September 16, 2009Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
The View from Flagler County
This month, the ARRL will be among dozens of organizations and agencies taking part in National Preparedness Month. "The Ready Campaign," produced by the Ad Council in partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is aimed at making citizen preparedness "a priority for every city, every neighborhood and every home" in the US. The ARRL encourages you to consider this year's Simulated Emergency Test (see story below) and preparations for it as a demonstration of Amateur Radio's readiness and as an active participant in National Preparedness Month. Here are two key Web sites: http://www.ready.gov/, and http://www.ready.gov/america/npm09/index.html.
In This Issue:
Governor's $250,000 Grant to Amateur Radio Goes Online as Oregon Hams Install New Winlink System
This month, Oregon ARES members will complete the state-wide installation of Winlink, thanks to a $250,000 grant from Governor Ted Kulongoski. In 2007, the governor was impressed by ARES ability to handle emergency communications when severe winter storms wreaked havoc on Oregon's North Coast and flooded the City of Vernonia, knocking out 911 services, Internet and phone service for an extended period of time. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said that during the storms, the radio operators were "tireless in their efforts to keep the systems connected." When even state police had difficulty reaching some of their own troops, ham radio worked, setting up networks so emergency officials could communicate and relaying lists of supplies needed in stricken areas. Full Story - ARRL Web site
GAREC 2009: Tokyo
Officials from the IARU and all three IARU regions, national IARU Member-Societies and specialized Amateur Radio emergency communications groups from around the globe gathered in Tokyo on August 24-25 for the Fifth Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference (GAREC 2009). Hosted by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), GAREC was held in conjunction with Ham Fair. More than 30 participants considered the statements from past GAREC conferences -- GAREC 05 (Tampere, Finland), GAREC 06 (Tampere, Finland), GAREC 07 (Huntsville, Alabama, USA) and GAREC 08 (Friedrichshafen, Germany) -- discussing the progress made on the implementation of the recommendations, and looking at recent experiences from exercises and actual emergency operations. - ARRL
Kentucky Pandemic Flu and Terrorism Exercise
The Kentucky statewide pandemic flu and terrorism exercise conducted August 3-7 was an excellent test of Amateur Radio communications capability across the state using both HF and VHF/UHF frequencies. The Amateur Radio equipment at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center, operating as KY4EOC, was staffed from 8 AM to 8 PM the first four days of the exercise, and until 2 PM on the final day. Kudos went to the many volunteers who worked diligently to keep KY4EOC on the air for 54 hours of operation on a wide variety of frequencies. Preliminary figures from the EOC indicate the operators completed more than 700 contacts with operators in 90 of Kentucky's 120 counties. Participants were asked to submit an After Action Report. The AAR form is available as a MS Word document; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy. - ARRL Kentucky Web site
Alabama Be Ready Day Success
The Alabama Department of Homeland Security, Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency held Alabama Be Ready Day Thursday, September 3, 2009 in Lauderdale County at McFarland Park in Florence.
The Muscle Shoals Amateur Radio Club set up a booth that included amateur radio information and a VHF and HF radio. Alabama Section Manger Jay Isbell, KA4KUN attended the event. Isbell estimated over
1000 people were in attendance and that this was the largest Be Ready Day event where dozens of emergency responders, NWS, American Red Cross, FEMA and ARES showed the Alabama Governor, Alabama DHS Director, participating organizations and the public their capabilities.
Be Ready Day is a day long event featuring emergency responders, many state and local agencies and vendors. The State of Alabama encourages kids and adults to attend. There was activities, games and information on how you can be prepared for any type of disaster.
Mississippi Hurricane Action Plan Effected
The Atlantic Basin is more active as we move up the steep slope to the peak of hurricane season. In Mississippi, the state's Section Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) is being reviewed by regional emcomm amateurs and mutual aid partners. [The Mississippi EOP can be downloaded from the Section Web Site.] Emcomm operators are focusing on Regional Communications, Section 5.4 in the EOP.
