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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
March 21, 2012
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio Hams Work Tornado Outbreak

A devastating storm system moved across the United States on March 2, spawning a slew of tornadoes that contributed to at least 28 fatalities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. These tornadoes followed an earlier outbreak that began on February 28 and left 13 dead across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee and battered parts of Kentucky. The Clark County (Indiana) Emergency Management Agency activated the local RACES team to help provide communications support, hams in Eastern Kentucky set up SKYWARN nets to assist the local National Weather Service office and Cincinnati-area hams supported the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross. The complete report can be found here. - ARRL Letter, ARRL Headquarters

2012 National Hurricane Conference Amateur Radio Activities

The National Hurricane Conference will be held March 26-29, at the Hilton Orlando in Orlando Florida. There will be several amateur radio activities going on during the week. The National Hurricane Conference (NHC) leadership continues to recognize the valuable contributions of amateur radio and again invited us to participate with two sessions. What a great opportunity for amateur radio!

NHC Session #1: Monday, March 26, 2012 from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm, the main amateur radio session titled, "Amateur Radio Training Sessions: Disaster Communications Before, During and After Hurricanes." NHC Session #2: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 from 8:30 am to 10:00 am, at the National Hurricane Conference (NHC), there will be an amateur radio session designed for Emergency Management agencies called "Amateur Radio Rap Session-The Emergency Manager's Hidden Resource".

On Monday, March 26, 2012 from 7:00 pm to 9:00pm, the Orange County Communications Auxiliary, the Orange County EOC and the ARRL Southeastern Division will host an interactive free "NHC Workshop" for all ARES interested amateur radio operators at the Orange County Emergency Operations Center, 6590 Amory Court, Winter Park, FL 32792. You will be able to meet other like-minded hams, the presenters of the Hurricane Conference amateur radio sessions and special guest Dr. Rick Knabb, Tropical Weather Expert at The Weather Channel. The agenda will be: introductions, conference presenters summarize the NHC amateur radio presentations, special guest speaker, emergency communications discussion, questions & answers and door prizes.

The three presentations will be livestreaming on the internet at, and

All hams are invited at no cost to attend session 1 and 2 at the National Hurricane Conference and the NHC Workshop at the Orange County EOC.

For additional information:

National Hurricane Conference presenters are:

Special Guest Speaker: Bill Read, KB5FYA - Director National Hurricane Center

John McHugh, K4AG - Coordinator for Amateur Radio, National Hurricane Center, WX4NHC

Julio Ripoll WD4R - WX4NHC Amateur Radio Assistant Coordinator,

Rob Macedo, KD1CY - Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net and ARRL SEC, Eastern Massachusetts

Mike Corey, KI1U - ARRL Emergency Preparedness manager

Greg Sarratt, W4OZK - ARRL Southeastern Division Director

We encourage you to visit all the activities you can and learn more about amateur radio emergency communications. Hope to see you there!

ARRL's EPM Corey on FEMA Think Tank Call

On February 17, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, and Henry Katz, KB3NYW, of Baltimore County, Maryland participated as presenters in FEMA's Think Tank Conference Call. The conference was hosted by FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino from city hall in San Francisco, California. In attendance at City Hall were representatives from FEMA, local and state emergency management, NGO's, and the private sector. An audience of over 400 from around the country also participated via teleconference.

The focus of the Think Tank conference call was the use of technology and social media in emergency management. The two specific topics discussed were: (1) How to communicate with disaster survivors and distribute information to mass audiences if cellular and on-line communications are unavailable immediately following a catastrophic disaster; in particular, how existing communications tools, such as Amateur Radio operators, can be leveraged and linked to other forms of mass communications following a disaster; and (2) How mobile applications can help emergency managers and individuals prepare for, respond to, and quickly recover from disasters.

