Register Account

Login Help

ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
February 17, 2016
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


ARES® Briefs, Links

IARU President Touts Amateur Radio's Relevance in Emergency Communication (2/8/2016); Ohio SEC Hoping to Expand "NVIS Antenna Day" Activity this Year (1/29/2016); FEMA Issues Call for Youth Council Members (1/29/2016); ARES® Volunteers Help to Distribute Water in Ohio Community with Lead-Tainted Water (1/28/2016); ARES® Volunteers Support Major Flood Responses (1/27/2016); Hams Turn Out to Help as Massive Snowfall Stuns Several States (1/25/2016)

Noah Goldstein, KB1VWZ, operates the WX1BOX station at the NWS office, Taunton, Massachusetts for the Blizzard of 2016. (photo courtesy Rob Macedo, KD1CY)

ARES/Media Hits

ARES® in Emergency Management Magazine

Ken Reid, KG4USN, wrote an excellent article, published in Emergency Management magazine online on the subject of how emergency management agencies can work with ARES® groups. Read the article here.

ARES® and High Def TV News

Colorado Section Manager Jack Ciaccia, WM0G, reported an article in TV Technology News on radio amateurs involvement in High Definition TV experimentation used in ARES. Read the article here.

New ARRL/Red Cross MoU Signed

The ARRL and the American Red Cross have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The document, signed in January, succeeds one agreed to in 2010; it will remain in place for the next 5 years. The MoU spells out how League Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers will interface with the Red Cross in the event that ARES teams are asked by the Red Cross to assist in a disaster or emergency response.

"Whenever there is a disaster requiring the use of Amateur Radio communications resources and/or facilities, the local Red Cross region or chapter may request the assistance of the local ARES organization responsible for the jurisdiction of the scene of the disaster," the MoU provides. Such assistance would include mobilization of ARES personnel in accordance with a prearranged plan, and the establishment of communication as necessary during a disaster or emergency. "Both ARRL volunteers and American Red Cross workers will work cooperatively at the scene of a disaster and in the disaster recovery, within the scope of their respective roles and duties" within the scope of the MoU, the agreement says.

Generally, the MoU sets the parameters of the partnership between the ARRL and the Red Cross to provide assistance to communities affected by disasters. It calls upon both organizations to encourage and maintain open lines of communication at the state and local levels, sharing current data regarding disasters, situational and operational reports, changes in policy or personnel, and any information pertaining to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

For its part, the League will encourage ARES units to engage in discussions with local Red Cross entities to develop plans for local response or disaster relief operations. The Red Cross will encourage its field units to engage in discussions with the ARRL Field Organization to develop plans for local response or disaster relief.

Facilitating this is a Statement of Cooperation to provide methods of cooperation between the two organizations on the local level in providing services to communities during or after a disaster event, "as well as other services for which cooperation may be mutually beneficial." The ARRL signatory is either the appropriate ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator.

The new MoU also clarifies that ARES volunteers assisting the Red Cross but not registered as Red Cross volunteers do not have to undergo a prior background check. Radio amateurs who register as Red Cross volunteers, though, must abide by the Red Cross's background check requirement.

Then-ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, signed the MoU on behalf of the League on January 7, while ARC Senior Vice President-Disaster Cycle Services Richard Reed, signed for the American Red Cross on January 22. -- ARRL

ARES Report Forms Training Webinar

ARRL Headquarters will be offering a training session for ARES Emergency Coordinators, District Emergency Coordinators and Section Emergency Coordinators on how ARES report forms are filled out, submitted and how the information is used. The training webinar will be Tuesday March 1, 2016 at 8pm Eastern Time. You may register for the webinar here. The webinar will be recorded and made available online. All EC's, DEC's and SEC's are encouraged to participate. -- Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager.

Colorado Exercise DEEP FREEZE

Colorado is no stranger to snow. In October 1997 a devastating blizzard hit the state resulting in several deaths, many stranded motorists, and more people in need of help. On Saturday, January 9, 2016, the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) held exercise DEEP FREEZE '16 in conjunction with the Colorado National Guard, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other agencies to practice a response to an October '97 type of event.

