November 18, 2009Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
The View from Flagler County
Within days, the almost non-existent 2009 hurricane season will draw to a close. It was the quietest season I can remember. We did get a shot across the bow from storm Ida, which turned out be mainly a non-event; although as this is written, remnants are pounding the mid-Atlantic region.
According to a report forwarded by Northern Florida SEC Joe Bushel, W2DWR, Section Manager Paul Eakin, KJ4G, monitored the progress of Ida and called contacts in Tallahassee for information and coordination. He alerted section officials to be ready to handle storm traffic. Mutual assistance plans with neighboring sections were trotted out to effect regional coordination and requests for assistance with Florida state EOC officials. Communication with ARRL HQ was started as well.
The National Weather Service station at Tallahassee was in operation with amateurs taking observations over the air via HF, and Echolink via its UHF repeater. The staff was in the process of running a portable D-STAR radio. Working with John Davis, WB4QDX, in Atlanta, the Southeast WX Net on a D-STAR reflector was ready to serve Georgia, Alabama and Florida along with any other areas of need.
Northern Florida Section net managers set up a list of net control stations for round-the-clock monitoring of emergency frequency 3950 kHz for potential traffic. The net would also mean having an HF station listening for any amateur anywhere who called for assistance to get a reply and help if needed. They had 22 assigned amateurs who shared various shifts. Some 45 amateurs checked in from around the east coast of the US.
Two northern Florida county EOCs were manned 24/7 with ARES ops on the radios. The state EOC-ESF2 staff had called for two amateurs to report to a shelter and the EOC of Walton county. A quick check into the Northern Florida Data Base of operators quickly provided the contact information and within minutes, a duplication request was averted as the Walton county EC was on the scene and provided the personnel for the assignment. The new database proved invaluable on its first test.
Eakin was proud of the approximately 50 amateurs from the Northern Florida Section responding. The West Central Florida, Alabama, and Georgia Sections also displayed the true amateur spirit and dug in. Information from the West Panhandle DEC and his ECs kept both Bushel and Eakin completely informed. Eakin concluded: "The amateurs did a great job.This event brought out good teamwork and training paid off." For a more comprehensive report, see the ARRL Web story here.
In This Issue:
Georgia Receives $165,000 To Supplement D-STAR Network
Federal funding has been secured by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to complete a statewide D-STAR emergency communications network. The network's creation was started by Mark Fehlig, WA6NGC, the former Director of Engineering for the state's Public Broadcasting System. When the opportunity arose to install two Amateur Radio antennas on each of nine television towers providing statewide coverage, Fehlig jumped into action and designated Georgia ARES to control the use of those sites for emergency communications.
The next task was to pick the best technology to use. FM repeaters and packet were among the modes considered, but the emerging Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio (D-STAR) was chosen. The state of the art technology provides simultaneous voice and data communications. D-STAR allows repeaters to be linked on a flexible basis and permits simultaneous voice and low speed data along with high speed Internet connectivity at 1.2 GHz.
This grant will help ARES provide better service to its partners, enhance Amateur Radio technology, and add to the tremendous coverage of digital Amateur Radio in the Southeastern Division. See the Georgia ARES Web site for more information.
John Davis, WB4QDX, was appointed as District Emergency Coordinator in charge of the network. Davis said "After considering several technology options and modes for creating a statewide Amateur Radio network, the D-STAR technology made the most sense." Further, "the funding also provides 20 dual-band D-STAR radios for installation at EMA offices around the state, a portable UHF D-STAR repeater for emergency deployment, three 1.2 GHz D-STAR radios with laptops for sending data and photos from field locations and a robust reflector to serve the Georgia network during emergency conditions and available for general use during non-emergency times."
