March 24, 2010Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
The View from Flagler County
The ARES® renewal effort here is humming along. Registration for ARES® in the East Coast District, with emphasis on Flagler County is now underway with a new registration form available: It requests typical data on license and station capabilities, and Driver's License Number, which is required for inter-county deployment when requested by the Florida state EOC. This is not optional if you wish to be deployed outside of your county of residence. The registration form also requests the applicant's signature, which indicates that he/she will comply with an ARES® Code of Conduct listed on the back side of the form. I was very pleased to submit my application for membership.
Eddie Cail, KJ4LRB, a relatively new licensee, has been appointed to the position of Assistant DEC for Membership and Administration. Cail will keep membership and training/certification records in order. To ensure continuity and proper succession planning, we will be continually forwarding our records to the Northern Florida Section Manager and Section Emergency Coordinator.
We are accepting nominations for the Emergency Coordinator (EC) position for Flagler County. A few very good nominations have already been received, and candidates will be interviewed after March 22. The ideal candidate should have thick skin and a bias to action. There is no lack of projects, communication and coordination that needs to be performed both within Flagler County and with our partners in Volusia and St. Johns counties, and surrounding areas.
ARES® operators are being encouraged to complete the FEMA classes IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800, which are now required by all county EOCs. All of these classes are available online and are FREE. Start with IS-100 at the following URL: http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS100A.asp. Certificates of successful completion will be forwarded to local EOCs as training confirmations. - Flagler ARES® Newsletter, March 2010 issue
In This Issue:
Southeastern Division to Host National Hurricane Conference March 29 - April 2
ARRL Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, proudly announces that the division will host the 2010 National Hurricane Conference, March 29 - April 2 at the Orlando Hilton, Orlando, Florida. This is the nation's forum for education and professional training in hurricane preparedness.
The primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management.
On Tuesday, March 30, from 1:30 to 5:00 PM, all hams are invited at no cost to attend the "Amateur Radio: Disaster Communications Before, During and After Hurricanes" session in room Orange C.
On Wednesday, March 31, from 8:30 to 10:00 AM there will be an Amateur Radio session designed for Emergency Managers called "Amateur Radio: The Emergency Manager's Hidden Resource."
This conference will help Amateur Radio be successful in hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. For more info: 2010 National Hurricane Conference.
Radio Club de Chile (RCCH) President Dr Galdino Besomi, CE3PG, reported that the situation in Chile is "very complex" as the country suffered aftershocks registering 6.0 or higher after the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile on February 27. "Red Chilena Nor Austral de Servicio (RECNA) and RCCH networks worked in coordination with the Army of Chile, handling information about people localization, condition of roads and support for the emergency administration," IARU Region 2 (Area G) Emergency Coordinator Jorge Sierra, LU1AS, told the ARRL. He asked the amateur community to keep certain frequencies free from non-essential, emergency traffic. The RCCH set up an e-mail address where people could request information concerning people affected by the earthquakes. - ARRL Letter
Hawaii Mobilized for Potential Tsunami
Ron Hashiro, AH6RH, Hawaii State Civil Defense ARES®/RACES Coordinator, thanked the Amateur Radio community for outstanding support of a state-wide tsunami net convened in the immediate aftermath of the Chilean earthquake. The net was held on the State RACES VHF network, and on HF at 7088 kHz. "We had a combined total of 60 stations on VHF and HF checked into the net," said Hashiro. "Real-time observations from the field were passed, and tactical messages were injected directly into the State Civil Defense's information tracking and reporting systems." Hashiro added: "At the same time, amateurs in three county EOCs were able to receive the same radio reports for informational updates for their EOC operations."
The location reports, time-stamping, and timeliness with the estimates of water height information demonstrated the professionalism of the Amateur Radio Service to the SCD staff operations and to the Governor. SCD Director Ed Teixeira was extremely pleased and grateful for these reports and extended his thanks to the Amateur Radio community for an outstanding job well done.
