March 19, 2014Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
In This Issue:
July's ARRL Centennial Convention and Banquet Not to be Missed!
I am excited about attending this July's ARRL Centennial Convention, which will feature a banquet with keynote speaker FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ. The banquet will be held on Friday night, July 18 in Hartford, Connecticut. The event is among the highlights of the ARRL Centennial Convention July 17-19 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Prior to becoming FEMA Administrator, Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Fugate has been an Amateur Radio licensee since 2012.
On Thursday, you can attend the Public Service Communications Academy, conducted by ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U. Speakers from a wide range of organizations that partner with Amateur Radio public service communicators will talk about a wide-range of topics - from best practices to training to managing volunteer participants.
Other public service-related forums and presenters include: International Disaster Response: Lessons Learned (Jay Wilson, W0AIR); National Hurricane Center WX4NHC Amateur Radio (Julio Ripoll, WD4R); Best Practices of the National Weather Service's SKYWARN Program (Robert Macedo, KD1CY); Boston Marathon Communications - Before, During and After (Robert Macedo, KD1CY); Public Service Communications-Maintaining Readiness When Nothing Bad Is Happening (Ross Merlin, WA2WDT); Broadband Mesh Networking and Amateur Radio (Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT); DHS-OEC - Training Resources Available for the Amateur Radio Operator (Dept. of Homeland Security - OEC Staff); and more!
I hope to see many readers of the ARES E-Letter there, for what is sure to be one of the seminal events in the history of Amateur Radio, and especially ARRL!
Next Month in Orlando: 2014 National Hurricane Conference Amateur Radio Activities
The National Hurricane Conference will be held April 14 -17 at the Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Parkway, Orlando, Florida. There will be several Amateur Radio activities on Tuesday, April 15. As usual there is no registration fee needed to attend these sessions. The National Hurricane Conference (NHC) leadership continues to recognize the valuable contribution of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and again invited us to participate with three sessions. A great opportunity for Amateur Radio!
NHC Session #1: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Presentations from Dr. Richard Knabb, Director of the National Hurricane Center; Bob Robichaud, VE1MBR, of the Canadian Hurricane Center and from members of WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
NHC Session #2: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM
This session covers emergency and disaster communications operations in the Orlando area, the 2013 Boston Marathon disaster and two different views on Hurricane Sandy.
NHC Session #3: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
This session will cover the operations of the Hurricane Watch Net, the VoIP Hurricane Net, together with an ARRL update and an introduction of the new Southeastern Division Director and followed by an Amateur Radio Rap session - the Emergency Manager's Hidden Resource.
All hams are invited, at no cost to attend the Amateur Radio sessions. Door prizes will be awarded, including a dual band handheld radio.
For additional information:
National Hurricane Conference Presenters:
Special Guest Speaker, Dr. Knabb, Director, National Hurricane Center.
Special Guest speaker, Bob Robichaud, VE1MBR, Canadian Hurricane Center
John McHugh, K4AG, -- WX4NHC Coordinator Amateur Radio, National Hurricane Center
Julio Ripoll, WD4R - WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Amateur Radio at NHC
Rob Macedo, KD1CY - Director of Operations VoIP Hurricane Net and ARRL ARES SEC of Eastern Massachusetts.
Dennis Dura, K2DCD, Assistance Director Office of Emergency Management NJDHS
Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, Hurricane Watch Net Manager
Keith Kotch, KF4BXT, Communications-Warning Coordinator Orange County EOC
Mike Corey, KI1U - ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager
Doug Rehman, K4AC, ARRL Southeastern Division Director
We encourage you to visit and participate in all the activities you can and learn more about amateur radio emergency service communications. Hope to see you there! -- Doug Rehman, K4AC, ARRL Southeastern Division Director http://www.southeastern.arrl.org
Salvation Army: WB5ALM Operational at Three States' Emergency Disaster Services Center
WB5ALM is now the official call sign for the SATERN station of the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi (ALM) Division of The Salvation Army at the Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Center in Jackson, Mississippi. The purpose of the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) is to train and acquire personnel skilled in emergency communications and message handling, who will support Salvation Army operations in local, regional and international disaster situations. The call sign was activated on March 4, 2014.
The call sign and station was first used to check in to the International SATERN Net on 14.265 MHz on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The station and new call sign will be used by both the fixed station at the Divisional EDS Center as well as for mobile operations from the SATERN Coordinator's official vehicle and whenever the Territorial Communications Trailer is deployed.