Katz presented an overview of the Amateur Radio Service while Corey presented how radio amateurs relay vital messages during a disaster and how Amateur Radio works in conjunction with new technologies such as the Internet and social media. Following the presentations there was time for the audience to make comments and ask questions. The feedback received was good and the Deputy Administrator summed it up by saying "They're not Amateurs but they are very much professionals." For more information on the Amateur Radio portion of the FEMA Think Tank Conference Call see

Message from ARRL's Emergency Preparedness Manager KI1U: Get On The Air

In the March 2012 issue of QST your ARES E-Letter editor Rick Palm, K1CE, had some great advice and insight on training and certifications for EmComm. Taking part in regular training, whether a new course or a refresher, has several benefits. First, it lets our served agencies know that we take not only our relationship with them seriously, but their mission, too. Second, the learning experience itself benefits the individual Amateur. And third, taking part in regular training keeps us informed on what is happening with our served agencies.

Our focus on training, though, has missed something very important. Where do we start training? What is the first thing you should do if you want to help with emergency communications and public service? What is the most important training we can take part in? The answer was found in your Amateur Radio license study manual.

At the risk of being tarred and feathered by die hard EmComm enthusiasts, Amateur Radio is not all about emergency communications. It is about getting on the air and making use of the spectrum we've been granted. Training starts by turning on your radio. Any time you get on the air is training and a learning experience. It doesn't matter what you do on the air: Field Day, rag chewing, nets, DXing, contests, etc. What matters is that you get on the air. Not just when there is an ARES event or an emergency, but at every opportunity. GET ON THE AIR!

Think about this: what would we be doing if we didn't have spectrum to use? We get to keep our spectrum not by spelling out all the "what ifs" and doomsday scenarios. We keep it by using it, and using it a lot. There are those that wouldn't mind taking some of our spectrum from us. Saying we need it in an emergency doesn't always work; after all, even public safety feels the sting of spectrum grabs.

So how is getting on the air training? By being active on the Amateur bands, you will increase your knowledge of propagation, rules and regulations, station building, antennas, modes of communication, and build networks through the QSO's you make. It is a perpetual learning environment. After 25 years as an Amateur, I still learn new things by being active on the bands. Don't take my word for it; ask around to those in your EmComm group that have been there, done that, and have a closet full of t-shirts. Getting on the air is a learning experience.

You may not get a certificate for getting on the bands (well perhaps if you try DXing or contesting) and your served agency may not understand your excitement for logging that new country on 10 meters, but you will be learning and growing as an Amateur. So start training and get on the air. I hope to see you in my logbook soon. - Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager

Training: ICS Communications Unit

Every incident requires that certain management functions be performed. The problem must be identified and assessed, a plan to deal with it developed and implemented, and the necessary resources procured and paid for. Regardless of the size of the incident, these management functions still will apply.

There are five major management functions that are the foundation upon which the ICS organization develops. These functions are:

1) Incident Command -- Sets the incident objectives, strategies, and priorities and has overall responsibility for the incident.

2) Operations -- Conducts operations to reach the incident objectives, and establishes the tactics and directs all operational resources.

3) Planning -- Supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collecting/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation.

4) Logistics -- Provides resources and needed services to support the achievement of the incident objectives.

5) Finance & Administration -- Monitors costs related to the incident. Provides accounting, procurement, time recording.

The Communications Unit comes under the Logistics function, and develops the Communications Plan (ICS 205), to make the most effective use of the communications equipment and facilities assigned to the incident. Additionally, this Unit installs and tests all communications equipment, supervises and operates the incident communications center, distributes and recovers communications equipment assigned to incident personnel, and maintains and repairs communications equipment on site.

The Communications Unit is responsible for effective incident communications planning, especially in the context of a multiagency incident. All communications between organizational elements during an incident should be in plain language (clear text) to ensure that information dissemination is clear and understood by all intended recipients. Planning is critical for determining required radio nets, establishing interagency frequency assignments, and ensuring the interoperability and the optimal use of all assigned communications capabilities.

The Communications Unit Leader should attend all incident Planning Meetings to ensure that the communication systems available for the incident can support tactical operations planned for the next operational period.

Incident communications are managed through the use of an incident Communications Plan and a communications center established solely for the use of tactical and support resources assigned to the incident. Advance planning is required to ensure that an appropriate communications system is available to support incident operations requirements. This planning includes the development of frequency inventories, frequency-use agreements, and interagency radio caches.


Radio networks for large incidents may be organized as follows:

1. Command Net -- The command net links together Incident Command, Command Staff, Section Chiefs, Branch Directors, and Division and Group Supervisors.

2. Tactical Nets -- Several tactical nets may be established to connect departments, agencies, geographical areas, or specific functional units. The determination of how nets are set up should be a joint function designed by Planning, Operations, and Logistics.

3. Support Net -- A support net may be established primarily to handle changes in resource status but also to handle logistical requests and other nontactical functions.

4. Air-to-Ground Net -- To coordinate air-to-ground traffic, either a specific tactical frequency may be designated, or regular tactical nets may be used.

5. Air-to-Air Nets -- Air-to-air nets may be designated and assigned for use at the incident. An air-to-air net is designed to be used by airborne assets; ground units should not utilize this net. - FEMA ICS

Letters: Volunteer Management Models

I was EC in Leon County, Florida, and read your "Final" in the last issue with interest as it matches closely with our typing list that I, with Brian Short, KC0BS, developed several years ago after FEMA first released their initial typing structure. At the time I was the Technology Projects Manager for the Mid-America Regional Council and was developing a regional typing standard(s) for the entire Kansas City region for all emergency services personnel including volunteer groups such as Amateur Radio, CERT, and the Medical Reserve Corps.

In my new role as an Emergency Manager I'm now on the receiving end of the hams who want to help but I don't dare risk putting ineffective or untrained personnel into key positions using limited resources. This typing has been helpful in sending the right people to other jurisdictions locally and we hope it will be just as helpful on a state to state basis. How long has Flagler county been using their typing structure? Did you get any kickback from the hams when you implemented it? What do you think it will take to get these adopted on a national level so that we can share resources with some confidence that as a receiving agency we are getting what we need (which is, of course, the purpose of typing in the first place)? -- Matt May, KCEM, MEP Assistant Director, Operations, Johnson County Division of Emergency Management, Olathe, Kansas [There is a wealth of good information on the Flagler County, Florida, model of volunteer management here, including a program manual, application forms, and a volunteer typing matrix that was feautured in the last issue. - K1CE]

Training: IS-201 on ICS Forms

There is a new IS-201 class that overviews some of the ICS forms that could be used in an incident. While the mix covered in this class is different than what I have seen in actual incidents, the class does present the forms and should provide a good overview of how and why they are utilized. I would suggest that this class be considered for more advanced ARES/RACES personnel. We will be adding it to the certification requirements for personnel on our command vehicle. -- Garth Kennedy, W9KJ, Administrative Officer, Naperville, Illinois EMA [Course Overview: This is a web-based training course on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS). The course is designed to provide training through an independent study vehicle on the use of ICS forms. Take the course here. - ed.]

Letters: Maps and GPS Fallibility

The story Hams Help Save the Life of Fellow Ham in the December 2011 issue was interesting and heartwarming when learning of the safe rescue of the ham. The one thing that caught my eye was the misleading by the GPS in trying to lead to the motel the driver was looking for. I try to use the Internet mapping programs offered by Google and others. I print out the road and street layout of the location I am headed for when it is not a familiar location. I use my GPS to verify that I am on the roads that my map shows that I should be on, as I go along. When the GPS starts to send me to a road I know from the map is a wrong one, then I know not to trust or follow the GPS directions any longer. I then use the map and the roads shown on it to get where I need to get to.