Haiti Medical Mission Supported by ARRL, Amateur Radio
ARRL and Amateur Radio has supported a medical mission to Haiti. Project Medishare was founded in 1994 by the University of Miami Medical School and Haiti physicians and health officials. Over the years, Medishare constructed several health clinics, all of which were destroyed in the earthquake. In the quake's aftermath, Medishare was able to rapidly deploy medical teams and assets to begin the overwhelming task of meeting medical needs. A field hospital was established within the relatively secure boundaries of the Port-au-Prince Airport. Large tents were supplied to set up makeshift operating rooms, patient treatment and recovery areas and mass sleeping quarters for the volunteers.
Overall conditions were basic to primitive. An immediate need was to establish a logistics chain for supplies from cots, food, water, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to handling the more than one hundred volunteers rotating in and out every five to seven days.
Establishing reliable local and international communication was also a high priority. The University of Miami's IT group set up two broadband Vsat satellite links to handle e-mail and two channels of VoIP phone circuits, but they were unstable and not reliable. An operations director then contacted Julio Ripoll, WD4R, one of the volunteer leaders at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Ripoll in turn contacted ARRL to request help in soliciting volunteers.
ARRL immediately sent an HF "Ham Aid Kit" and put Ripoll in touch with Neil Lauritsen, W4NHL/NNN0TFH, ARRL West Central Florida Section Emergency Coordinator and Navy MARS Florida State Deputy Director. Ripoll described the mission profile and that he had only two WX4NHC operators ready to go to Haiti. He requested operators to go to Haiti to provide two to three weeks of backup communications until such time as the permanent satellite system was stabilized. John McHugh, K4AG, assembled the list of equipment needed, and Medishare provided it for both ends of the circuit: Haiti and Miami. The equipment came from AES in Orlando.
The WX4NHC Club built a complete station at the Haiti Command Center Building on the UM Medical Campus including erecting antennas on the roof. Dale Botwin, KR4OR, and Ivan Menendez, KB4RMB, configured the HF radio for remote control, Skype and Winlink e-mail capability. EchoLink was added later as an internal coordination system between UM Haiti and the principal coordinators stateside with the help of Rob Macedo, KD1CY, and Tony Langdon, VK3JED.
The original mission profile was to set up an HF station capable of providing backup voice via phone patch and backup e-mail capability via HF Winlink. Both of these objectives could be met using normal Amateur Radio frequencies, but with limitations due to propagation and stations available when needed for phone patch traffic, it was decided to increase flexibility and capability by using MARS assets to extend the number of Winlink stations available and use the Air Force MARS-dedicated phone patch circuit that was available 24/7. The volunteers were arranged in teams of two operators with at least one being a MARS operator. Equipment included an ICOM IC-718 and AH-710 supplied by ARRL.
VHF operations were set up on 146.52 MHz with Ron Tomo, KE2UK/AAT2BC at the Nassau medical clinic approximately five miles from the airport. The clinic had limited medical resources, and consequently there was much traffic conducted with Miami Medical as a resource for patient consulting, patient transfers to Miami, to other medical facilities and to the US Navy ship Comfort.
Once the need to establish direct communications with the Comfort was apparent, a VHF radio was modified to work on marine frequencies. When contact was made, priority and emergency traffic was passed. Communications with the Comfort were conducted seamlessly. The link with the Comfort was critical to saving a lot of lives.
Twenty five phone patches were made over the AF phone patch net and the Maritime Mobile Net on 14.300 MHz. Having access to the AF phone patch net was valuable providing virtually 100% phone patch availability regardless of propagation or time of day or night. All were routine health and welfare messages that were appreciated by the Miami Medical personnel.
A communications link was also established with the U.S. Joint Operations Command (JOC) to coordinate certain local security concerns. The six-meter band was used for this purpose.
One of the unexpected communication needs was to maintain the GMRS radios being used by the UM personnel. They had 12 radios, most of which were not working. The volunteers worked on the radios by replacing dead batteries, battery connections, wrong frequencies, and so forth. The radios then worked within the hospital grounds, but could not work when needed over longer distances. A Yaesu FT-897 was used on Channel 21 (462.700 Mhz) and acted as a manual repeater to relay traffic between operators.