The complete Georgia D-STAR network should be in operation by early 2010. Davis said "the Georgia network will complement other D-STAR systems planned or in operation in neighboring states of Alabama, Florida and South Carolina, creating regional capabilities in the southeast. Weather systems approach Georgia either as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes from the west or tropical systems from the Gulf or the Atlantic. Having flexible statewide communications will provide new capabilities to support emergency communications." - Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, ARRL Southeastern Division Director, and John Davis, WB4QDX, District Emergency Coordinator, Georgia ARES
National Weather Service/ARRL SKYWARN Recognition Day: December 5
The 11th annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) will take place this year on Saturday, December 5. Radio amateurs will operate from many National Weather Service (NWS) offices around the United States.The purpose of the event is to recognize Amateur Radio operators for the vital public service they perform during times of severe weather and to strengthen the bond between radio amateurs and their local National Weather Service office. The event is co-sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and the National Weather Service.
Traditionally, hams have assisted the National Weather Service during times of severe weather by providing real-time reports of severe events and storm evolution. The assistance that radio amateurs provide to the NWS throughout the year is invaluable.
SKYWARN Recognition Day this year will be held from 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC on Saturday, December 5, 2009. (That means the event officially begins on Friday evening in the United States). To learn more, check the NOAA Web site. -- Steve Ewald, WV1X, Supervisor, Field Organization Team
GAREC 2010 Slated for Curacao
The Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference (GAREC) will return to Region 2 next year in Curacao, October 11-12. The theme of the conference will be "Learning through practicing." Details will be announced as they become available.
The GAREC mission is to help Amateur Radio operators to be better prepared for emergency communications and create exercises at both the national and international levels. GAREC exists to foster the exchange of information and experiences among all Amateur Radio operators and groups that are interested in emcomms. Their vision is to have regular world wide cooperation and understanding between governments and the Amateur Radio Service in the field of emcomms. -- Seppo Sisatto, Ph.D, OH1VR, Tampere, Finland
ARRL Officials Attend Emergency Managers Confab
The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) 2009 Annual Conference was held earlier this month in Orlando, Florida. ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD and Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK represented the League. During the event, Dura and Sarratt networked with emergency management staff from around the United States giving Amateur Radio exposure in the superb five-day conference. The results of this interaction were a clear invitation by all that Amateur Radio needs to maintain its status as a significant contributor to the readiness and response capabilities of this country.
The IAEM Conference and EXPO promoted current trends and topics, information about the latest tools and technology in emergency management, homeland security and overall preparedness. Sessions included stakeholders at all levels of government, the private sector, public health and related professions that exchanged ideas and information on collaborating to protect lives and property from disaster. This year's conference attendance was a record breaking 2043 attendees, including emergency managers, homeland security officials, first responders, NGO's, military, private industry and Amateur Radio.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was the Keynote Speaker. Mr. Fugate was previously the Director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management. He talked about the need to build teams, relationships and partnerships with all sectors of volunteer or unpaid professionals in all phases of emergency management.
Not surprisingly, many emergency management staff are Amateur Radio licensees--something that comes forth clearly in the many discussions that were had. Dura and Sarratt had discussions with IAEM leadership on pending legislation and regulatory issues. Outgoing President Russell Decker, in one of his last official acts on behalf of the IAEM-USA Board came forth with written support of Amateur Radio with Senate Bill 1755 and House of Representatives Bill HR-2160. This effort was spearheaded within the IAEM by Past President Larry Gispert, KR4X. Additionally, IAEM leadership expressed the strong desire that Amateur Radio and the ARRL participate more actively in IAEM around the country and at future annual conferences through training classes, workshop sessions and informational exhibits. -- Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, ARRL Southeastern Division Director
H1N1 Flu Guide Available
The Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has announced a new resource for community and faith-based organizations: H1N1 Flu: A Guide for Community & Faith-based Organizations.
Community and faith-based organizations are essential partners in comprehensive state and local flu response, and this guide was created to support them this flu season. The guide provides specific action steps that community and faith-based organizations can take to help keep communities healthy during flu season, including:
* Communicating important information about flu.