Mississippi has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee to effect tactical communications during wide area storm events by activating the Delta ARES Emergency Net on 3890/7275 kHz. Elbert Griffin, Jr., K5BOC, is Net Manager. In addition, Mississippi has an MOU in place with Louisiana and South Texas to provide assistance to the West Gulf ARES Emergency Net (3873/7285 kHz) if the hurricane landfall is along the Louisiana/Texas Coasts.
The Magnolia Section Net, and the Mississippi Section Phone Net have developed a Joint Emergency Operation Procedure (JEOP) such that the frequency 3862 kHz will be monitored during storm events. Their function is to handle primarily health/welfare traffic, but will accommodate message traffic overflow from the tactical net. - Malcolm Keown, W5XX, Mississippi Section Manager
Indiana ARES Responds To Tornado
It seemed like just thunderstorms, but then it happened: A tornado developed and hit Chesterton, Indiana, on August 20. Porter County EC Bernard Gawronski, WA9TSQ, was there directing traffic and ARES units were working together well. Photos can be viewed on the Indiana Section Web site. "Our thanks go out to the hams that responded that night and performed the duties for which they were trained," said Indiana SM John Poindexter, W3ML.
SET October 3-4: Participate!
The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is a nationwide exercise in emergency communications, administered by ARRL Field Organization Leaders including Emergency Coordinators, District Emergency Coordinators, Section Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers. Many other Section Leaders like the Section Manager and the Section Traffic Manager may have a hand in planning the exercises and/or reviewing the results. ARES, National Traffic System (NTS), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and other public-service oriented groups can be involved. The SET weekend gives communicators the opportunity to focus on the emergency-communications capability within your community while interacting with NTS nets. Although the main SET weekend this year is October 3-4, local and section-wide exercises may be held throughout the fall season.
To participate in this year's emergency test, contact your local ARRL emergency coordinator or net manager to find out the details. ARRL Sections, ARES teams and nets may conduct their exercises anytime during September through December. If you don't know who to call, please touch base with your ARRL Section Manager for assistance. See page 16 of QST for contact information or check the ARRL Web page. The URL to start with is http://www.arrl.org/sections/. From there, you'll find links to ARRL section home pages with names and contact information for your Section Leaders including the Section Emergency Coordinator and Section Traffic Manager. Whether you're a new licensee or an experienced radio amateur, the SET is a golden opportunity to learn or practice useful skills in traffic handling, net operation and emergency communications protocols and management.
The purpose of SET is to find out the strengths and weaknesses of ARES, NTS, RACES and other groups in providing emergency communications, and to provide a public demonstration--to served agencies such as the American Red Cross, the emergency management agency and through the news media--of the value to the public that Amateur Radio provides, particularly in time of need. Finally, SET will help radio amateurs gain experience in communications using standard procedures and a variety of modes under simulated-emergency conditions.
One of the first steps on the way to a successful SET is to try to get as many people involved as possible, and especially new hams. In a real emergency, we find amateurs with all sorts of varied interests coming out of the woodwork. Let's get them involved in SET so they will know more about how emergency communications should be handled. Promote SET on nets and repeaters, and sign up new, enthusiastic radio amateurs. Many of those offering to help will be inexperienced in public-service activities. It's up to you to explain what's going on to them, and provide them with useful roles. They may like it so much that they become a permanent fixture in your ARES or NTS group. For a review of last year's nationwide Simulated Emergency Test, read the article in July, 2009, QST.
More information on the ARRL SET here.
Alabama SET: Operation Highball
Alabama's Simulated Emergency Test (SET) will focus on railroad emergencies, Saturday, October 3, starting at 10:00 AM. A series of short training modules are planned for ARES nets this week. Readers can find MP3 files of the training, along with information about railroad communications, and other handouts on the Alabama ARES Web site.
"Operation Highball" operators will coordinate efforts through reports to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency station, KF4LQK. From there, Acting SEC Mike Watkins, WX4AL will be gathering reports from around the state, and passing that information along to served agencies.
Alabama ARES hopes to see other emergency communications groups such as SKYWARN, ALERT, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, SATERN, and the Salvation Army join in, and a special "EMCOMM Group" category has been created to encourage their participation.