A VHF/UHF MARS-modified hand-held was also put into service on 462.700 MHz when extended range was needed; for example, for daily trips to a medical supply point four miles away.
HF Winlink was used for routine traffic. Its primary purpose was to provide backup for emergency traffic should the VSAT e-mail link go down. This was never needed but having the capability was a safety net that met the mission requirements.
The major lesson was the importance of interoperability, which was managed well: Army, Navy and Air Force MARS each stepped in with a coordinated effort, each with defined support roles. The ARRL was there from the beginning with equipment and reciprocal licensing support, to contacting the FCC to clear the use of traffic, to supporting the ordering of medical supplies and meeting other logistical requirements.
The mission provided a new perspective on interoperability, primarily among the three MARS services, ARES®, ACS and U.S. Military assets.
One other critical observation was the obvious need for more MARS operators in support of the various U.S. military units operating in Haiti. The team was asked to supply operators and equipment to help them improve their communications across the various services deployed. Based on this experience and the new mission statement for MARS, it is hoped that this will facilitate the three MARS Chiefs and the DOD to review the communication support MARS can provide during future humanitarian missions. MARS members should train and be prepared for deployment, not if but when the U.S. Military is called upon to provide the leadership for another major humanitarian relief mission. -- Jack Satterfield W4GRJ/AFA4DG, Saint Pete Beach, Florida
Chemical Stockpile Exercise Supported in Alabama
The annual Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) exercise was conducted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 in northeast Alabama. The six CSEPP counties are centered around Calhoun County where the Anniston Army Depot at one time housed 7% of the nation's stockpile of chemical weapons. (Congress has directed that the U.S. Army destroy certain kinds of chemical weapons stockpiled at six U.S. Army installations in the U.S. over the next several years. Experts believe the chance of an accident involving these obsolete chemical munitions is remote. However, local officials and responders have to be ready for such an emergency today and every day until the stockpile in their community no longer exists),
It was a multi-hazard exercise this year. In Anniston, at the primary hospital, the Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center, a mock fire at 7:30 AM destroyed several wards. A mobile hospital was requested from another CSEPP county. The hospital had just received new Amateur Radio equipment through a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health. The hospital had five ARES operators Tracy Stephens, KI4OZG, David Whilhoite, KM4DLW and Peggy Whilhoite, KM4MPW who were all in the radio room while Mike Phillips, KI4KOT operated the "Decon" Site. James Adams, W4FMI operated the Mobile Hospital.
The second part of the exercise involved a mock tornado in the northern part of Calhoun County hitting two schools, the Pleasant Valley Elementary and Pleasant Valley High School with structural collapse and many trapped, injured, and killed. ARES AEC David Spinks, W4EMG, and AEC James Brown, KG4HXN operated the Alabama Department of Homeland Security Region 7 Communications Vehicle. They were dispatched to the Staging area and set-up the communications and camera system for the EMA to view the staging area scene. Jacksonville Fire Chief Wade Buckner, KD4TFS played a big part in the exercise as well.
At 9 AM the CSEPP part of the exercise began with a simulated release of Mustard agent from the Anniston Army Depot. The sirens and Tone Alert Radios alerted (simulated) citizens in the affected areas. Residents were instructed to shelter in place and wait for further instructions. Calhoun County DEC/EC Randall Landers, KG4EUD activated the Calhoun County EMA ARES staff and the Alabama Emergency Net on the state's highest repeater located on Cheaha mountain.
All six CSEPP county ECs were active on the Alabama Emergency Net: checked in were Landers, Clay County EC David Hester, KC4LQT, Cleburne County EC Randy Smith, W4AUB, Etowah County EC Dave Waits, K4VMV, St Clair County EC Steve Ayres, KG4VSH and Talladega County EC Jim McIlwain, W4LVT. Each EC managed their
own operations to support Calhoun County, running their own nets as well as monitoring the main District wide net with Alabama State EMA station KF4LQK. The Calhoun County EMA Director Dan Long, KI4SUF requested EC Landers take over on 800 MHz so the EMA could manage the CSEPP. Landers performed dispatch duties on the 800 MHz Digital trunking system.
