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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
July 15, 2013
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:



ARRL to Host Hurricane Season Webinar TONIGHT!!

The ARRL will host a webinar tonight, Monday, July 15, 8-9:30 PM EDT [July 16, 0000-0130 UTC] to present information about the 2013 hurricane season and the Amateur Radio response. The program will offer presentations from representatives from the National Hurricane Center and WX4NHC, the VoIP Hurricane Net, the Hurricane Watch Net and the ARRL. Webinar registration is open to all, but will be of particular interest to ARES® and radio amateurs in hurricane-prone areas. If you are interested in emergency communication and hurricane preparedness and response, you are invited to attend this online presentation.

Topics will include a meteorological overview of the upcoming season, Amateur Radio station WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center: Who We Are and What We Do, ARRL Media and Public Relations, the National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Watch Net, the VoIP Hurricane Net, and ARRL coordination and interface. The session will conclude with a Q&A session. Register online. -- Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager

New Mexico ARES Units Support Wildfire Communications

New Mexico Amateur Radio operators assisted local government officials in the wake of the Tres Lagunas wildfire in steep, rugged terrain 15 miles north of Pecos. The San Miguel, New Mexico, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) team activated May 31 in response to a request from the county's emergency manager to support communication for the San Miguel County EOC in Pecos. The blaze, aided by high winds and dry conditions, covered more than 10,200 acres and the cause was attributed to a downed power line.

"San Miguel ARES provided communications support for 5 days at the county communications trailer at Pecos High School," reported New Mexico ARRL SEC Michael Scales, K5SCA. "Ten San Miguel ARES hams were involved." ARES team members operated radios in the EOC, maintained a relay station in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and traveled with three volunteer fire departments in the county, Scales added, while Santa Fe ARES remained on standby during the period, in case additional resources were needed.

Scales says ARES also provided communication support to the San Miguel County emergency operations center in Pecos, the New Mexico State EOC operations in Pecos, the county evacuation shelter at Pecos High School and three volunteer fire departments conducting patrols near the Tres Lagunas fire looking for spot fires and assisting people with respiratory problems. Responding to a request from the county emergency manager, San Miguel ARES offered communication support to state police in the Pecos area, since cell phone service was down, although the assistance was not needed. Read more. -- Michael A. Scales, K5SCA;; ARRL Letter, July 11, 2013 issue


Colorado ARES Supports Wildfire Fights

ARES volunteers mustered to support emergency communications after wildland fires broke out in Colorado in June. "For the second summer in a row the entire state of Colorado seems to be on fire," said North Central Colorado Region ARES Emergency Coordinator Perry Lundquist, W6AUN. "Currently there are 16 wildfires burning within Colorado."

Several Colorado ARES districts activated in the wake of the Royal Gorge and Black Forest fires June 11. After the Royal Gorge fire started near the famous Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, ARES members in Custer, Fremont, Huerfano and Pueblo counties responded, providing communication support for sheltering activities. The fire burned 3218 acres.

Later the same day, the Black Forest Fire erupted close to the Waldo Canyon area in Colorado Springs, where a similar wildfire caused widespread destruction last year. "The Black Forest Fire has now become the most destructive fire in Colorado history," Lundquist said. It ultimately consumed 14,280 acres and 507 homes and caused two deaths.

During the fire's peak, eight shelters were opened for both people as well as animals large and small, Lundquist reports. More than 35,000 residents had to evacuate, he said, placing a very heavy burden on the American Red Cross, which immediately requested ARES communication support between its eight various shelters and the Pikes Peak Red Cross headquarters. El Paso County, Douglas County and Elbert County ARES members responded by providing round-the-clock radio operators for several days.

Lundquist says several Jefferson County ARES members are still working on other fires within the state where their ARES members are assigned individually as National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) certified communication technicians and radio operators. "Colorado Section and Regional ARES leadership has worked closely to support the local ARES districts and to provide ARES mutual aid in the form of communications equipment and ARES-trained manpower resources wherever and whenever needed," he said.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported June 28 that the West Fork Complex and East Peak fires "continue to be the main concerns for fire managers in Colorado." Residents in the vicinity of those fires have been evacuated. -- Thanks to Perry Lundquist, W6AUN; Colorado SM Jack Ciaccia, WMØG; and Rick Lindquist, WW1ME