* Supporting vaccination efforts
* Linking vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations to vital information and resources
Visit http://flu.gov/professional/community/ to download the guide. - Dennis Dura, K2DCD, ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager
2009 Kentucky Disaster Institute Courses of Interest to ARES
The American Red Cross Louisville (Kentucky) Area Chapter Disaster Services is currently presenting the 2009 Kentucky Disaster Institute, November 16- 21. This year it is being held in a new location: Campbellsville University (Louisville Campus). The Institute is bigger and better than ever, with 40 Disaster Services courses in six days, including several new courses.
Disaster Training courses are offered free of charge to registered Red Cross disaster volunteers only through many Regional Red Cross offices throughout the country. For information on registering for a disaster class, please contact your local chapter. To find your local Red Cross Chapter, click here.
A few of the more relevant courses for ARES operators include:
* Disaster Assessment Basics
The purpose of this course is to provide a general overview of the tasks performed by Red Cross Disaster Assessment workers in support of a disaster relief operation and a local incident such as a single or multi-family fire. This course is not a replacement for the "Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment" course, which is still the required course for members who wish to participate in the Disaster Assessment activity on a disaster relief operation.
* Disaster Mental Health: An Overview
Introduces participants to the roles, responsibilities and benefits of the Disaster Mental Health activity within the Individual Client Services group. Participants will learn how Disaster Mental Health supports both the disaster relief operations workers and clients within the disaster affected community.
* Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command Liaison
Because the consequences of the Red Cross' ability to manage relationships with the government, emergency management, and its partners can have significant and high profile ramifications, government and emergency management assignment settings require knowledgeable disaster workers, who can understand the inner workings of both government and Red Cross disaster response. The course will prepare participants who will be assigned to government and emergency settings to work collaboratively with Red Cross partners, helping to ensure a coordinated response that results in effective service delivery.
* ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll
Prepares course participants to operate an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and its equipment safely and effectively to meet feeding and other service needs of people affected by disaster.
* Foundations of Disaster Mental Health
This course prepares Licensed Mental Health Professionals to provide for and respond to the psychological needs of people across the continuum of disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
* Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment
The purpose of this course is to introduce the critical role of Disaster Assessment, explore related preparedness tasks, learn how to collect and communicate disaster assessment information, and become familiar with how disaster assessment information supports management and service delivery decisions.
* Mass Care Overview
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the activities performed by the Mass Care group in support of a disaster relief operation.
* Mass Casualty Disasters
The purpose of this course is to prepare Red Cross volunteers and employees to provide a more effective initial response to a mass casualty disaster.
* Psychological First Aid
The purpose of this course is to prepare all American Red Cross workers to provide basic care, comfort and support to people who are experiencing disaster-related stress. This course provides a framework for understanding the factors that affect stress responses in disaster relief workers and the clients they serve.
* Shelter Operations
The purpose of this training is to prepare volunteers and employees of the Red Cross and other agencies to effectively and sensitively manage shelter operations as a team while meeting the needs of people displaced as a result of a disaster.
* Shelter Simulation
The purpose of this training is to provide participants with an opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills and abilities required to operate a successful shelter.
* Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism: An Overview
This course is designed to create awareness and provide basic information about the issues and safety concerns related to responding to a disaster incident in an environment involving Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism (WMD/T).
As mentioned earlier, the above courses and others are available through your local Red Cross Chapters and also through the American Red Cross Learning Management System on-line. They are pertinent to ARES operators' emergency communications and disaster relief interests, not only in connection with Red Cross operations, but in general. Check them out. -- Thanks to Robert Bauer, KC4HM, who wrote: "I receive various e-mails from the Community Disaster Education Associate at the Louisville Chapter of the American Red Cross. I thought that this would be appropriate for ARES. Since Amateur Radio operators routinely assist the American Red Cross, I believe some of the courses would be beneficial for both amateur operators and the Red Cross. Additionally, in-person courses would provide an opportunity to make contacts and to develop a common understanding of each entity's functions and capabilities."
