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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
January 20, 2016
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


ARES Briefs, Links

First Geosynchronous Orbit Amateur Radio Payload Could Aid Disaster Communication (12/24/2015) -- AMSAT figure and Virginia Tech researcher Bob McGwier, N4HY, reports the Amateur Radio payload planned to go into geosynchronous orbit in 2017 will be like "a new ham band" for the Americas, available every hour of every day. McGwier said the satellite's geosynchronous orbit also makes it viable for emergency and disaster communication. AMSAT-NA announced in April that Amateur Radio would be a "hosted payload" on the geosynchronous satellite that Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of California is under contract to design, launch, and operate for the US government. More here.


Answering The Call To Serve In Historic Missouri Flooding

Amateur Radio operators put their skills to work during historic flooding in the greater St. Louis area earlier this month. ARES® volunteers from three counties contributed extensive time, talent and equipment to emergency efforts. According to Bill Grimsbo, N0PNP, District C Emergency Coordinator, "More than one hundred and seventy hours of volunteer service on the part of Amateur Radio volunteers working with response agencies were invested in District C during this emergency. These people commit their personal time as well as working regular hours at jobs that represent a cross section of America's workforce for the greater good of the community."

[According to the National Weather Service, a prolonged period of rainfall occurred from December 26 to December 28, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in a 50 to 75 mile wide swath from southwest Missouri through the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area and into central Illinois. Storm total rainfall for this range was six to 12 inches. The heavy rainfall led to life threatening flash flooding and historic river flooding. The rain in this event capped off the wettest year on record for St. Louis at 61.24". (The old record was 57.96" in 2008). - ed.]

More than 26 radio amateurs from St. Louis Metro ARES, St. Charles County ARES, Illinois Section ARES, and St. Louis and suburban radio club members worked with the American Red Cross in serving in excess of 19,400 meals and coordinating more than 640 overnight stays. ARES and club operators were asked to help coordinate communications among shelters in four counties and Red Cross headquarters. On average, the volunteers worked six to eight hour shifts using personal radio equipment while employing local repeaters maintained by area radio clubs to pass messages. They worked with shelter staff to fulfill the needs of hundreds displaced by severe flooding in the St. Louis area.

Much of the radio traffic was handled on a repeater maintained by the Monsanto Amateur Radio Association, a repeater that had been damaged by a lightning strike in August. Repairs were completed just weeks prior to the onset of flooding in the area.

"The Amateur Radio operators in the greater St. Louis area have

Christopher Barber, WX5CW, remotely configuring repeaters to link via the Internet. Jim Hart, KD0EUX, (standing) and Bob Rowland, K0RWR, operating at the Red Cross HQ. (photo courtesy N0MTI)

knowledge and equipment to connect any agency to another when in times of need," Steve Wooten, KC0QMU, St. Louis Metro ARES Emergency Coordinator said. "We can set up and be connected within an hour of responding to the call for assistance."

St. Charles County Division of Emergency Management also called on ARES in that county to execute road closure reconnaissance for emergency services. Volunteers also performed "windshield" damage assessments where they drove by hundreds of homes, surveying them for minor to catastrophic damage.

In a demonstration of solidarity in this disaster, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve County ARES organizations worked together, assisting the Ste. Genevieve County Emergency Management Agency with 24 hour walks to assess the condition of the critical levees that protect lives and property in Ste. Genevieve County.

More than 20 people died in the historic flooding. Hundreds were displaced from their homes as rivers, streams and lakes overflowed banks and levees. Wastewater treatment facilities were overwhelmed and some drinking water treatment facilities were shut down. President Obama issued a Federal Disaster Declaration and the Federal Highway Administration pledged $1 million for emergency highway repairs. -- Janelle Haible, N0MTI, St. Louis (Missouri) Metro ARES, Public Information Officer

ARES® Supports Major Flood Response in Pacific Northwest

Once again, the Centralia area in southwest Washington State was on Mother Nature's target list for December rains and local flooding. The week of December 2-8 brought continuous rain to the Pacific Northwest with very heavy rains on Monday, December 7th. Three major rivers -- the Chehalis, the Skookumchuck and the Newaukum -- quickly reached flood stage. The City of Centralia opened its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Tuesday, December 9, to get ahead of the potentially devastating flood waters. By 5 PM Tuesday, the Centralia ARES team was activated on a 24 hour basis. During hours of darkness, team members monitored the EOC Amateur Radio systems and helped set up the remainder of the EOC for a full scale response on Wednesday.

