of the nominee's actions that qualify the individual (or individuals) for this award, plus verifying statements from at least two people having first-hand knowledge of the events warranting the nomination. These statements may be from an official of a group (for example, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army or a local or state emergency management official) that benefited from the nominee's particular Amateur Radio contribution. Nominations should include the names and addresses of all references. All nominations and supporting materials for the 2008 ARRL International Humanitarian Award must be submitted in writing in English to ARRL International Humanitarian Award, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 USA. Nomination submissions are due by December 31, 2008. In the event that no nominations are received, the committee itself may determine a recipient or decide to make no award. The winner of the ARRL International Humanitarian Award receives an engraved plaque and a profile in QST and other ARRL venues. + K1CE For A Final We trust you had (or are going to have) a good SET this year. Here's a fine note I received this week from the Director of the Southeastern Division that rings true for the entire country: "I am happy to see the participation and dedication in the 2008 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test exercise throughout the Southeastern Division! The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is another way Amateur Radio operators show our dedication to public service via emergency communications. Many amateurs operated from served agencies offices including State and local Emergency Operation Centers, showing off our capabilities to served agency personnel. "Operating in the served agency centers helps to build trust and relationships with our counterparts. We learn and improve, test our equipment and procedures, show our professional side and have some fun. "ARRL Section Emergency Coordinators, District Emergency Coordinators and Emergency Coordinators did a fantastic job planning and coordinating this exercise! Thank you for supporting this exercise!" -- 73, Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, Director, ARRL Southeastern Division See you next month! 73, Rick, K1CE Copyright American Radio Relay League, Inc., All Rights Reserved.