FCC Issues Public Notice on Amateur Radio and Government Disaster Drills
In September, the ARRL released guidelines that address numerous aspects of the issue of business communications in the Amateur Service. After last month's ARES E-Letter report on the policy paper, the FCC released a Public Notice clarifying the Commission's rules relating to the use of Amateur Radio by licensed amateurs participating in drills and exercises on behalf of their employers. Entitled Amateur Service Communications During Government Disaster Drills, the Public Notice addresses participation by paid employees of organizations taking part in drills.
The Public Notice -- DA 09-2259 -- affirms that the Commission's rules "specifically prohibit amateur stations from transmitting communications 'in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer.'" The Public Notice states that, in order to facilitate participation by employees who wish to engage in government-sponsored drills and emergency exercises on behalf of their employers, a waiver can be requested from the FCC by the government agency sponsoring the drill or exercise (and not by the individual who wishes to participate in the drill or exercise). The government entity conducting the drill must include in its waiver application the following information:
* When and where the drill will take place;
* Identification of the amateur licensees expected to transmit amateur communications on behalf of their employer;
* Identification of the employer(s) on whose behalf the amateur(s) will be transmitting; and
*A brief description of the drill.
The waiver request must be filed and acted upon in advance of the drill. The waiver must be actually granted by the Commission before the amateurs participate in the drill. It is not enough to apply -- the waiver must be granted first.
Government entities requesting a waiver for their emergency/disaster drill should submit a written request addressing the factors listed above to Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, 445 12th St SW, Washington, DC 20554, Attn: Scot Stone.
A waiver is needed only for those licensees transmitting messages on behalf of their employer during the State and local government public safety agency's "occasionally conducted emergency preparedness or disaster test or drill." This may, after analysis, turn out to be very few licensees or, by rearranging functions of participants, a waiver may not be needed. The Commission has also emphasized that only governmental agencies may apply for a waiver.
On October 27, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) granted the first waiver that allows amateurs who participate in a government-sponsored emergency preparedness and disaster drill to communicate on behalf of their employers during the drill. The waiver request was made on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. That state conducted a full-scale exercise on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 from 8 AM-5 PM (EDT) to test their emergency response to the possible release of chemical agents at Blue Grass Army Depot, located near Richmond, Kentucky.
Santa Cruz County Hams Called to Assist During Wildfires
Almost 20 years to the day since the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook California's Bay Area, a wildfire was burning through Santa Cruz County (approximately 75 miles south of San Francisco) just miles from the epicenter of the quake that caused part of the Bay Bridge to collapse. Just as Amateur Radio operators responded to calls for assistance for the earthquake, 20 years later on October 25, they responded when needed for a 485 acre wildfire.
CPR Training Options
I thoroughly enjoy your E-Letters. I do take exception when you indicate that two of the training courses that ARES members should have are the ARC CPR and First Aid Training. I do agree that these courses are of paramount importance knowing what we do as ARES members. I am a Red Cross instructor but would not teach the course to my people if it was a directive. Reason being, I attempted to get the materials for free or at least at cost and I would do the training for free. I was told that each trainee needed to pay the full price. I have asked in the past why ARRL does not include any other training disciplines and have not gotten a good answer. I for one do not think that any agency with the exception of the FCC should dictate training platforms. They all sit on the same emergency care forums. I am looking forward to an explanation as to why only Red Cross training is mentioned. Thanks and sorry for the rant. -- Tom Cook, KB3HZA, Washington County, Tennessee ARES EC
[Editor's note: Tom, the American Heart Association also provides CPR/Basic Life Support training, and indeed, it's the AHA courses that I take as a Registered Nurse to keep my certifications current. For information on the AHA courses, click here. - K1CE]
Commercialization of Amateur Radio Guidelines
Long over due! Thanks much! -- Rolan Clark, W3FDK, Adamstown, Maryland
I liked your item in the last ARES E-Letter on racking up your gear. I've been an adherent of using standardized equipment racks for years, and wish more radio manufacturers and those of aftermarket gear would think about adding rack mounting hardware from the get-go.