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 9th, two local creeks -- China Creek and Salzer Creek -- overflowed their banks and inundated the Centralia downtown area with water, before the major rivers had reached flood stage. As a result of the Incident Action Plan issued at 8 AM Wednesday, ARES team

Flooding in southwestern Washington State prompted ARES response. (KD7OWN photo)

members began the second phase of their response duties, performing "windshield surveys" to determine the extent and depth of water in each residential area in the city. Additionally, teams monitored selected high water points to provide eyes on the scene information on how fast flood waters were rising. Throughout the day, hams reported conditions block by block, response area by response area to the EOC and Incident Commanders.

Late in the day on Wednesday, the area caught a break when the rains slowed and then stopped. By late Wednesday evening, even though the rivers were still climbing to flood stage, emergency managers could breathe a sigh of relief as it was clear the local flooding was not going to be the disaster we've experienced before when Interstate 5 was closed for days due to water over its roadway. Area wide, several dangerous landslides occurred and the Hwy 12 over White Pass to Eastern Washington was closed as the road was washed away in four locations. This pass will potentially remain closed for weeks or even months as snow on the pass hinders roadway repairs.

In all, the ARES team deployed 75% of its members totaling just over 70 volunteer hours for the community. Each flood is different from the last. Centralia ARES has worked through four major floods since 2007 and with localized flooding almost every November or December. The ARES team continues to refine its response techniques, drill on flood responses and work with its served agencies to shape the way it provides disaster information to the EOC. Flexibility has allowed the ARES team to be useful in several different directions as we continue to serve our small community. -- Bob Willey, KD7OWN, Emergency Coordinator, Centralia Amateur Radio Emergency Service

GlobalSET 2015 is a Wrap, with Lessons Learned

More than three dozen countries took part in the 2015 Global Simulated Emergency Test (GlobalSET) last month, organized by IARU Region 1 and designed in part to measure the disaster readiness of Amateur Radio. IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator Greg Mossop, G0DUB, pointed out that the 2015 event differed from other GlobalSETs held since 2006, which emphasized message handling and setting up stations in the field.

"The IARU emergency communications coordinators decided that the best way to achieve this would be to have an availability or 'call-out' exercise," Mossop said. "It asked all countries with emergency communications groups to contact their members and ask them how quickly they could get on the air if required." The start of the exercise was not announced in advance but propagated via a variety of channels, including e-mail and social media. IARU regional coordinators chose December 18 as being clear of most social and cultural events. A time limit of up to 48 hours was set for potential responding organizations to complete the local callout exercise and submit results via a web form.

The survey results covered an estimated 8466 members worldwide, of which 2048 reported they could be available in less than 1 hour.

"This exercise occurred on a normal business day in many countries," Mossop said. "An availability rate of 20-30 percent of stations is very good and does seem reasonable as a planning assumption for future exercises."

Mossop said the exercise identified a need to revise or improve alerting procedures. "Where possible a mixture of methods should be used for alerting members with automatic feedback of message delivery or the response," he said, adding that reliance on any single system, such as e-mail, was not the best approach. Read more. -- Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC; ARRL Letter

West Central Florida ARES/ACS Group Learns in SKYWARN Course

Largo, Florida - Private citizens, amateur operators and CERT team members gathered last month at the new Pinellas County EOC for a SKYWARN training class. Pinellas County is west of Tampa, Florida, with a population of almost a million, exposed to severe tropical weather on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Its county seat is Clearwater, and its largest city is St. Petersburg. The class was hosted by the Pinellas County ACS/ARES unit, along with their sponsoring agency, the Pinellas County Emergency Management agency. The Pinellas County ARES and ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service) are comprised of Amateur Radio operators who provide support to government and other agencies as needed.

The class boasted 100 attendees, and was taught by Dan Noah, NOAA Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Ruskin, Florida National Weather Service office. The class was welcomed to the new Pinellas County EOC by Emergency Manager Sally Bishop, who said in part, "This effort on the part of our ACS group netted the largest Spotter training class that Ruskin National Weather Service has ever had. We are grateful for the community service provided by the Spotters as it is a vital piece of the process that takes place between the Weather Service and Emergency Management to ensure the community is warned and as ready as possible for weather events."

Noah said "SKYWARN is a program sponsored by your National Weather Service (NWS) consisting of trained weather spotters who provide reports of hazardous weather to help in the warning process. SKYWARN spotter reports provide vital 'ground truth' to the NWS. These reports serve the NWS mission of protecting life and property from the adverse impacts of severe weather. Each year our Spotters donate their time and/or equipment to help the NWS in the severe weather warning process."

Clayton Parrott, KJ4RUS, Pinellas County ARES/ACS Radio Officer and Emergency Coordinator said "We are helping our citizens become more aware of weather related events such as tornados, lightning, and now the threat of El Nino by providing them with preparedness tools such as this SKYWARN training. In doing this, we help them to be better prepared for severe weather related events in their communities."

There are no prerequisites to become a SKYWARN spotter, but spotters must be 18 years of age or older to receive a SKYWARN certification and a spotter ID number.

Training included what to look for when reporting weather, what to report, how to estimate hail size, wind speed and the format to use, i.e., "TEL," which means Time, Event, Location. Since El Nino will be a major weather factor weather for the next few months, Noah detailed some of the added risks for Florida.

When asked about the effect of El Nino on weather in Florida, Noah replied "El Nino, the warming of the waters in the tropical Pacific, naturally occurs every 2 to 7 years. During an El Nino, Florida has an increased risk of severe weather and flooding from January through April as the upper level jet stream changes its path from north of Florida to crossing central Florida. This allows environmental conditions to become more favorable for severe weather more often. There will be about seven or so nights this winter and spring where people will want to pay extra attention to the weather as it moves through their area." Noah suggested having multiple ways to receive tornado warnings, including NOAA Weather Radio and smart phone Apps. -- Kevin Poorman, KC4VT, Public Information Officer, Pinellas County, Florida, ARES/ACS Public Service Communications

Winter Field Day at End of Month

Winter Field Day is held annually on the last full weekend of January. This month, it will be held January 30-31, 1700Z-1700Z. The Winter Field Day Association (WFDA) is a group of amateurs who sponsor this event. From their website, they believe that emergency communications skills, practice and training in a winter environment is as important as the preparations and exercising performed in the more benign seasons. Winter conditions pose special environmental challenges to operators in the field. WFDA's stated goal is to "help enhance your skills and ready you for all environmental conditions found in the US and Canada during the spring, summer, fall, and winter." For rules, click here. Contact WFDA here. -- Winter Field Day Association

Northern Indiana Hams Activate NWS Office for SKYWARN™ Recognition Day

Fourteen operators from various northern Indiana Amateur Radio clubs collaborated to activate the National Weather Service office in North Webster for the 17th annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) on December 5, 2015. When Michael Lewis, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the Northern Indiana NWS office, asked for a radio club to organize the event, the Fort Wayne Radio Club accepted the task. Jim Moehring, KB9WWM, District 3 ARES DEC, served as the point of contact for volunteers to register. For security purposes at the NWS office, all volunteer operators were required to pre-register for operating time slots to gain access to the facility.

Setup began at 2030 UTC on December 4. The set up team installed a custom made bracket to one of the parking lot light poles, which served as the common mounting point for three end-fed antenna matching boxes. The end-fed antennas have demonstrated their effectiveness and ease of installation in several other field operations. 20-meter and 40-meter tuned end-fed wires were stretched to conveniently located 30 foot tall light poles. Ropes were lifted over the light poles using an extended painter's pole. This avoided the hassles that are associated with air cannons and slingshot projectiles for such placements. A multiband Chameleon EMCOMM II end-fed antenna was placed over a third light pole using the same technique. A dual-band aluminum J-pole was placed 20 feet in the air on a telescoping aluminum mast mounted in a heavy-duty tripod base. Coax was run from the four antennas to a 4" diameter pipe pass-through in the wall of the NWS office directly into the operations conference room.