Last year, the Alabama Section was ranked fourth in the nation for efforts during the Simulated Emergency Test, and they hope to do even better this year. "All Aboard" for Operation Highball! -- Alabama Section Manager Jay Isbell, KA4KUN
[There was much interest in this item, which appeared in last month's issue. Unfortunately, some links were busted, so the item is being reprinted here with the links fixed. Sorry for the problems. - ed.]
The Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is offering the "All-Hazards Type III Communications Unit Leader (COML) Training and Implementation" course. The OEC supports the ability of emergency responders and government officials to communicate in the event of disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters. It works to ensure interoperable and operable emergency communications nationwide.
COML is a position under the Logistics Section of the Incident Command System (ICS). The course trains emergency responders to be communications unit leaders during all-hazards emergency operations, significantly improving communications across the multiple disciplines and jurisdictions responding to an incident. COML responsibilities include developing plans for the effective use of incident communications equipment and facilities, managing the distribution of communications equipment to incident personnel, and coordinating the installation and testing of communications equipment. For information regarding the COML course or course dates and locations, visit the SAFECOM program Web site.
Many readers have expressed the need for Amateur Radio resource typing to improve our capability to integrate into ICS, and to create uniform standards for personnel and equipment. To quote the NIMS definition: "Resource typing is categorizing, by capability, the resources requested, deployed, and used in incidents. Measurable standards identifying resource capabilities and performance levels serve as the basis for categories. Resource users at all levels use these standards to identify and inventory resources." We have received some suggestions informally over the past few years and would like to formally solicit examples if resource typing has been applied locally in your area. Our goal is to develop uniform typing standards for ARES, and your input will greatly assist us in accomplishing this. Please send this material to email@example.com
Hurricane Bill affected New England and the Canadian Maritimes late last month. To assist the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in tracking the storm, hams with the Hurricane Watch Net and the VoIP Hurricane Net relayed traffic and spotting reports to WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the NHC.
"For the second year in a row -- last year with Hurricane Kyle, and now Hurricane Bill -- the Amateur Radio operators in the Canadian Maritimes proved their skills at supporting the needs of the hurricane centers and in passing information vital to the public's safety," said ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD. "We know that should even more severe tropical events impact that area, the hams will be ready with this increasing experience of late, and we will be ready to support them."
The VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIP Net) activated at 4 AM EDT on Sunday, August 23, wrapping up at 6 PM that evening. "Nova Scotia amateurs relayed a significant number of reports to WX4NHC via the Net," said Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net Rob Macedo, KD1CY. "They described tropical storm force conditions and pockets of wind damage, including a few coastal road washouts from storm surge but the region was spared hurricane force winds."
RAC Vice President of Field Services Doug Mercer, VO1DTM, told the ARRL that he, Newfoundland Section Emergency Coordinator Rendyl Godwin, VO1RYL, and four District Emergency Coordinators were "actively passing traffic hourly to the Hurricane Watch Net since 1200 UTC [Sunday]."
Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Dave Lefavour, W7GOX, told the ARRL that they received an activation request from WX4NHC, their first activation of the 2009 hurricane season: "We opened the Net at 8 AM EDT on Sunday, August 23 on 14.325 MHz, and operated continuously until 7 PM. We had a successful spring recruiting campaign that brought several new members to the Net, and Hurricane Bill allowed us to introduce them to our Net protocols. It's one thing to read about how we do things, but there is no substitute for experience. Conditions on 20 meters were difficult, but with the additional members added to our roster, we were able to maintain communications with our Canadian reporting stations."
WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, thanked the hams who supported the operation: "I would like to echo my thanks to everyone for making the effort to support our friends in Canada during Hurricane Bill. It was truly an international effort with Net Controls from many parts of the US and as far away as Germany.
"Bill opened the 2009 hurricane season for us," HWN's Lefavour said. "We hope that we are not needed for the rest of the year, but the peak of the hurricane season is yet to come. We're ready." - excerpted from The ARRL Letter
EmComm East, Rochester, New York: October 3, 2009
EmComm East is an ARRL-sanctioned Amateur Radio emergency communications conference, where Amateur Radio operators involved in emcomm can attend training sessions on technical topics, learn from served agencies, obtain VE testing for license upgrades, and interact with other emcomm operators from all over the area.
EmComm West 2010, Reno, Nevada: April 30-May 2, 2010
The 2010 edition of EMCOMMWEST will be held the first weekend in May 2010, starting on Friday, April 30, and running through Sunday, May 2, in Reno, Nevada. EMCOMMWEST 2010 news can be found here. If you are interested in presenting at this upcoming event, please go to the Web site and send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
11th Annual Wisconsin ARES/RACES Conference: Oct 31-Nov 1, 2009
The conference will be held Saturday, October 31, and Sunday, November 1, 2009, at the Hotel Mead and Conference Center, Wisconsin Rapids. Talk-in - 146.790 MHz - PL114.8. This year's conference is intended for everyone interested in ARES/RACES, including EMs, NWS and other emergency/disaster response personnel. Lunch/brunch and refreshments will be provided both days. Saturday is the general conference and Sunday is designed for leadership personnel. The Conference will be ghoulishly good this year, not only because it is taking place on All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day, but we will take advantage of the allegedly haunted past of the Hotel Mead and are working to arrange an exercise/public service event built around Wisconsin Rapids' Trick or Treating. -- Wisconsin ARES/RACES
Blizzard of '78 Veterans: Stories Solicited
Where were you during the Blizzard of '78? Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) wants to know, particularly if you have home movies and photographs. Do you have images of yourself operating during the emergency? Do you have a story about ham radio's role during the blizzard? This is one time when you are encouraged to tell your story of a role you played during this storm. To share your story and submit your photographs or video, contact CPTV at 860-275-7253 or by email at email@example.com. -- Mary Hobart, K1MMH, ARRL Development Officer
Arizona SEC on Event Comms (EvComms)
For the southern part of Arizona, the event season is spooling up as the heat ships out. Public Service events give operators an opportunity to hone skills used in actual emergencies. Yes, they are scheduled. Yes, you can prepare in advance. Yes, Event Coordinators get to make assignments in advance, but five minutes after the event starts, it's a whole new ball game.
It's not about the radio; it's about knowing capabilities, coverage areas, developing people and technical skills to manage any disaster. In Florida, the landscape is redefined by high winds every four or five years and everyone from Emergency Management to the ham population use every opportunity to review, train and respond to emergencies. In Arizona, flooding is our biggest concern, and the floods are largely short lived. That is not to say they can't be devastating but it's not like rebuilding entire cities like they periodically do in the Gulf states. To be prepared, we have to use any opportunity to prepare, and public service events are a great way to discover what ham radio can do for the community. -- Rick Aldom, W7STS, Arizona Section Emergency Coordinator
More Break Tags
When net communication gets heavy, someone may have a quick solution to a problem that is taking up too much valuable airtime for discussion, but can't break into the net to share it. The use of "Break Tags" is the way to deal with such a scenario. We added three more break tags to the list that we find useful. It not only allows us to use break tags during emergencies and such, but the added three tags on the bottom really helped us with net efficiency. I posted the tags on our Web site. -- E. Jonathan Hardy, KB1KIX, District Emergency Coordinator - Region 3, Connecticut Section
Resources: ARES Resource Manual Available On-Line
The ARES Field Resources Manual is a quick, brief easy-to-read-in-the-field resource booklet for ARES ops. Bookmark the link for quick access: ARRL ARES Field Resources Manual
K1CE For A Final
On a personal note, I want to thank all of you wrote with sympathy concerning the loss to lightning of my entire station, including an ICOM IC-756PROIII, ICOM IC-2200H 2-meter FM mobile rig, and vintage Collins KWM-2 recently. Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. So that readers can perhaps learn from the hard lesson I learned, take a look at some excellent lightning resources from the ARRL. If you are in an active ARES and/or SKYWARN area, chances are your station is at risk as well. Check out the ARRL's resources, and have a good ham radio insurance policy, like the League's offering.
Don't forget to support HR 2160 -- The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009 -- the ARRL is asking its membership to contact their members of the US House of Representatives with a request to become co-sponsors of this significant piece of legislation.
See you next month! 73, Rick Palm, K1CE