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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
June 18, 2014
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


ARRL Named NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™

The ARRL has been accepted as a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador initiative is an effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation's readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events. As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, the ARRL is committing to work with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather. Local ARES groups can register and participate as well.

The NOAA Weather-Ready Nation website can be found here. More information can be found at this site: Be a Force of Nature

Follow the program on Twitter @NWS. - Thanks, Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager


The Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, Emergency Management (OCEM) has been awarded a grant of nearly $3700 from Operation Round Up and the ECE Foundation that will allow the agency to purchase an Amateur Radio-based location-tracking system for SKYWARN storm spotters. ARRL Oklahoma Section Emergency Coordinator Mark Conklin, N7XYO, and several area radio amateurs helped county emergency managers in planning the project. More info here. -- ARRL


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Boulder County, Colorado ARES Supports Bolder Boulder 10K

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, more than 52,000 runners and an additional 60,000 spectators gathered for the annual Bolder Boulder 10K race on the streets of Boulder, Colorado. This 10K race, the largest of its kind, is open to anyone who registered and is run in waves beginning with the first wave of wheelchair contestants starting off at 6:55 AM followed by waves of "Citizen" runners. There are 90 waves in all with the Elite 10K runners, many of whom are from around the world, finally taking to the course around 11:15 AM. This meant that the Boulder County, Colorado ARES (BCARES) ATV team had to be in place before 6:30 AM and for many, the morning started at "Oh Dark Thirty" in order to pick up the large amount of equipment needed and to reach their ATV vantage points before the crowds showed up.

All BCARES operators were on site and on the air transmitting seven separate ATV pictures to the Incident Command Post before the first wave of contestants ever approached the starting line. Supporting the Bolder Boulder and their served agencies -- the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, the Boulder City Police Department and the Colorado University Police Department -- were 14 Amateur Radio operators from BCARES. Unlike most running and bicycle race events, the primary mission for BCARES was not to support aid stations or SAG wagons and/or supplement race course communications, but to provide Amateur TV, or ATV as is commonly known, to the Incident Command Post. This medium provided these agencies with unprecedented situational awareness from the starting line in downtown Boulder to the finish line at the Colorado University Stadium.

BCARES personnel relied on their vast experience, ATV skills and state of the art ATV equipment obtained over the years from responding to emergencies like the devastating 2010 Four-Mile Canyon fire and the 2013 Colorado floods that hit Boulder County. ATV has been one of the primary tools in the toolbox employed by BCARES for over 20 years. They are recognized as being the "Go To" ATV experts within the State of Colorado and routinely offer their personnel, services and equipment to the rest of the Colorado ARES groups around the state as needed.

The members of BCARES, which represents Boulder and Broomfield counties as Region 1, District 3 of Colorado ARES, used a combination of ATV, UHF, microwave frequencies and social networking technologies to share their live ATV pictures between sites over great distances during the Bolder Boulder. Coordination of the

Jack Hess, K3UGR, ATV cameraman (photo courtesy WM0G)

ATV camera operators and communications to the ICP was effected through a combination of VHF simplex and repeater frequencies. Four cameras were on the air using traditional 70cm ATV transmitters and camcorders. These cameras are backpack mounted and allow the operators to roam freely and be

in any place that they may be needed. An additional two cameras were employed on 1.2 GHz from the start line with their pictures being relayed to the ICP via a 5.8 GHz microwave link to a repeater located south of Boulder and relayed to the ICP. Rounding out the cache of ATV cameras was a seventh PTZ remote-controlled camera that was hard-wired to the video distribution box at the ICP. All of the seven pictures were simultaneously being recorded via SD memory sticks on the cameras and/or on solid state DVRs within the video distribution boxes. The combination of all seven camera pictures was distributed to the various agencies at the ICP via various flat screen monitors. Additionally, a video link was uploaded via uStream that was shared on the Internet with our State ARES Management Team and offered to the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director and ARES managers at ARRL HQ to view as well. The live uStream video streaming link was also embedded into the BCARES web page for the rest of our BCARES personnel to monitor from their homes.