The entire four antenna setup was completed before dusk at 2215 UTC. Three HF stations and one VHF station were quickly connected to the coax with time to spare before the 0000 UTC December 5 SKYWARN Recognition Day start time. The Northern Indiana NWS was activated for the full 24 hour period of the event. HF propagation ebbed and flowed during the event, but didn't dampen the spirit of the operators. Many contacts were made using IRLP via the K9DEW repeater outside Warsaw. The repeater owner/trustee, Dewey Thrasher, K9DEW, graciously permitted extended operation on his 145.13 MHz repeater IRLP node. Many NWS offices were connected to the IRLP Eastern Reflector during the event.

The final QSO count of 181 total contacts included 46 other NWS offices. Some offices were contacted on multiple bands. Approximately 2/3 of the QSOs were with individual hams not affiliated with NWS offices.

The Northern Indiana NWS SKYWARN Recognition Day operation succeeded with both goals: (1) Demonstrate communications continuity between NWS offices when usual means are overloaded or non-functioning in a disaster; and (2) Promote goodwill and positive public relations between amateur operators and the National Weather Service. Following the event, Michael Lewis sent congratulations to all the operators who supported the Northern Indiana operation along with a certificate of appreciation from the NWS. - ARRL Indiana Section Newsletter, December 2015

Letters: HOA Embraces Amateur Radio for Emergencies

A new club has formed in Gainesville, Virginia -- the Heritage Hunt Hams. Heritage Hunt is a gated, 55 plus community of 1800 homes near the intersection of Highway 66 and Highway 29, about 30 miles west of Washington DC. Two dozen amateurs participate in an annual emergency exercise for the community. Eighty trained emergency volunteers (many of whom are doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, and military officers) participate in the same exercise. The hams are the primary source of communication. The HOA has purchased radios, power supplies and 2 meter/440 MHz antennas for four locations, supported by emergency power. The group's amateurs offer support to the Prince William ARES organization for emergencies at the western end of the county. -- Dr. Tim Tatum, K6SLK/4, Gainesville, Virginia

Tips for Beginning Net Control Operators

Here in northwest Ohio, we have acquired many new hams and encourage them to operate as net control station (NCS) for various routine nets to gain them experience, providing us with a pool of competent net controllers in the event of an emergency/disaster. Here are some of the basic tips we convey to our novice net control stations for a smoothly running net:

· Get a glass of water or something to drink.

· Make yourself comfortable. Sit in a good location with plenty of room on a desk or table to write.

· Have a good writing instrument and a back-up along with an extra piece of paper in case you need to jot down notes.

· Take your time; go at your own pace. Remember, you are in control of the net and the frequency.

· Don't worry about making mistakes; there are no mistakes to be made.

· To handle the crowd that is trying to check in, you will develop your own way.

· Stop stations from checking in ("Let's hold it for a minute") until you are caught up.

· Weak stations and stations who give their call signs too fast, are always a problem -- skip them at first. Go back later for repeats.

· Write your log as you see fit. You are the one that has to read it.

· Headphones are a good idea -- they help you focus on what you are hearing and help keep you from getting distracted.

As I mentioned before, there are no mistakes, only experience. When you've finished the net that is what you will have. -- Steve Bellner, W8TER, Maumee, Ohio

Sacramento EC Recognized for Past Service

At the January 9, 2016, Sacramento County (California) ARES Training Class held at Metro Fire District Station 106, past Sacramento County ARES Emergency Coordinator John Staples, KI6ZWW, received a plaque "in appreciation for all of his time and hard work spent to improve Sacramento County ARES and RACES during 2012-2015." District 3 EC Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, and Sacramento County Assistant EC Vince Cracchiolo, KI6NHP, presented the award on behalf of all members of Sacramento County ARES/RACES and the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services.