Emergency Managers Recognize Minnesota Ham

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) has named Monte Fronk, KCØWMC, of Isle, Minnesota, and Randolph Mantooth as co-winners of its 2013 IAEM-USA Public Awareness Award Certificate of Recognition. Fronk and Mantooth were recognized for developing and creating "Strength and Resiliency: Emergency Preparedness for Tribal Leaders," a 30 minute training video designed to educate elected Tribal leaders about disaster preparedness. Mantooth was one of the stars of the 1970s TV program "Emergency," which has been credited with inspiring a generation of firefighters and paramedics. -- Thanks to Steve "Sid" Caesar, NH7C, Chief, Division of Emergency Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs

New Mexico Hams Support Rough Rider Bike Tour

New Mexico's Colfax County/Angel Fire SAR (AFSAR) ARES Group and the Taos Amateur Radio Club cooperated in their effort to provide radio communications for the first Annual Rough Rider 200 Bicycle Tour, held on June 29 and 30. The tour covered 204 miles in the northern New Mexico counties of Taos and Colfax. A two day event, the first day the tour riders biked 104 miles from Angel Fire to Taos, to Sipapu, Tres Ritos, Mora, Sierra Bonita and back into Angel Fire, with five aid stations along the way. The second day took the tour 100 miles from Angel Fire to Taos, Arroyo Hondo, Questa, Red River, Eagle Nest and back into Angel Fire for the finish of the two day event. There were four aid stations manned on the second day.

All aid stations were staffed by at least one Amateur Radio operator to provide support communications for the tour volunteers who were present to assist the riders with food, water, mechanical repairs and first aid if needed. The Amateur Radio operators provided communications with the Start/Finish Line for logistical support and to request higher levels of medical aid as necessary. There were three SAG Wagons that each contained an Amateur Radio operator to assist the mechanics, pick up riders who could not proceed on down the road and to report progress of the riders or problems encountered along the route of travel.

The "Lead Vehicle" had on board the Organizer/Coordinator of the event and driving the vehicle and handling communications was the President of the TARC, Lew Baker, K5LEW, getting updates from Net Control at the Start/Finish Line that was manned by two Amateur Radio operators. The Incident Commander was also located there, and was updated regularly with progress of the event and any problems that needed to be dealt with. The "Caboose" or the "Sweep" vehicle operators made sure there were no riders left behind.

The Amateur Radio activities started with getting the communications table set up in the main tent before the event started at 0700 hours, which involved radio checks and logging of the check-ins of the various operators who would not be coming to the Start/Finish Line. Set up was straightforward with a dual band radio and a single band VHF radio, both served by a large fiberglass base station antenna. Communication was quickly established with the 147.30 MHz Elk Mountain, 147.12 MHz Picuris and the 147.34 MHz Angel Fire repeaters. Contact was also made with the Mega-Link 444.350 MHz repeater on Coal Mountain (Iron) for back up. Other repeaters were also used for this effort for information relayed to the Start/Finish Line from the top of Bob Cat Pass and the Arroyo Hondo area.

The event went smoothly and without a hitch, with the normal New Mexico weather prevailing: afternoon thunderstorms and high winds. The riders for the most part finished well within the projected time frame and aid was dispatched to the ones in need in a timely manner. All amateur operators performed to the level of expectations that the organizers were promised and the event was a success. The organizers promised that next year would be even better. The event was a good training opportunity for all participating Amateur Radio operators. There were "old hands" along with many "newbies" who gained excellent experience. - excerpted from the report of New Mexico SEC Michael A. Scales, K5SCA

Letters: Michigan Traffic Handlers Needed; Get Some Action

The Michigan Amateur Communications System (MACS) finds itself facing the same situation many other nets do, namely low participation. Our good news recently is that traffic is up but the number of people handling it has remained static. Traffic handling can be an enjoyable facet of the service and is a useful skill to have. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't as easy as picking up a microphone and talking, but on the other hand, it's not rocket science either. The net members have brainstormed and have come up with a few ideas to try: Starting August 1 we're going to move the net sessions from 1100 local to 1000 local with the frequency remaining 3.952 MHz with our alternate of 7.232 MHz. The thinking is that it might be easier for more people to find time to participate at that time of day and conditions might be more favorable. (Propagation has not been consistently friendly to us for a while). We're also going to have member comments first, followed by the traffic handling portion of the net. We're hoping that this new net protocol will make people feel more relaxed about checking in.

