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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
July 16, 2014
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARRL Centennial Convention Special Edition!

I hope to meet and greet many of you as readers (almost 40,000 subscribers now!) of the ARES E-Letter on Saturday, July 19, on the convention floor of the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford! I'll be there all day, starting off at the President's Breakfast with ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN. I'll have my Red Badge on - please stop me and say hello!


ARESLAX Northeast Reinvents Field Day for 2014

This year the Northeast District of ARESLAX (Los Angeles, California ARES), in cooperation with the Los Angeles Emergency Communications Team, reinvented Field Day. Instead of simply seeking to make contacts over the 24-hour operating period, the objective was to reach out and provide educational opportunities to both the general public and served entities.

As usual, Field Day 2014 was conducted on the campus of a served hospital. However, the specific location was moved from the roof of a parking structure (great for making contacts, but not very accessible) to a ground-level parking lot fronting a busy street. And instead of running as a "contest," Field Day was focused on emergency preparedness and communication. A number of hands-on activity stations, ranging from an introduction to Amateur Radio to digital communications to backup power sources, were located in the parking lot, along with HF, VHF/UHF and GOTA operating stations. A local CERT team staffed a booth to educate the public about emergency preparedness. Participants were engaged at all stations and asked lots of questions.

An adjacent conference facility was the location for two separate tracks comprising 13 hours of classroom education. One track was intended for representatives of served hospitals, providing in-service training related to critical backup communications during a disaster or other emergency. The second track provided members of the general public with an introduction to Amateur Radio, emergency communications and related topics. A number of participants earned their first Amateur Radio license or upgraded at an exam session.

More than 100 members of the public participated in the activities. Many of these individuals were affiliated with local CERT teams or similar organizations and had little previous exposure to Amateur Radio. ARESLAX Northeast District members participating in the reinvented Field Day found these activities much more rewarding than calling "CQ Field Day" for 24 hours and are looking forward to an even larger event next year.

Los Angeles Section of ARES

The Los Angeles Section of ARES (ARESLAX) encompasses all of Los Angeles County. Covering more than 4000 square miles, and with almost 10 million residents, ARESLAX is the largest ARES Section, and the only one comprised of a single county. There are more than 22,000 Amateur Radio operators licensed in Los Angeles County.

As its primary mission, ARESLAX provides backup and emergency communications support to the Los Angeles County Medical Alert Center and almost 70 hospitals throughout the County, including virtually all "911 receiving" hospitals (those with emergency room facilities). ARESLAX is recognized as a formal component of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency Emergency Communication Plan.

Los Angeles Emergency Communications Team

The Los Angeles Emergency Communications Team (LAECT) is a group of dedicated individuals committed to training and education in all aspects of emergency preparedness, management and response, with an emphasis on emergency communications. LAECT partners with cities, community groups and other preparedness organizations to coordinate and provide practical preparedness and communications training throughout Southern California.


Field Day Over the Weekend; Real Thing on Monday

No sooner had Newton (Iowa) Amateur Radio Association (NARA) Emergency Coordinator Chuck Wagoner, KØWAG, stepped into the room housing the ham radio equipment at the Jasper County Law Enforcement Center on Monday, June 23, the lights went out. "The emergency generator kicked in immediately and the 9-1-1 center dispatchers didn't miss a beat during a windstorm," said Wagoner.
Members of NARA had set up operations on Friday at their new station at the EOC in the Armory Annex for Field Day. "We were set up to provide communications separately from the 9-1-1 Center and test for communications with the State EOC at Camp Dodge and with the National Weather Service in Johnston," said John Nelson, KØIO, NARA President. "During the Monday event, we exchanged SITREPs with the weather people and trained storm spotters provided the 9-1-1 dispatchers with water-over-the-road, flash flooding, branches/trees down blocking roadways or damaging power lines information." "If they needed the status of the condition of a certain area we would deploy an operator to check it out."