I'm an audio professional, and I live and die by equipment in 19" racks. A few comments that might help you, and your readers: The standard 19 inch equipment rack is a great way to get that station deployable. Now, before you rush right out to Musician's Friend or your local guitar center to buy one of those nice racks with the front and rear covers on the caster wheels, think a minute. Avoid the units with the fake plastic tuck and roll look. Instead, spend a little more money, and go with Anvil, Calzone or Road Ready. These racks are built with shock dampening capabilities and are good fits for your equipment for deployability. You can easily find rack mountable shelves, drawers for small parts, etc. Check with your local professional audio emporium and ask for Middle Atlantic products.
Another thought from years in the trenches of doing on site audio: Those caster wheels look like a good investment, but I find that I don't like anything bigger than an 8 space rack--small enough for one man to manhandle in and out of a truck, but still big enough to handle plenty of gear. I forego the caster wheels. Instead of the caster wheels I prefer my two wheeled hand truck. Just try wrestling a rack on caster wheels to the emergency ops location across the gravel parking lot, or through the grass, or the sand. If the dealer tells me they can't sell me the rack without caster wheels, I buy the darned thing, drive home, and pop off the little cheap-o wheels. -- Richard Webb, NF5B, NTS Central Area Net Manager, Eads, Tennessee
Saw your rack mount in the ARES E-Letter and thought I would forward a photo of mine. I built this about a year or so ago from a rack case that I had lying around. The advantage of the rack case is that both the front and rear have covers that pop on and off with secure latches. Set the unit
on a table, pop the front and back, hookup power and antenna and you are good to go. Originally I had planned to have batteries in the case but decided against it because: (1) So far in every instance I have been deployed we had AC or DC power available; (2) If I need to run off external batteries the case is wired so that I can plug in my battery pack or even clip to a car battery; and (3) No battery means less weight. The blank space at the left contains wiring for my Yaesu FT 100D if I need to go HF. My case
was published in an issue of Popular Communications a year or so ago, and it won me a year's subscription! - John Gionatti, W9WY, Munster, Indiana
K1CE For a Final
Although it was a quiet tropical weather season, we cannot become complacent, and it is now time for the 2009-2010 hurricane preparedness period when plans are reviewed, improved and circulated, and gear is also checked and inventories enhanced. Hurricane conferences will be held, and exercises, like December's SKYWARN Recognition Day will help radio amateurs gain proficiency. See story above. SRD is a blast of fun, too, by the way. Don't miss it!
Web Site Of The Month: Presidential Disaster Declarations
This FEMA graphic shows the types of disasters by region of the U.S. It can help serve ARES planning goals on a regional basis. Check it out -- it's fascinating. Tnx to Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, for the tip.
Also, here's a nice item involving Amateur Radio and MARS in the interoperability soup, forwarded by Tom Brown, N4TAB, North Carolina ARES ASEC, and Steve Waterman, K4CJX/AAA9AC, Winlink 2000 Network Administrator, Winlink Development Team; Army MARS Automation Coordinator/Agency Liaison; and Assistant Director, ARRL Delta Division. Thanks, gentlemen.
I am finally back on the air after a lightning hit took out my entire station and computer systems in June. It feels great to be back on my old friendly Northern Florida ARES Net on 3950 kHz every morning. You cannot find a more dedicated, and finer group of OMs and YLs on the air anywhere.
I have to also say how nice 40 meters is without the broadcasters there! It feels like a whole new band. When deciding on what organizations to give to this holiday season, think about making a donation to ARRL. It is the ARRL, over many years and conferences, to achieve the vastly more utilitarian 40 meter band. I just signed up for the ARRL Life Member payment plan. Happy Holidays to readers, from all of us here on the corporate mega-campus of the ARES E-Letter Editorial Staff and Board! 73! Rick, K1CE, Flagler County, Florida