The first time you take a piece of traffic for handling can seem intimidating. I do recall that that was my experience when I handled my first piece of traffic in 1976! Rest assured that we've got time to take the time to break in new operators. You may receive a lot of comments and information regarding your technique at first but it's all based on long experience and is designed to make the process easier for both the sending and receiving operators. If you think you'd like some of that action, just let me know. -- Mike Horn, WB8TQZ, MACS Net Manager,; Pat Mullet, KC8RTW, ARRL Michigan Section Public Information Coordinator

ARRL to FCC: Changes to Encryption Rules Not Necessary

The ARRL is calling on the FCC to deny a Petition for Rule Making (RM-11699) seeking to permit the encryption of certain amateur communications during emergency operations or related training exercises. Don Rolph, AB1PH, of East Walpole, Massachusetts, petitioned the Commission in March to suggest an additional exception to §97.113, which currently prohibits "messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning."

"While Mr Rolph has concisely stated his argument, it is ARRL's considered view that there is no factual or legal basis for the assumption that encryption of necessary in order to continue and enhance the utility of Amateur Radio emergency and disaster relief communications," the League said in its comments filed July 8 with the FCC. The ARRL also turned away Rolph's assertion that the current prohibition in §97.113 "has impacted the relationship of Amateur Radio volunteers and served agencies and significantly limited the effectiveness of amateurs in supporting emergency communications." The League said it's unaware of any evidence that served agencies have been reluctant to utilize Amateur Radio as part of their emergency or disaster relief communications plans because of the encryption restrictions in Part 97. The Amateur Service rule is based on a similar prohibition in international telecommunication law, the ARRL noted.

The League characterized as "erroneous" and "unfounded" Rolph's assumption that encryption of certain information may be required under the provisions of HIPAA -- the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The League also said it was unaware of any instance in which state statutes have been cited by any served agency or group as a reason not to employ Amateur Radio for emergency communication.

Radio amateurs, the ARRL countered, are not "covered entities" under HIPAA, which applies only to health care providers, health plans and health care clearinghouses. And, the League added, there is no expectation of privacy in Amateur Radio communications.

More than 200 comments were filed on RM-11699, most of them tending to support the ARRL's arguments. Read more. - ARRL Letter, July 11, 2013 issue

Prepping for Brownouts and Blackouts

The heat is rising across the country. The high demands for electricity to keep cool are increasing the risk of areas experiencing blackouts or brownouts. Brownouts typically occur during heat waves due to heavy equipment coming online, short circuits, or electrical companies decreasing voltage in order to meet the needs of peak time. Blackouts occur when it is a complete power outage and can last from hours to weeks.

It's important that you take action now and prepare for the next time service interruptions occur in your area. Because the length of a power outage can vary from a few hours to several days, you need to plan to get by without utilities for at least three days. Not sure how to prepare? FEMA is here to help.

Use FEMA's "Going Off Grid: Utility Outages" activity module to reference simple steps to get prepared for an outage. Some utility outage checklist items include:

· Document important phone numbers and vital power company information

· Locate and label your utility shutoffs

· Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts

· Have your disaster kit ready and stocked

The "Going Off Grid: Utility Outages" activity module is part of FEMA's "Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere" tools, which educate individuals about relatively easy steps to take to become prepared for all types of hazards. The tools are designed for anyone to use in coordination with local emergency preparedness partners to help better prepare for emergencies. For additional tips on blackouts visit:

Lightning Strikes - Stay Safe

Thunderstorms are dangerous due to lightning. Although lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months in the afternoon and evening. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Be smart this summer to help reduce your risks. Below are a few tips to start:

· Postpone outdoor activities [and antenna work -- ed.] when a storm is being forecasted.

· Unplug electronic equipment before the storms begins.

· Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: The first "30" represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightening is close enough to hit you.

· During a storm, use your NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

· Avoid contact with any metal - tractors, motorcycles, bicycles, and golf clubs.

· Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower or wash dishes and do not laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.