During the exercise, the D-STAR net had seven agencies represented. Twenty-four D-RATS messages were sent with many between the hospital and the EMA. Dave Dostie, AE9Q operated the Joint information Center.
During the hot wash the FEMA lead evaluator said that communications was by far the best part of the exercise with so many systems employed. The Alabama District 7 team did a great job. -- Randall Landers, KG4EUD [Landers is District 7 District Emergency Coordinator; Calhoun County EMA RACES Commander; Calhoun County Citizens Corps Council Chairperson; Calhoun County ARES Emergency Coordinator; Alabama Association of Emergency Managers; Calhoun County Amateur Radio Association Trustee]
RACES Revitalization Effort Underway in Nebraska; SM Seeks Input
The ARRL Nebraska Section leadership is considering how to re-energize RACES in the state. Current thinking is that RACES would be revamped as an elite emergency communications corps, administered operationally as well as organizationally under the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). There would be eight divisions of RACES, one in each of the eight Planning, Exercise, and Training (PET) regions. "Elite" means that to be a member of RACES, you would have to pass a sequence of on-line (and maybe "live") courses in emergency communications and emergency management and to take part in periodic emergency drills and exercises. Membership in RACES would be open to any qualified Amateur Radio operator who meets the training requirements.
While RACES members would report to a leader in each of the PET regions, they would be available for assignments at the request of the county emergency managers in that region. This action would create a corps of well-qualified, trained individuals for emergency managers to count on.
To implement this new organization, current RACES operators would be cancelled after a period long enough to allow them to qualify under the new rules. New RACES certs would be issued as soon as hams met the training requirements.
The RACES state Radio Officer (RO) would become a single point of contact between NEMA and organized Amateur Radio emergency communications in the state. The Nebraska SM Art Zygielbaum, K0AIZ, has been asked to serve in that capacity.
So what happens to ARES®? The current thought is that ARES® would be administered within counties just as it is now. ARES® members would be encouraged to qualify for the new RACES certs. An appropriate protocol would be worked out to prevent a conflict of commitment for hams who are members of both ARES® and RACES. Since the head of ARES® in the state, Section Emergency Coordinator Jon Morris, KAØJGG, reports to the Section Manager, both RACES and ARES® will have common leadership at the top.
Early support from the field has been encouraging. Before formal action is taken, however, Zygielbaum is asking for broader participation in discussions. The objective is for the Nebraska Amateur Radio community to do a better job of supporting the state's emergency management organizations. Zygielbaum said "I am hoping that the actions under consideration will strengthen us and encourage the participation of new hams." "Thoughts and ideas would be very valuable." Zygielbaum can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCC Seeks Comments for Blanket Waiver to Allow Amateur Radio in Hospital Emergency Drills
In February, 2010, the American Hospital Association (AHA) filed a request with the FCC for a blanket waiver of Section 97.113(a)(3) of the Commission's Rules "to permit hospitals seeking accreditation to use Amateur Radio operators who are hospital employees to transmit communications on behalf of the hospital as part of emergency preparedness drills." On March 3, the FCC issued a Public Notice -- WP Docket 10-54 -- seeking comments if the Commission "should grant AHA's request for a blanket waiver of Section 97.113(a)(3) to permit amateur operators who are hospital employees to participate in emergency drills that are conducted by hospitals for accreditation purposes and that are not government-sponsored." Section 97.113(a)(3) specifically prohibits amateur stations from transmitting communications "in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer." Instructions on how to paper file or file electronically comments are listed in the Public Notice.