At the invitation of the Red Cross, operators from Region 2, District 2 (Pikes Peak ARES®) of the Colorado Section Amateur Radio Emergency Service® set up alternate communications between the Red Cross shelter and the county Emergency Operation Center (EOC). Two Pikes Peak ARES® members were dual hatted as county Special Communication Unit personnel and manned the radios in the EOC while another ARES® member worked at the shelter.

Using VHF/FM radios these operators established simplex voice and

John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, prepares to send a digital message. (photo courtesy KD0SFY)

data communication and demonstrated to the shelter manager, Red Cross EOC liaison, and the OEM the ability to digitally pass Incident Command System forms such as the ICS-213.

"The digital messaging capability is a tremendous tool and using it in the exercise helped me learn how best to work it in with our liaison training", said Jimmy Jenkins, the Red Cross EOC liaison for the exercise.

Participating in the exercise were Fred Kendall, KD0TKR; Bob Nuttleman, K0FYI; and John Bloodgood, KD0SFY. More photos can be found here. See also Twitter hashtag #deepfreeze16 -- John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, EC and PIO -- Region 2 District 2, Colorado ARES® (Pikes Peak ARES®) Twitter: @PikesPeakARES

Ohio ARES® Helps in Water Problem

Flint, Michigan, isn't the only area with water problems due to high lead content. Starting the week of January 18, approximately 8,100 customers of Sebring, Ohio, water were notified that they too had problems with high lead content in their drinking water. On January 22, both Ohio and Mahoning County Emergency Management Agencies began passing out bottled water in Sebring. Mahoning County ARES® Emergency Coordinator Wes Boyd, W8IZC, activated ARES® to assist. Response on the workday was low, but a handful of ARES® volunteers was able to respond. According to Boyd, "EMA and Red Cross were overjoyed that radio operators came to work not needing a radio." ARES® volunteers joined others in moving and distributing water supplies. Another call was out for the weekend, where more water was to be distributed.

This is a perfect example of being ready to serve in whatever capacity we can, in order to help our communities. Sometimes it doesn't involve only operating a radio. - Stan Broadway, N8BHL, Section Emergency Coordinator, Ohio

Tips: Public Safety Tools -- Excellent Resources for ARES

The US Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communications' Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program publishes a repository of numerous resources for auxiliary emergency communicators. Most are of direct interest to ARES/RACES and other amateur emergency communication groups, including the new Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AuxFOG). The pub is a reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an amateur radio organization supporting public safety. This reference guide contains information about AuxComm best practices, frequently used radio frequencies, Mutual Aid channels as well as tips and suggestions about auxiliary emergency communicators integrating into a NIMS ICS environment to support communications for planned events or incidents. It can serve as a reference both for auxiliary emergency communicators and public safety communications professionals. -- K1CE

Essay: I Don't Get No Respect

"Last Christmas I got no respect. In my stocking, I got an odor-eater." - Rodney Dangerfield

Arriving at a certain public service event for the first time and on time, I dismally found our team "organizer" absent. We had been instructed to arrive at 0630. He arrived at 0730, unprepared and scrambling, offering no apology, explanation, or guidance. I then realized our fate as volunteers was tied to an unfolding human disaster. Those of us who gave up a Saturday and arrived on time (everyone else), had been standing around shivering, checking our calendar (maybe the event was actually tomorrow), and checking our watches. What we should have been checking for was a plan.

What was our mission and role? Who do we report to? Not even cursory answers were provided by our leader. "He's always like this," one frequent volunteer told me. He added this advice: "Just work around him and make lemonade from the lemon." Still, I couldn't get the phrase "I get no respect" out of my head.

Cables lacking proper connectors and no mains power hampered his setup of "net control" (another term used loosely in this grim context). I'd have thrown a life ring, but he was totally unapproachable. Amidst all the foundering he exhibited a strutting self-importance, guffawing with a small minded group of enablers, and ignoring the rest of us.