The acquisition of the specialized call sign culminates the nearly year-long process of building the Division's new SATERN station at the ALM Divisional EDS Center. The new station is capable of being completely remote controlled via the Internet. Territorial SATERN Net Manager Ken Standard, AD5XJ, said "The goal is to allow for a select group of qualified, trained Net Control operators to operate a state-of-the art SATERN station that is centrally located within the ALM Division and the Southern Territory from their home location anywhere in the Territory." Territorial SATERN Coordinator Bill Feist, WB8BZH, added "This new station will make it easier to recruit SATERN operators to operate the station during a disaster or emergency by reducing the need for them to be physically present at the EDS Center."
The SATERN station has been in development for nearly a year and is completely state-of-the-art. The equipment consists of a Kenwood TS-2000 powering an Alpha 9500 into a Force 12 Delta C-3E tri-band beam and separate dipoles on 75 and 40 meters with 11 element beams for VHF and UHF. The station also has a Hy-Gain AV-680 all-band vertical as a backup antenna. The station also has an ICOM ID-800H into a dual-band J-Pole vertical and an Alpha 2000 dummy load. The entire station, including the TS-2000, the Alpha 9500, the Yaesu G-1000DXA rotor and all band and antenna switching can all be controlled remotely via the Internet. - Salvation Army SATERN
Public Health Preparedness Conference Highlights Amateur Radio
The Preparedness Summit is the largest public health preparedness conference in the United States. The 2014 event will take place April 1-4 in Atlanta, Georgia with some 2000 preparedness professionals expected to attend the multidisciplinary event. This year, the Preparedness Summit is highlighting the importance of Amateur Radio, and special event station N4P will operate from the Exhibit Hall. -- ARRL
Colorado ARES Promotes Amateur Radio at ChaserCon
Colorado Section Emergency Coordinator Robert Wareham, NØESQ, reports a job well done on his ARES team's promotion of Amateur Radio at ChaserCon 2014 - the National Storm Chaser Convention. From its website: "The National Storm Chaser Convention (ChaserCon) is owned and co-organized by Roger Hill and Tim Samaras (WJ0G, SK). The convention is held each year in Denver, Colorado, and is geared for the storm chaser, spotter and storm enthusiast, to be the premiere storm chaser gathering of the year. We bring you some of the best scientists and forecasters in the world to present at the convention each year." [Storm chasing is a different activity than storm spotting, such as the spotters trained under the SKYWARN program.-- ed.]
WJ0G was killed along with his partner and son in the El Reno tornado on May 31 last year. His wife Cathy approached Wareham at the convention and thanked Colorado ARES for showing up in force to support the conference. She noted that Tim had mentioned a conversation with Wareham last year about getting Colorado ARES involved in promoting Amateur Radio at ChaserCon. "It's nice that we were able to follow through on this idea that had Tim's support even though he is no longer with us," Wareham said.
Amateur Radio licensing testing through the efforts of the VEC team from Douglas/Elbert ARES. ChaserCon is held on President's Day Weekend in Denver every year. Mark your calendar now and plan to attend and help out next year. Wareham said "It was a great event and those who helped out had a good time working with their Colorado ARES colleagues." - ARRL Colorado Section News
Opinions: Balance Needed for Training Requirements
A letter from William N. Miller, KJ7GQ, of Sisters, Oregon on the subject of ARES training/certification requirements and a responding editorial appearing in last month's issue of the ARRL ARES E-Letter sparked a small firestorm of opinions from readers:
Joseph "Skip" Reymann, N6SR, wrote "I strongly support KJ7GQ's comments . . . I think that the FEMA courses are helpful at [the management] level, but are not necessary at the individual volunteer level. For the typical volunteer, training in equipment setup, message handling, dealing with personnel of served agencies, and methods of radio-communication are more important. Our ARES and CERT leaders have all completed the FEMA courses. Recruitment is a difficult task. Let's not make it more difficult by levying unnecessary training requirements."
Daron Wilson, N7HQR, wrote about the CERT program: "Training is mandatory if you intend to participate. Gone are the days when you just raised your hand; served agencies expect and demand that we as volunteers be competent. Standardized, specific, documentable training is required. If citizens are required to have 24 hours of standardized training, auxiliary communicators should be at least capable of the same."
David Gillespie, W4LHQ, offered this: "I am a contract instructor for FEMA and believe strongly that the ICS is not simply a 'nice to know' set of organization charts but a structured approach to dealing with emergencies. I do agree, however, that we need to find a balance of requirements between a wink and a smile, and a graduate degree in Emergency Management."
Blair Christensen, KF7LXF, wrote "I became a radio amateur in 2010 with the prime purpose of being able to take care of my family and my community in the event of an emergency. I joined the ARES team in Great Falls, Montana (W7ECA), where I participated in exercises with wild land firefighters, CERT, and public safety/service events. Our standard requirement was one course by the end of the year (IS-700a), and the other basic required FEMA courses by the end of the following (IS-100, 200, and 800). Our goal was to provide a top-notch and ready crew conversant in the ICS standards and methodologies and we made it clear that this would be the new standard. Members of the team voiced similar concerns as those of KJ7GQ. But, our feeling was that if you could spend one hour every week on the net, you surely had an hour here and there to take the basic FEMA courses. With all due respect to KJ7GQ and those expressing similar frustration, I simply say this: in the time it took to write your letter, you could have completed one of those courses."