Speaking in general, this is a good practice for any travel to an unfamiliar location such as for an assignment to an emcomm setup by an ARES member, and so on. These maps are incredible in detail, even including motels, gas stations, hospitals and so on. It is a resource that is free to anyone who has an Internet connection and a printer. Unfortunately, as we know, there is too much faith in cell phones and GPS devices, which are all too fallible, especially in an emergency. Printed maps do not depend on radio tethered devices. It is the one thing you can depend on, assuming you know how to follow a map, and it is not dependent on radio or satellites in any way. -- Murray Goldberg, KD2IN, Toms River, New Jersey

Letters: The Modern EOC

Thanks for the article Putting Amateur Radio in Context in the EOC [p.88, February 2012 QST]. I wholeheartedly agree with Troy and Bob's assessment stated in the last paragraph. I came to the same conclusion several years ago and joined up with CERT, the Medical Reserve Corps and the Local County Sheriff's Office Citizens on Patrol. The EMCOMM landscape has changed drastically here since 9/11, and Hurricanes Katrina and Ike.

Our county Mobile Command Center is equipped with every radio service imaginable, including satellite and Internet communications and Amateur Radio. Interoperability is vastly improved, though not perfect. Our local fire department reinstalled VHF radios in some of the trucks that are used for mutual aid to other counties since we have an 800 MHz trunking system but the more rural counties are on VHF FM. Currently there is a 700 MHz system being overlaid with the 800 MHz system for interoperability.

Half of our CERT members are radio amateurs. We have been called out for Search and Rescue, and use Amateur Radio and GMRS as our primary communication systems. The Medical Reserve Corp relies almost entirely on Amateur Radio for point to point communications as there are no funds for expensive Digital Trunking radio systems. Being a member of these different response groups allows one to meet and work with the decision makers at the county and city level. They see you as an emergency asset with a radio and not just someone who can talk on a radio. -- Eugene Murski, K5ZX, North Texas

Formidable Footprint: National Community/Neighborhood Exercise Series

The series of Formidable Footprint exercises for neighborhood, community and faith based organizations continues. The March 31 scenario is an earthquake. April 28's exercise involves flood scenarios. Exercises have also been scheduled for the following scenarios: Hurricane, Pandemic, Tornado, and Wildfire.

The Formidable Footprint exercise series has been developed in accordance with Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) protocols. The objective of the exercise series is for CERTs, Neighborhood Watch Programs, Neighborhood Associations, Community/Faith Based organizations, Citizen Corps, Fire Corps and others to work as a team to become better prepared for the next disaster their community may face. There is no charge for participation in any of the Formidable Footprint exercises. For additional information or to register for upcoming exercises, please access the following website: Stay informed regarding future exercises by joining the Formidable Footprint LinkedIn Group.

Changing of the Guard in North Carolina's Orange County

Laurie Meier, N1YXU, has retired as ARES EC for Orange County, North Carolina. During Meier's tenure as EC, the Orange County program was broadened with stellar leadership. Ms. Meier is the first to receive the North Carolina ARES Area 10 Outstanding Service Award. She humbly dedicated the award to the Orange County ARES group. Meier was instrumental in developing their ARES leadership team, structured and productive weekly nets along with meetings called "Ready Rallies" that have always produced better informed and trained ARES members.

With Meier's resignation, Steve Ahlbom, W3AHL, has gracefully accepted the position. Because of ramped up objectives by Emergency Management for interoperability and increased training demands, his new role will require strong leadership skills. Mr. Ahlbom is well respected among the amateur community, and brings a lot to the table as he has been part of the ARES leadership team as an AEC. Ahlbom has technical qualities and experience in an active role in supporting regional and state disaster groups. - North Carolina ARES Area 10 News, Volume 1, Issue 1, January 2012

K1CE For a Final

I'm back on D-STAR with my ICOM IC-2200H and will have some reports on my experiences in the next few issues. It certainly is an exciting mode and the implications for Amateur Radio emcomm are almost limitless, with numerous applications for digital voice and data.


Thanks go to the ARRL's Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, for his contribution to this month's newsletter, and for his continuing work for the League's emcomm programs. He is also my editor up at the Ivory Tower, and the last filter before these words hit the streets. Thanks, Mike!

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