For more tips and helpful information visit:

[A nearby strike took out my ICOM IC-756 PROIII and other station gear a few years ago, with the consequent shipping and repair headaches. I had left the equipment plugged in, and the antenna coax connected. It can and does happen -- don't let it happen to you! -- K1CE]

ARES Supports Search for 64 year-old: Vaughn, New Mexico

A Search and Rescue (SAR) mission was conducted on June 27-28 for a lost 64 year-old man near Vaughn, New Mexico. The man had been missing since 1500 on June 27 and an initial search/operational period during the evening and night had not yielded any results. The subject had been lost twice before in previous years. The subject was reported as barefoot. The last known point (LKP) was his home, 13 miles east of Vaughn on Route 60 and 9 miles in from Route 60 on a dirt road leading to his home, a farm house where he and his wife lived with some relatives. The terrain was dry grazing land on gently rolling hills. Donald Hinsman, N4VIP, from Santa Fe, drove 125 miles to support the effort.

The next day, the Bernalillo ARES (BCARES) Communication Van was situated at Incident Base with Charles Hayes, KC5KH, as the communicator. He had been there since 2100 the previous night. Santa Fe ARES (SFARES) was also consulted since it is listed in the New Mexico SAR Resource Directory. In addition to Hinsman, a new Incident Commander, the Guadalope Incident Command Post van, a new Operations Section Chief, and a New Mexico National Guard helicopter (Lobos 449) also arrived on-scene at approximately the same time.

The Incident Command Post was positioned at a site not near the BCARES Communications van, so the Incident Commander indicated she wanted the N4VIP communication vehicle to be co-located with the Command Post. Hinsman complied and immediately established communication links identical to those previously established in the BCARES van. Hayes meanwhile continued as communicator and established communications with the National Guard helicopter on channel SAR 1. Hinsman, in addition to establishing mission communication links with the objective of relieving Hayes, served as a runner for orders from the Incident Commander to the BCARES communications van operator.

At approximately 1100, the helicopter crew reported they had found the lost man and was landing. The landing site was approximately one mile from Incident Base and plainly visible. The subject was found deceased. The Incident Commander took the missing man's wife with her and drove out to the landing site. After some discussions, it was determined that the state Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) would come to the landing site to complete its investigation and remove the body. At this point, a recall of all inbound SAR resources was initiated. Hayes and the BCARES van departed at approximately 1200. Hinsman completed the mission and was released by the Incident Commander at approximately 1230. - excerpted from a report submitted by the New Mexico Section Emergency Coordinator, from field reports

Emergency Managers Industry Group Awards Hams' Broadband Net for Innovation

Broadband-Hamnet™ (formerly HSMM-Mesh™) firmware, developed by Amateur Radio operators to provide hams with a high-speed digital wireless communication mesh network, has won both US and global awards from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). The USA Council of the IAEM designated Broadband Hamnet as a Division 2 (state/regional/national government, international, or nonprofit organization) Technology and Innovation Award winner. It went on to win the IAEM-Global Technology and Innovation Award in the same division. The awards will be presented in October at the IAEM's annual conference in Reno, Nevada. The firmware was the subject of a cover story article in the July 2013 issue of QST, "A Broadband Ham Network Crosses the Finish Line," by Lynn Jelinski, AG4IU. The firmware is available at no charge via the project website, which describes Broadband-Hamnet as "a high-speed, self-discovering, self-configuring, fault-tolerant, wireless computer network" with very low power consumption and a focus on emergency communication. The current form uses Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS wireless routers and operates on channels 1-6 of the 2.4 GHz ISM band, which overlaps with the upper portion of the 13 centimeter Amateur Radio band. Glenn Currie, KD5MFW, David Rivenburg, AD5OO, Bob Morgan, WB5AOH, and Rick Kirchhof, NG5V, spearhead the effort, and there is a distributed development community with users in the US and abroad. -- Thanks to Broadband-Hamnet webmaster Jim Kinter, K5KTF

K1CE For a Final

Recently I flew to Boston to see family and old friends, and also had the opportunity to tour the bombing site at the Boston Marathon Finish Line at Copley Square. The hustle and bustle of city life was in evidence and seemed to belie the cruelty and tragedy of the events of April of this year. I also toured the site where the lone police officer on the MIT campus simply doing his job of keeping the public safe and secure, was gunned down by the same terrorist who at the same time of my tour was being arraigned nearby at the Federal courthouse just across the bridge in South Boston. Shivers went down my spine, as I felt sympathy for the victims, the Amateur Radio operators who provided safety radio communications for the events and who are almost certain to face insidious post- traumatic stress and anxiety, and the entire Boston community. - K1CE

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