Jim Russell, NQ5L, ARRL South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator, had this to say: "I sympathize with the sentiments of KJ7GQ about excessive requirements, but the simple fact is that our served agencies, especially government units, have adopted NIMS and ICS as a way of doing business. At least that's the state of affairs in Texas. The key question for ARES members and leaders is how to adopt training and certification requirements that encourage membership and satisfy the requirements of our served agencies at the same time.
"The entire ARRL West Gulf Division (North Texas, West Texas, South Texas, and Oklahoma Sections) has adopted a common training standard that aligns with NIMS and ICS, and is consistent with the COM-L and COM-T (Communications Leader and Communications Technician) designations and helps in quickly identifying which ARES member has completed both certain training requirements and demonstrated certain basic skills. ARES leaders are consequently able to match served agency requirements against their membership roles when assigning members to duties. It makes it possible for interested hams to serve at whatever level suits their personal interest." Details of the training standard are available at the South Texas ARRL web site www.arrlstx.org
Putting the debate aside for a moment, let's now turn to drafting a list of courses that arguably are must-do's for any ARES member. CPR and Basic Life Support, taught by the American Heart Association http://www.heart.org and the American Red Cross www.redcross.org should be at the top of everyone's list. First Aid should also be included. CPR and First Aid are at the heart of any response to an emergency or disaster, especially as the trend in emergency management and focus is now on micro-response; i.e., the individual citizen as first responder to his family and neighbor. There should be little debate about the critical significance of these courses.
Introduction to CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), FEMA IS-317, features six modules with topics that include Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations and Search and Rescue. IS-317 can be taken by anyone interested in CERT. However, to become a CERT volunteer, one must complete the classroom training offered by a local government agency such as the emergency management agency, fire or police department. www.citizencorps.fema.gov/cert/IS317/
The CERT program is the new framework for training of the citizen as first responder. The concept of sheltering in place, or sheltering somewhere in the neighborhood like a school, dovetails with responding in place, or responding to a neighborhood rallying point or house or public building by walking to it. It is where the focus of ARES should be now and into the future. Gone with the wind are the days when ARES operators would drive away from their families, homes and neighbors to distant EOCs and shelters in potentially hazardous conditions - the traditional ARES model. "Deploy in place" is the new model. The learning modules contained in the CERT course are essential for any citizen, neighbor . . . and ARES member/radio operator.
ICS 100, Introduction to the Incident Command System, describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). http://emilms.fema.gov/IS100b/index.htm
ICS 200 is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS-200 provides training on and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the ICS. http://emilms.fema.gov/IS200b/index.htm
ICS-700.B Introduction to the National Incident Management System. NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. http://emilms.fema.gov/IS700aNEW/index.htm
IS- 800.B: National Response Framework, An Introduction. The course introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the National Response Framework. http://emilms.fema.gov/IS800B/index.htm
There is just no getting around the FEMA mini-courses necessary for an agency to be NIMS-compliant. For ARES to be allowed to serve these agencies, its operators must be NIMS-compliant, and that means they must take and pass the courses listed above. Federal grant monies to agencies hinge on agencies' being "with the program."
Introduction to Emergency Communication (EC-001, ARRL). This course was recently revised and is designed to provide the ARES bedrock of basic knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer. The course has 6 sections with 29 lesson topics. More information can be found at www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog
The ARRL Introduction to Emergency Communication course provides the knowledge necessary for any ARES member: emergency and disaster response communications guidelines and principles; working with served agencies, radio-communication modes and best practices; safety; et cetera. This course is at the heart of the ARES program.
Out of all the mail I received on this issue, my favorite was the letter from Christensen. He said "I became a radio amateur with the prime purpose of being able to take care of my family and my community in the event of an emergency." He went on to discuss his local program, and training regimen. Bravo, Mr. Christensen. Right on! He is the role model of the ARES member of today and into the future. -- K1CE
Book Review: Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG)
The National Emergency Communications Plan (July 2008) defines interoperability as "the ability of emergency responders to communicate among jurisdictions, disciplines, and levels of government, using a variety of frequency bands, as needed and as authorized." That definition leads off the new publication from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communication -- Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG), "a collection of technical reference and training information to aid trained volunteer Auxiliary Communications (AuxComm) personnel, and the agencies they serve, to supplement local emergency communications when AuxComm support is requested." To DHS-OEC, "AuxComm" is an all-inclusive term used to describe the many organizations and personnel that provide various types of communications support to emergency management, public safety, and other government agencies," especially Amateur Radio, ARES, RACES, et cetera. In a discussion of AuxComm towards the end of the manual: "AuxComm services are typically voluntary, and are commonly provided by amateur radio communicators [emphasis added], but may also include other volunteer organizations which have established relationships with the government organizations they support." It involves operators working in a Communications Unit under a Communications Leader (COM-L) in the Incident Command System, among other environments.
I reviewed the AUXFOG recently, and would highly recommend this publication to ARES members for understanding and operating in the overall radio-communications environment in an emergency or disaster situation. It goes a long way towards helping us in what the government means in terms of interoperability as described above.
The AUXFOG is a very readable publication not bogged down in dense jargon, and starts off appropriately with a discussion of family safety, every individual's first responsibility in any incident. Other safety issues are discussed appropriately.
A brief discussion of the rules and regulations of the various radio services that would likely be active in the emergency communications function are discussed, with links to the government's regs included. Next comes the subject of Deployment, Mobilization, and Demobilization, which includes an excellent few paragraphs on activation etiquette. This etiquette piece should be re-printed in every ARES training manual!
There are ample opportunities throughout the publication to add customized information such as Communications Unit and Emergency Management contacts, notes, etc. Basic communications systems are described including government telephone services such as GETS and WPS for emergency and high-priority calls, formats for text messages for the various cellular providers, and NOAA weather broadcast frequencies and protocols.
A large Appendix C covers the Amateur Radio bands, with a section on best bands for conditions and propagation distances required. Forms are included for communicators to enter information on their own frequencies, nets, tactical call signs, etc., for their local and regional environments. Similar forms are included for GMRS, FRS, MURS, and Industrial/Business services for similar purposes.
Frequencies and bands in the UHF and VHF spectrum for National Interoperability channels for law enforcement, fire, general public safety, and EMS are referenced in easy-to-read tables. NOAA "All-Hazards" code words for incidents and warnings such as radiological hazard warning, and Shelter-In-Place warnings, are included in another chart.
Other tables include: Aviation and marine frequencies and band plans; MURS and CB frequencies/channels; business frequencies; railroad frequencies and channels; search and rescue frequencies and channels.
Incident Command System, and National Response Framework information covers the various Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) (Communications is ESF#2).
The AUXFOG features an excellent section (with construction tips, diagrams and photos) of simple-to-install, effective field-expedient antennas for deployment in the field: VHF ground plane antennas; a VHF coaxial sleeve antenna; and dipole antennas for HF.
The IARU's Center-of-Activity frequencies for emergency communications are listed in another table. Emergency Center of Activity frequencies are generally known frequencies agreed upon across multiple IARU regions. These frequencies are points of activity where operators may be expected to congregate and/or operate in times of emergency.
A host of other appendices provide technical specifications and standards for such things as connectors, cable properties, coded squelch systems, and network access codes (for P25, for example).
General information and frequency channels for appropriate other radio services is included: GMRS, MURS, FRS are covered. These are services that can also be employed by auxcomm operators in a Communications Unit or in any operating environment.
Incident Command System
There is an easy-to-understand, simple and graphical overview of the Incident Command System; especially significant is the Communications Unit, of course. A diagram of the CU puts its pieces in place for understanding it a glance. A basic discussion of Communications Unit positions and of Auxiliary Communications (AuxComm) basis and purpose is presented, and is important for radio amateurs to be aware of, as we are considered the primary service to be employed under the function.
The AUXFOG lists the various ICS forms, and reproduces the communications-related forms, with ample room for notes. The ITU phonetic alphabet, a page of links to emergency/disaster communications resources, and a glossary of terms round out this publication.
This excellent publication was the work of many radio amateurs, including ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U. It will download as a PDF. Get it here. - K1CE
K1CE For a Final: The FEMA Independent Study Courses
Much of the mail I received this past month seemed to cast the FEMA Independent Study courses as necessary irritations and bureaucratic hurdles to jump over. That is simply the wrong way of looking at these courses. Look a little deeper, and you will find that there is a wealth of incredible and fascinating information in many FEMA courses that is worth pursuing on its own merits. Check out the catalog of courses that can be taken and enjoyed! They are exceptionally well done. I've taken many of them now, and frankly, they are simply fun to do. There is a goldmine of information and courses that make for perfect "continuing education" for ARES members! The FEMA courses can be found at http://training.fema.gov/IS/
ARRL Public Service and ARES Resources
The Public Service Communications Manual - the PSCM is the standard, basic guide to ARES and NTS information, training and protocols.
ARRL Public Service forms - Various forms for ARES, NTS and ARRL Field Organization activities. Includes:
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