Sacramento County ARES officials held its first training meeting for 2016 on January 9, at the Metro Fire Training Center Station 106 in Sacramento. Training was based on an Emergency Communications course, which is part of the Disaster Deployment Core Training. For more information, and course materials, click here. -- ARRL Sacramento Section News

See Something, Say Something

Amateur Radio plays a significant role in communication before, during and after local crisis but we are always communicating so we may be the first to see and hear things of a suspicious nature. The nature of our community outreaches and partnerships allow us to quickly communicate as a team. Let's help keep our nation safe and secure by keeping a watchful eye and ear for potential threats. Find additional information on the Homeland Security website at <> and contact local law enforcement authorities directly to report suspicious activities. To learn more about identifying suspicious activities, see the DHS website. Be Safe and Help Protect Our Safety. - ARRL Maryland-DC Section News

ARES in 2015
Based on reports submitted by ARRL Section Emergency Coordinators, with 33 out of 71 sections reporting in, here's what we know about the state of ARES in 2015:
Total ARES Members: 2015 -- 17,756 2014 -- 10,471
Total ARES Nets: 2015 -- 10,927 2014 -- 8,786
ARES Nets with NTS Liaison:
2015 -- 1,883 (17%) 2014 -- 1,517 (17%)
Total ARES Events: 2015 -- 24,024 2014 -- 18,128
Total Drills, Training and Test Events:
2015 -- 20,242 (84%) 2014 -- 15,475 (85%)
Total Public Service Events:
2015 -- 2,923 (12%) 2014 -- 1,858 (10%)
Total Emergency Operations Events:
2015 -- 859 (3.5%) 2014 -- 795 (4%)
Total Volunteer Hours: 2015 -- 232,093 2014 -- 219,743
Volunteer Value ($19 x Total Volunteer Hours):
2015 -- $4,409,767 2014 -- $4,175,117
Sections Reporting: 2015 -- 33 2014 -- 33
Inactive Sections
(sections that submitted no reports
in a calendar year): 2015 -- 38 2014 -- 38


While these numbers are impressive, they also show a clear problem - 38 ARRL Sections did not submit a report during 2015. In fact, for some it has been several years since a report has been received. It isn't too late though! SEC monthly reports for December 2015 may be submitted until January 31, 2016. These numbers only come from the SEC Monthly Report (FSD-96). This form provides ARRL HQ the overall picture of ARES in a section. The information used to complete this form comes from the local and district emergency coordinators; that is why it is critical for EC's and DEC's to report to their SEC each month.
It is also worth noting that three sections, Eastern Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Dakota, had 100% reporting from their respective SECs in 2015. These SECs as well as those submitting at least 9 monthly reports will be thanked with a special gift from ARRL HQ.
When our national partners ask about ARES, numbers are important! The only way we can count what ARES is doing in your section is by hearing from the SEC (or in a few cases the SM). ECs and DECs, make sure you submit your reports each month. SECs make sure to report to headquarters! The last thing we want to do is report to a partner that ARES is inactive in a particular section. Turn in those reports and be counted! -- Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager, ARRL HQ
Maritime Mobile Service Network NCS Relays Distress Call
On January 11, 2016, at approximately 1520 hours UTC, an unknown operator reported on 14.300 MHz, that a maritime in distress was heard on 14.313 MHz and that no one was assisting the vessel. Upon hearing the call, Maritime Net Control Station William Sturridge, KI4MMZ, responded to the frequency and received the Mayday call from Harold Hilman, K6RTD, aboard the sailing yacht "Second Wind." Hilman reported that his vessel was approximately 85 nautical miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas, which is off the tip of the Baja peninsula. Hilman advised that his 37 foot sailing vessel had lost its sails, solar power and its dinghy boat was set adrift. The winds were reported to be in excess of 20 knots.
Sturridge notified the United States Coast Guard in Alameda, California and connected with Coast Guard Chief Sawanka. Chief Sawanka was then put in direct contact with the vessel in distress via a patch provided by Sturridge at 1542 hrs. It was reported that the United States Coast Guard ultimately notified the Mexican Coast Guard who was reported to be responding to the location to assist the ailing vessel.
Dealing with maritime emergencies is not unusual for the Maritime Mobile Service Network. The net's regular operational hours are 1700 to 0200 UTC on 14.300 MHz but it's not unusual for Sturridge to listen at all other hours. In this case, not only did KI4MMZ listen but he responded to the frequency where the vessel was reporting the emergency. Quick and efficient thinking led to a quick response.
Sturridge is no stranger to emergency maritime rescues and has assisted in many past rescues. He was recently recognized by the United States Coast Guard with a Public Service Commendation Award on July 15, 2014 for his many years of service. source -- Rene Stiegler, K4EDX, Net Manager

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