The Monday windstorm lasted just a few hours and normal power was restored quickly to the Law Enforcement Center. Wagoner secured the Jasper County Emergency Net and the Newton hams were released. - Chuck Wagoner, K0WAG, Newton Amateur Radio Association Emergency Coordinator


Orange County Hospital ARES Group's Field Day at Huntington Beach Hospital

The special ARES group the Hospital Disaster Support Communications Service (HDSCS) enjoyed a successful Field Day weekend at host Huntington Beach Hospital, reports EC and group leader April Moell, WA6OPS. She said that Field Day is a scheduled event at the hospital, so set up and operation is now like a well-oiled machine. "Hospital staff got exercised in deploying surge capacity tents and generators for our use. Engineering staff assisted and guided the HDSCS Field Day antenna team to locations on the roofs and stairwells to create the emergency antennas. Then HDSCS communicators and guests were on the air, Moell reported. 2014 is the first year all 50 states were contacted. Several hospital staff visited to learn more about how HDSCS assists in communications emergencies and the Orange County EMS Medical Director, Dr. Sam Stratton, W5AGX, came in at midnight to operate the radios. Check out the HDSCS website for pictures of the event.

More recently, HDSCS coordinators attended the monthly Orange County hospitals' disaster planning committee meeting. The recent National Disaster Medical System drill was reviewed: Hospitals had to go through the Amateur Radio activation procedures that they would use for real, which was important because it is different from what is done in a mass casualty incident. Also reviewed were network procedures and construction of messages that were sent to EMS, Camp Pendleton, and between hospitals. The hospitals' stated objective of using Amateur Radio as an alternate communications resource was met by those hospitals participating. -- April Moell, WA6OPS, HDSCS

[Editor's note: In a few areas of the country, hospitals have used the services of Amateur Radio operators at key communication points throughout their campuses to provide critical back-up communications. The pioneer and still leader of this function and groups is the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS), a group of 80 Amateur Radio operators who provide back-up internal and external communications for large (HDSCS supports all sizes) medical facilities in Orange County, California whenever normal communications are interrupted for any reason. In 2010, HDSCS celebrated its 30th year of service. HDSCS is a specialized unit of ARES and claims to be the first and largest ARES unit devoted solely to hospital support.

Their service was initiated after a phone outage at a large hospital in Fullerton in 1979 and the impressive response of Amateur Radio operators to that emergency. Beginning with seven at inception, the list of HDSCS-supported facilities has grown to include all of the acute care receiving hospitals in the county, plus other critical medical facilities.

Internal communications are provided among hospital departments, but also external communications with staff, suppliers and outside agencies (such as blood banks, Red Cross and county Emergency Medical Services) are vital in a disaster and are also provided by HDSCS. Most of the hospitals have installed dedicated rooftop VHF/UHF antennas and a few have installed Amateur Radio stations for HDSCS use. However, this equipment may not be available or accessible in disaster situations. Therefore, each HDSCS member is prepared to bring battery-operated personal equipment to provide both internal and external communications.]


Broadband-Hamnet Greatly Expands its Usefulness, Adds 5.8 GHz Support

Broadband-Hamnet is proud to announce a new firmware release, an update to the original Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS gear, and for the Ubiquiti firmware originally released for the 2.4GHz ham band this past February. With this release, Broadband-Hamnet now supports the Ubiquiti M5-series hardware, giving hams use of the 5.8 GHz band for mesh networking. Among the release's many new features are the ability to easily connect collocated nodes into clusters and to span the mesh across both ham bands. For more information and to download the firmware, please visit -- Jim Kinter, K5KTF, Webmaster, Broadband-Hamnet


Open Letter to the Winlink Team: Thanks from a Mariner

I wanted to drop the Winlink managers and operators a sincere note of thanks and gratitude for volunteering the use of your amateur radio equipment on the Winlink system. I am on a 45-foot sailboat nearly 1,000 miles offshore sailing in the Victoria-to-Maui race; one of 14 boats this year. It is our seventh day at sea. I am also the communications vessel for the fleet. We, and I'm sure a few other boats in our fleet with amateur operators have been connecting to your stations to access race vessel position info and vital wind and weather predictions. We have also had need to relay medical advice related to an injury on another boat and assist with another boat that had a catastrophic steering issue and is limping into San Francisco.
I cannot convey enough thanks for the comfort of hearing the Pactor modem connect to each of you with a clear strong signal. We connect with and reassure our relatives and friends ashore that we are safe and are enjoying ourselves and I share a daily journal of our experiences with about 500 people. If you wish to follow our daily journal, send an email to Dan Pearce at Again, many thanks from everyone aboard! -- Paul Michael, KD7JST,
Navigator, s/v Family Affair


GAREC 2014 Next Month in Alabama: Make Plans Now to Attend!

The ARRL Alabama Section and the Huntsville Hamfest Association are proud to announce that the 2014 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) Conference will return to Huntsville, Alabama August 14-15, next month! The conference will be held in connection with the 2014 ARRL Southeastern Division Convention/Annual Huntsville Hamfest. The Huntsville Hamfest will be held on Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17, at the Von Braun Convention Center in Huntsville.

The conference will focus on the application of advanced technologies in emergency communications. All interested Amateur Radio operators and professionals are invited to attend.

In 2005, the first Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) Conference was organized on the initiative of Seppo Sisatto, OH1VR in Tampere, Finland. Following the success of this event and the increased interest in international and regional cooperation on emergency communications, GAREC conferences established themselves as annual events.

For each conference, an organizing committee works together with a local host, and International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) representatives participate in the event. In its 2009 meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, the IARU Administrative Council defined the relationship between GAREC and IARU by adopting the following recommendations contained in the Statement of the GAREC-2009 Conference: "GAREC 2009 recommends that GAREC conferences should continue to be held in locations throughout the world to the extent possible and should maintain the character of GAREC as an informal meeting among representatives of IARU member societies and of Amateur Radio emergency communications groups within or outside of the respective National IARU Member Society, serving as a forum for the exchange of experience and as an advisory body for the work on emergency communications of the IARU."


Letters: More than One MARS Service

Great article last month on the TEMA exercise - thanks! Please note that all three MARS branches participated equally in this exercise. Army MARS, Navy MARS and Air Force MARS operators and managers all played a part in the success of the exercise. Also, the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Security Administration, National Coordinating Center for Communications Shared Resources site is:
Again, thanks! -- Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Winlink Network Administrator, Winlink Development Team; President, Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. (ARSFI)

[According to its website, the primary purpose of the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation is to provide for the formation, training, maintenance, and testing of volunteer licensed amateur radio emergency services and networks using state of the art communications technology. These services and networks to serve the general public by facilitating emergency, health, or welfare communication in times of disaster or other communications emergencies. - ed.]


K1CE For a Final

My personal history in ARES and emergency communications started with the relief effort of the Great Northeast Blizzard of '78 (see August 1978 QST for the reports). The storm occurred over February 5-7, 1978, and was described in the media as "the week the state stood still" in Rhode Island, and "awesome" after Massachusetts State Governor Michael S. Dukakis returned from his helicopter survey. Only a few snowstorms over the past century might compare to the February 1978 Great Northeast Blizzard.

I was home-bound like most citizens of eastern Massachusetts, but used my Drake TR-33C to check into the ARES and NTS nets on the Waltham 146.04/64 MHz repeater, relaying traffic and condition reports in Lexington, my hometown. I mostly listened to the activities that involved the Massachusetts State Civil Defense. It was an eye-opener into Amateur Radio as a public and emergency communications service, and was a catalyst for seeking my first job after graduating from college - a staff position at the ARRL Administrative Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. A dream job for every ham!

See you on the convention floor on Saturday of this week! - Rick, K1CE


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