ARRL Requests Support for Senate Bill 1755
Senate Bill 1755 -- The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009 introduced in October 2009 by Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) -- has unanimously passed the US Senate and has been sent to the US House of Representatives for consideration and now sits in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The ARRL is asking its membership to contact the leadership of the Energy and Commerce committee, requesting support and action on moving S 1755 through the committee. S 1755 accomplishes the same things as HR 2160; HR 2160 was introduced in April 2009 by Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). Since S 1755 has already been approved by the Senate, moving it forward in the House will simplify the process.
S 1755 points out that "[t]here is a strong Federal interest in the effective performance of Amateur Radio Service stations, and that performance must be given -- (A) support at all levels of government; and (B) protection against unreasonable regulation and impediments to the provision of the valuable communications provided by such stations."
If enacted into law, S 1755 would instruct the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake a study -- and report its findings to Congress within 180 days -- on the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio communications in emergencies and disaster relief.
The study shall:
*Include recommendations for enhancements in the voluntary deployment of Amateur Radio licensees in disaster and emergency communications and disaster relief efforts.
*Include recommendations for improved integration of Amateur Radio operators in planning and in furtherance of the Department of Homeland Security initiatives.
*Identify unreasonable or unnecessary impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio communications, such as the effects of private land use regulations on residential antenna installations, and make recommendations regarding such impediments.
*Include an evaluation of Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996)).
*Recommend whether Section 207 should be modified to prevent unreasonable private land use restrictions that impair the ability of amateurs to conduct, or prepare to conduct, emergency communications by means of effective outdoor antennas and support structures at reasonable heights and dimensions for the purpose, in residential areas. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall utilize the expertise of stakeholder entities and organizations, including Amateur Radio, emergency response and disaster communications.
Please contact Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA-30) and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX-6), urging them to send this bipartisan bill to the House floor for adoption. A sample letter can be found here. Send your letters urging consideration of S 1755 by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to Rep Waxman via fax at 202-225-2525, and to Rep Barton via fax at 202-225-1919. Also, please fax a copy of your letters to the ARRL's Washington representative, Chwat & Co at 703-684-7594.
For more information on S 1755, please visit the ARRL Government Relations Web page.
Here is a good clip on D-STAR.
From Les Rayburn, N1LF: Great NPR article on solar storms here.
Rayburn also recommends an article on how people react in a disaster situation. A team of behavioral economists from Switzerland and Australia have published a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that takes an imaginative new look at who survived and who perished aboard the two ships Lusitania and Titanic, and what the demographics of death say about how well social norms hold up in a crisis.
A good item from Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU: Using the Internet as a Public Service Radio Scanner.
X50 Antenna Tips
I saw the notes (January issue) about those who may use the X50 antenna. I have one as my main carry out antenna. I keep coax attached. I used the mounting brackets to attach it to a piece of PVC pipe that slips over my fiberglass mast assembly I use as an emergency antenna support. That way I don't have to use a wrench to take the base apart to attach coax or to a mast. It goes together in less than a minute after the mast is put together. - Chris Rose, KB8UIH, Midland, Michigan
K1CE For a Final
I lost my wonderful wife, Joanne Palm, W1GUN, to cancer this month. I met her at ARRL HQ in Newington in 1980 when we both worked there; she was a secretary in the old Communications Department. Joanne always enthusiastically supported my passion for Amateur Radio, and when I was traveling away from home on the hamfest and convention circuit for many weekends of my HQ staff years. Thanks to the vanity call sign program, she was able to obtain her father's call sign.
While she was home on Hospice these last few months, we communicated around the house using two Yaesu hand-held 2-meter rigs that I was testing for a QST Product Review. For example, if I was working on this newsletter in the ham shack, she could call me if she needed anything. It was fun, too!
I am reminded of the timeless "The Amateur's Code," written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928: The amateur is "BALANCED . . . radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community." While Amateur Radio was also a vocation for me, I always ensured that I spent more time with Joanne, devoting it to her needs and interests. This was not so much because of duty, but for love. We both enjoyed doing things together, no matter what they were.
Give your spouse or significant other an extra hug for me today, and thank him or her for their support of your Amateur Radio passion. - 73, Rick, K1CE