The rest of us decided to stick it out to offer what we could to the event officials, staff and volunteers. I befriended volunteers at a water stop who didn't expect me nor had any idea what my role was, but I enjoyed the day cheering everyone on, while resolved to dial 911 should we need help. (The "net control station" was useless).

Fast Forward to the present: Considerable experience as a volunteer and now as a leader have cemented in me the importance of approaching each and every volunteer with the greatest of respect and appreciation. It means not just showing up on time, but paving the way for success long before the event morning briefing. I tell my teams that a successful Amateur Radio effort on event day is a reflection of many months of pre-event communications.

Our mission and role should be no mystery to the organization we are serving. We need to abandon the often-seen and never loved "know-it-all" attitude, and approach event officials and other volunteers as our teachers. We are there for them, not us.

When volunteers report for duty, they have a plan in hand. They know what to expect. They are trained, follow a communications standard, recognize and support an ICS structure, know the boundaries, and therefore feel confident and - most importantly - respected for the communications quasi-professionals they truly are. "Anyone can push a button," I tell our teams. "We're communicators first, not operators. It is this distinction in which you should take great pride."

Ultimate success is a safe event, where those we serve - participants, staff and officials - have benefited from our presence. As this happens more and more, and as I encouragingly see it in the work of others, I lighten up and have some fun. As a team leader, express your respect and appreciation for volunteers through organization, planning, keeping your commitments, communication, delegation, trust, and by expanding your own knowledge and technique. As a volunteer, work with your leaders to bring these and other concepts into practice.

With every event served, up your game. If you're in a position of authority, remember that you represent not only yourself, but all of us. Don't blow it. Aim high and our unique and valuable Amateur Radio service will greatly benefit, and so will you. - Mark Richards, K1MGY, Littleton, Massachusetts [Richards serves as a member of the Boston Athletic Association Communications Committee, which supports the Boston Marathon.]

Letters: More Tips for Net Controllers

I would like to add a few net control tips to those posted in last month's issue: Remember the 10 minute ID rule. It is NOT enough to ID with your call at the beginning and end of the net, especially when nets often run over 20 minutes. Announce the name of the net several times during the net - an easy way is announce it when you are calling the next list of check-ins. Remember, operators who are tuning around or who arrive after the beginning of the net will have no idea what net they are listening to and whether it is an "open" net if the name and type of check-in is not frequently announced. - Sherri Brower, W4STB, ARRL Southern Florida Public Information Officer

Model Emergency Communication Plan for a Retirement Community

Royal Harbor is a gated retirement community of 750 homes located in the town of Tavares, Florida in Lake County, 40 miles north of Orlando. This area features 2000 lakes of which 1400 have names. It's also Florida's hill country, with gently rolling hills, uncharacteristic of the flat land areas of most of Florida.

Hurricanes and tornados are not unusual to Lake County. In 2007 a tornado killed several people and caused much damage. In 2004 the county was visited by four hurricanes.

Five years ago the Royal Harbor Amateur Radio Club adopted an emergency ham radio program called Neighborhood Ham Watch. The idea behind the program was to provide emergency communications to the outside world through Amateur Radio operators who lived in Royal Harbor. The operators decided to prepare an emergency disaster communications plan for the retirement community.

The first Royal Harbor Communications Disaster Plan was presented to the Royal Harbor Home Owners Association board of directors in October 2012. After board approval, it became part of Royal Harbor's overall disaster plan. The plan was recently updated.

The plan makes clear from the very beginning that the members are to first ensure that their own families are safe and secure, before the rest of the plan is executed. In the event of a hurricane, tornado or severe thunderstorm warnings, members will already be on the area ARES frequency 147.255 MHz as part of a SKYWARN net, with the operation being easily converted to the activation of the disaster plan. An equipped operator will be dispatched to HOA office to provide a link to the net and/or the Lake County Emergency Operating Center (EOC) in Tavares, Florida.

Under a plan A, an operator will be assigned as the net control station from his/her home, and will maintain contact with the EOC on 147.255 MHz. The operator may be using generator or battery backup power. The NCS operator will conduct the net of other Royal Harbor amateurs using the simplex frequency of 146.580 MHz or other simplex frequency designated.