After the event was over, there were a few medical emergencies noticed in the stands where people had gathered, most likely from heat exhaustion. Remote BCARES ATV operators were able to find the incidents quickly and get their cameras on them. The incident management team at the ICP was able to view the response by their EMS teams on their monitors and follow them through to the eventual evacuation of the patients. These videos will also serve as great training aids for future EMS teams. - Thanks, Jack Ciaccia, WMØG, ARRL Colorado Section Manager


Reports: Hospital ICS Protocol Released with Job Sheet for Amateur Radio

The fifth addition of the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) 2014 was just published. This document sets forth protocols for incident command responses to disasters associated with hospitals -- internally or within the community. Click here to view the document.

New for 2014 is a specific Job Action Sheet for the Emergency Amateur Radio Operator. The Job Action Sheet is based on the one implemented by the Western Washington Medical Services Team about a decade ago and updated by the Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN). This document has now been formatted to meet HICS criteria and will serve as an excellent starting point for any Amateur Radio group supporting a hospital. Download it here.

Lisa Schoenthal, Chief, Disaster Medical Services Division, California Emergency Medical Services Authority, announced the public release of the Fifth Edition of the HICS, and said this conclusion of the multi-year revision process is the culmination of extensive national stakeholder input. The California EMSA thanked all participants in this endeavor that "exemplifies unprecedented collaboration among both public and private healthcare and emergency management partners from communities across the local, regional, state, and national levels. This HICS, Fifth Edition is offered to assist hospitals and the healthcare community nationwide with their emergency management goals." -- reported by Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, Westminster, California

[editor's note: The Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network has an excellent web site with hospital communications information. Mariotti reports "In my presentations (some are posted on the web site) I stress that hospital communications are not shelter or EOC or like any other communications -- hospitals already have patients that they are responsible for taking care of when the crisis starts. When they need a patient relocated, literally someone's life is at stake as a result of this communications activity. Even the basics of what information is required are unique. Hospital buildings do not move and the information that local government, health departments, etc, all want is the same so you can publish forms for use by all as part of planning." The webmaster also tracks Amateur Radio organizations that are devoted exclusively to supporting hospital communications.]


CERT Volunteers: Download Disaster Reporter

A message from FEMA: A picture is worth a thousand words. As we kick off the 2014 Hurricane Season, help us highlight the CERT [Community Emergency Response Team] program and demonstrate your capacity as citizens and trained volunteers to provide accurate, on-the-ground situational awareness and augment the capabilities of professional responders during disasters.

As a CERT volunteer, you play an integral role in disaster reporting in your community. Administrator Fugate is calling upon CERT volunteers throughout the country, including you, to download the FEMA mobile app, which includes Disaster Reporter. Why should you use Disaster Reporter? Here are our top four reasons:

1. It provides FEMA responders, local emergency managers, CERT volunteers, and the public with greater visibility into disaster situations across the United States. This can help expedite emergency response efforts.

2. It provides a reliable source for viewing disaster events around the country.

3. It's a great free resource to download straight to your mobile phone.

4. Your support efforts in an impacted area will be displayed publicly on an online map.

Learn more about Disaster Reporter at and To download the FEMA app, please visit

In addition to the Disaster Reporter tool, the FEMA App also has preparedness tips, an interactive emergency kit checklist, recovery safety tips, open Red Cross Shelters, open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, and FEMA blog posts. The app is available for Android, Apple, and Blackberry. Don't forget to check the latest CERT newsletter for other great resources and stories. The latest edition is available at


TEMA AuxComm Spring Exercise in the History Books

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) held its annual AuxComm Spring exercise May 1-4, 2014 at the Tennessee Fire and Code Enforcements Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The scenario for the exercise was that a major cyber-attack had been launched against the US taking down the Internet and critical infrastructure and resulting in civil disturbance and casualties. Because the Internet was unavailable, all message traffic had to be passed by radio-only Winlink messages. [Winlink 2000 is a global system for sending and receiving e-mail formatted messages over radio, independent of the Internet, which makes it attractive to entities needing to send messages when disasters occur and the Internet is consequently down. Amateur Radio and MARS are heavily invested in this system.]

There were four primary objectives of the exercise: (1) Training on the use of the Winlink system in general and specifically on the use of radio-only message transmission. Training also was provided on the Incident Command System (ICS) and HF field antennas; (2) test and assessment of the Winlink radio-only message transmission capability and capacity when stressed with an intense traffic load; (3) test long-haul relaying of messages from distant states (including Washington and Hawaii) via HF radio relay; and (4) test interoperability between SHARES, military units, civilian agencies, NGOs and individual participants.

Approximately 90 attended the exercise. There were 15 Winlink stations on-site in operation simultaneously including stations in a dozen command/communication vehicles. Many agencies participated on-site including TEMA, the Tennessee Department of Health, the National and State Guard, CUSEC, American Red Cross, Arnold Air Force, FedEx, Bridgestone Emergency Response Team, and multiple county EMAs. In addition to on-site participants, many agencies and individuals exchanged Winlink messages within the exercise from off-site locations.

All objectives for the exercise were met and exceeded. Training was provided both on-site and in Jackson, Tennessee. More than 880 radio-only messages were reported to have been sent/received by on-site stations. In addition, more than 400 messages were reported for the conventional (Internet-linked) Winlink system. All received messages were reported with 100% accuracy. Long-haul message relaying worked well with messages originating as far away as Washington and Hawaii.

An additional burden was placed on the radio-only Winlink system by a major Winlink radio-only exercise being carried out concurrently in Texas. The HF footprint of the two tests had overlapped.

Automatic Relaying of Packet Messages via HF

A system was set up in the Williamson County EMA trailer to act as a combined packet and HF RMS (Regional Message Server). Messages were sent to this RMS via packet connections from local client stations, and the RMS automatically forwarded the messages via HF to other RMS. This demonstrated that a packet/HF RMS located in a position with good coverage can provide wide-area (nationwide) relaying of packet messages via HF.

Interoperability Results

On the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) network, multiple messages were exchanged between the Tennessee National and State Guard, various civilian government agencies, NGOs and individual MARS members. On the SHARES network, interoperability was demonstrated between multiple agencies. Since the MARS and SHARES networks use different RMSs and radio frequencies, messages were not directly transferred between MARS and SHARES stations; MARS/SHARES interoperability was achieved by having a joint communications center at the exercise. SHARES/MARS linking on Winlink could be accomplished easily if policy so dictates. - Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Winlink Development Team


Reports: National Hurricane Center Director Commends WX4NHC Ops, Test

The National Hurricane Center's Amateur Radio station WX4NHC operators conducted their annual on-the-air station test on May 31, 2014. This is the 34th year of volunteer public service by the WX4NHC group at the NHC. WX4NHC conducts this event each year in preparation for hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th.

The station and operators were tested on many frequencies and modes, including HF, VHF, UHF, HF WinLink, VHF/HF APRS, EchoLink/IRLP/All-Star, email and an on-line reporting form. All radio equipment and antennas performed well producing the most contacts made during this event in memory. Other equipment tests and operator training were conducted on new modes, and software was tweaked.

The WX4NHC test also provided good experience for Amateur Radio operators worldwide, but especially significant for those in hurricane prone areas, testing their stations' ability to contact WX4NHC should they need to during a hurricane. The test also provided a good opportunity for NWS office staff to become aware of the unique capabilities of Amateur Radio during severe weather and disaster communications when conventional communication modes fail.

For the first time, D-STAR/D-RATS reports were received at WX4NHC, which had been proposed during the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida this year by John Davis, WB4QDX, who organized and coordinated this effort. Although WX4NHC does not currently have a D-STAR radio at the station, 51 Surface Weather Reports via the D-RATS platform were received at WX4NHC. Operators are excited about the potential that D-STAR/D-RATS modes can produce hurricane surface reports in a similar format that is used at WX4NHC. These reports may some day fill in an important gap in surface data during a hurricane that could not be received on other modes.

WX4NHC made a total of 308 contacts in 9 hours of operations. The contacts ranged from local VHF/UHF stations in south Florida and the Florida Keys to international stations as far away as Guam. Contacts and surface reports were received from 25 US States, and countries, including Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, Curacao, Guam, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Contacts were also made with the National Weather Centers in Norman, Oklahoma; Broward and Marion counties, Florida EOCs; and the Guantanamo Military Base in Cuba.

Operators were pleased to communicate with Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, president of the Radio Club of Haiti, as well as Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH (FCC retired) who have both supported the efforts of WX4NHC for many years. Contact was also made with Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, FEMA Administrator, on EchoLink; thanks were expressed to him for his strong support of the Amateur Radio volunteers.

WX4NHC operators are also thankful for all SKYWARN volunteers nationwide for their continued efforts to help the NWS and NHC, and for the ARRL's help in publicizing this event as they have done for many years. Special thanks went to Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager. - Julio Ripoll, WD4R, WX4NHC Amateur Radio Assistant Coordinator celebrating 34 years at the National Hurricane Center

The Director of the National Hurricane Center commended the WX4NHC effort: "Thank you for conducting the test to make sure you're all ready for the season, and I appreciate everything you and the community do for us." -- Dr. Rick Knabb, Director, National Hurricane Center


Memorial Day Medical Emergency Supported by Massachusetts Amateurs

Amateurs in the Plymouth, Massachusetts area assisted with a medical emergency over the Memorial Day weekend. Ron Smith, N1PXX, radioed over the 146.685 MHz repeater that he needed help; Smith had pulled over on the side of the highway after he experienced a medical issue. Kevin O'Donnell, K1KOD, responded. Obtaining Smith's cell phone number, O'Donnell used both the radio and the cell phone to keep in contact with Smith while he called 911 and gave Smith's location to the State Police. He informed Smith of when the police and an ambulance were en route. However, initially the police drove by Smith's vehicle without stopping. David Ring, N1EA, also assisting, placed additional calls to the police, and emergency services located Smith and transported him to South Shore Hospital. The word is N1PXX is on the road to recovery. -- KB1EVY, ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section News


K1CE For a Final: Communications in Neighborhood Preparedness

Let's take a moment to look at how the radio amateur down the street can help support his or her neighborhood to meet its preparedness goals. A radio amateur is ideal to call a meeting of his neighbors because of his expertise and experience with communications, the first prerequisite for any successful resident endeavor. Flyers announcing a planning meeting and agenda can be dropped in mailboxes, followed up with telephone calls. A community center or even a neighbor's home can serve as the venue for the meeting. The initial meeting is an ice breaker for neighbors to get to know one another in the context of possibly relying on each other in a disaster response scenario. To start off the meeting, a review of the types of hazards that face the neighborhood and history of events in the past can set the tone and instill the gravity of the mission with attendees.

A roundtable discussion can be held with introductions of individual neighbors, noting their personal and professional experience, and interest in fulfilling preparedness functions. Initial assignments can be made, and then changed or modified in future meetings as necessary.

The radio amateur is the obvious choice to lead the communications function, and accordingly able to overcome the effects of isolation of the neighborhood in a post-disaster environment. Amateur Radio is the most versatile radio communication service available to the average citizen and neighborhood. The radio amateur is the most experienced in radio communications principles and practical applications.

The ARRL's Mike Corey, KI1U, says "there has been a lot of research on the issue of a lack of trust between the issuers of warnings and the public that receives them. Amateurs are a good way to bridge the trust issue as we can put warnings in terms that our neighbors can understand."

Communications functions also involve the immediate safety of life and property in the aftermath of a disaster, getting the neighbors to communicate with one another to activate the neighborhood plan and establish reliable communications with the outside world to convey situation reports, critical needs and delivery of critical supplies.

Health and welfare messages on behalf of neighborhood members can be transmitted to the outside world (which might be only a few blocks away) to concerned friends and family members. There is no underestimating the need for radio communications, not only for critical needs, but indeed for the morale of the potentially psychologically stressed, devastated neighborhood families.

The radio amateur could also maintain portable electrical generators and docking stations for rechargeable batteries, perhaps in his garage, for neighborhood use as required when normal power is out. Hams are experts in the use of alternative power sources.

Many radio amateurs are trained in search and rescue (SAR) techniques and protocols, and Amateur Radio has a longstanding history of serving searchers/rescuers with radio communications. SAR has been linked with Amateur Radio for decades. There are numerous environments for SAR, and one size does not fit all. The person in charge of this neighborhood function should be aware of, and trained specifically for, the kind of SAR environment he/she will face: urban SAR, for example. Communications for this function is critical, when neighbors are missing and potentially injured.

The neighborhood team concept can potentially save the lives and properties of some of the most important people you hold dear besides your family and friends - your neighbors. Amateur Radio is a critical component of the team's assets.-- K1CE

Next Month's ARRL Centennial Convention, Banquet and Public Service Forums -- See You There!

As noted in a previous issue, I am excited about attending next month'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 represent several of our national partners; Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications, National VOAD, National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, American Red Cross, and Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Confirmed Speakers:

Ted Okada, K4HNL, Chief Technology Officer - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Ralph Haller, N4RH, Chairman - National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC)

Keith Robertory, KG4UIR, National Disaster Services Technical Manager - American Red Cross (ARC)

James McGowan, Senior Director Strategic Initiatives - National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD)

Sid Caesar, NH7C, Chief - Division of Emergency Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

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! -- K1CE


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