The operator at the Royal Harbor office will remain in contact with the net via the simplex link. One operator will be on a D-STAR link, while another is on HF, lending mode and frequency range diversity.

All Royal Harbor emergency operators will have VHF/UHF (V/U) capabilities in their personal vehicles if needed for mobile assignments. When it is safe to do so, the net control station may be moved to the lighthouse for better height above average terrain (HAAT). The repeater located in the lighthouse can be powered by a club generator.

Staffing critical locations will be conducted on a rotating basis; recruitment of additional operators from outside Royal Harbor may be necessary if the incident continues for more than 72 hours. There is an agreement for mutual aid with the Lake County Amateur Radio Association.

A plan B calls for NCS to be located in the Royal Harbor HOA office, among other changes. Operators should be available for deployment within Royal Harbor with mobile or portable radios for damage assessments. A plan C allows for more modifications to the plan/operation as conditions dictate. ARES will also maintain the ability to contact contiguous county EOCs under other plans.

These plans work well for this Florida retirement community and may be used as a model for other communities, expanded or contracted based on size and the ARES population of operators. Develop your own communications plan before it's too late. -- Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ, Lake County (Florida) ARES® Public Information Officer

Wind Storm Damages San Diego/Baja Amateur High Speed Data Facilities

A serious wind storm with gusts of 100 mph in the San Diego/Baja Mexico area at the end of January caused major damage to the facilities of the Radio Club of Baja California (CREBC, Tijuana, Mexico) just south of the US-Mexico border. Many San Diego ARES members use the facilities for repeater and packet communications as do mariners heading down the coast of Baja. The microwave communications backbone emergency group High Data Rate Emergency Network of San Diego (HDRENS) connects over a 50 to 100 Mbit/sec 12 mile path to the CREBC Cardenas tower, which was felled by the storm. Mike Burton, XE2/N6KZB, and CREBC officer Juan Tellez, XE2SI, started repairs as soon as the storm passed, getting systems back up over the course of three to four days.

The Cardenas 80-foot tower was exposed on a high ridge line above Playas de Tijuana, and was a Canadian-made free standing type with broad base, installed 27 years ago. It supported antennas for two Ubiquiti 5 GHz links, CREBC UHF repeater, an area police repeater, 3 area commercial customer systems, UHF and VHF links, 145.09 MHz repeater, and area Fire Department repeaters.

Sometime in the early morning when the gusts were strongest, two of the tower's three legs gave way and the tower collapsed. Corrosion was a contributing factor. On its way down, it missed a neighbor's house by a foot, tore the top security fence railing, damaging many other antennas. Electrical shorts caused site computer damage and damage to AC power lines inside.

Club members, Fire and Police personnel teamed up to get all systems back in service, place antennas on lower structure and remove the tower. Despite the lower elevation all systems functioned well and a new tower may not be needed.

Other sites suffered damage and were also repaired. Damages could have been greater and the fast response just shows that amateurs and public safety professionals can work together when needed in the public interest. -- Mike Burton, XE2/N6KZB (CREBC); and Ed Sack, W3NRG, San Diego ARES


ARRL -- Your One-Stop Resource for Amateur Radio News and Information

Join or Renew Today! ARRL membership includes QST, Amateur Radio's most popular and informative journal, delivered to your mailbox each month.

Subscribe to NCJ -- the National Contest Journal. Published bi-monthly, features articles by top contesters, letters, hints, statistics, scores, NA Sprint and QSO Parties.

Subscribe to QEX -- A Forum for Communications Experimenters. Published bi-monthly, features technical articles, construction projects, columns and other items of interest to radio amateurs and communications professionals.

Free of charge to ARRL members: Subscribe to the ARES E-Letter(monthly public service and emergency communications news), theARRL Contest Update (bi-weekly contest newsletter), Division and Section news alerts -- and much more!

Find us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

ARRL offers a wide array of products to enhance your enjoyment of Amateur Radio

Donate to the fund of your choice -- support programs not funded by member dues!

Click here to advertise in this newsletter, space subject to availability.




Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn