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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
May 18, 2016
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


ARES® Briefs, Links

This Week: Dayton Hamvention® Forums of Interest to ARES Members

The Dayton Hamvention® is this weekend, and features great forums of interest to readers who plan on attending:

Friday, May 20-- 9:15-10:15 Room 3 SHARES HF EMCOMM SHARES - SHAred RESources Government HF Emergency Radio System. This session, conducted by Ross Merlin WA2WDT, the SHARES Program Manager, will discuss the recent expansion of the federal SHARES HF Radio Program to support state agencies, county Emergency Management agencies, and critical infrastructure/key resources providers in addition to the legacy stakeholder group of Federal agencies. SHARES provides emergency backup and interoperability communications for many of the civil agencies previously supported by the MARS programs. Recently all MARS members were granted access to the SHARES program, and the MARS and SHARES are working more closely together to improve and maintain the readiness of HF emergency communications. The presentation will conclude with a question and answer session.

Saturday, May 21 -- 9:15-10:15 Room 3 SATERN:"The Times They Are A-Changin" Moderator: Bill Feist, WB8BZH. Speakers: Lt. Col. Ron Busroe, National CRD Secretary and National Disaster Liaison; Bill Shillington, W9ZCL, Territorial SATERN Coordinator, Central Territory; and Bill Feist, CEM, WB8BZH, National SATERN Liaison. Busroe, who is responsible for The Salvation Army's National Disaster Services program, was to present SATERN Founder Major Patrick E. McPherson, WW9E, with The Salvation Army's Exceptional Service Award for his dedicated service in founding and developing the SATERN program over the past 28 years; McPherson became a silent key this week (see below).

Sunday, May 22 -- 9:15-10:15 Room 1 Amateur Radio Disaster and Emergency Communications Panel Moderator: Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager. A chance to hear from representatives from Amateur Radio's largest organizations active during times of disaster and emergency. Speakers: Rob Macedo, KD1CY, VOIP WX Net and VOIP Hurricane Net; Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center, WX4NHC; Paul English, WD8DBY, US Army MARS; David Stapchuk, KD9DXM, US Air Force MARS; Stan Broadway, N8BHL, Hurricane Watch Net; and Bill Feist, WB8BZH, SATERN.

ARRL Understanding Local MOU's webinar; Date Changed

ARRL Headquarters will be offering a training session for ARES® Emergency Coordinators, District Emergency Coordinators and Section Emergency Coordinators on local, section, and state level Memorandums of Understanding for ARES. The training webinar date has changed: it will be held on Wednesday May 25, 2016 at 8pm Eastern Time. You may register for the webinar here. The webinar will be recorded and made available online afterward. All EC's, DEC's and SEC's are encouraged to participate. -- Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager

Cascadia Rising: Major Earthquake Exercise in Pacific Northwest

The FEMA Cascadia Rising exercise, the largest DHS-FEMA exercise of 2016, will begin on June 7. The scenario is an earthquake and tsunami disaster involving the entire Pacific Northwest. On June 7, the exercise will start with a blackout of all normal, regular communications systems. Emergency/disaster alternate communication systems will be provided by the amateur service. ARRL HQ and W1AW will be active and involved. Two DoD exercises will run concurrently. More information can be found at the FEMA 2016 Cascadia Rising website. Oregon and Washington ARES/RACES organizations are both to be heavily involved with a significant investment of HF activity planned. This will be a major opportunity to showcase ARES/RACES programs and capabilities. -- John Core, KX7YT, incoming Oregon Section Manager; ARES District 1 Emergency Coordinator

[A 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) and the resulting tsunami is the most complex disaster scenario that emergency management and public safety officials in the Pacific Northwest could face. Cascadia Rising is an exercise to address that disaster.

June 7-10, 2016 Emergency Operations and Coordination Centers (EOC/ECCs) at all levels of government and the private sector will activate to conduct a simulated field response operation within their jurisdictions and with neighboring communities, state EOCs, FEMA, and major military commands.

Conducting successful life-saving and life-sustaining response operations in the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels - cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations - as well as non-government organizations and the private sector. One of the primary goals of Cascadia Rising is to train and test this whole community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team. -- FEMA]

SATERN Founder, Director Maj. Patrick McPherson, WW9E, Silent Key

Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) Founder and past National Director Maj Patrick E. "Pat" McPherson, WW9E, of Coloma, Michigan, died May 14 at Lakeland Medical Center in St Joseph, Michigan, where he'd been admitted on May 10 with breathing difficulties. He was 70. After serving as SATERN Director for more than 23 years, McPherson stepped down 5 years ago, although he reassumed the role in 2014-2015 on an interim basis. An ARRL member and a second-generation Salvationist, McPherson founded the disaster response and relief arm in June 1988 with one other US and two Canadian radio amateurs. Just 2 months after its founding, SATERN responded to provide communication between the US and Jamaica following Hurricane Gilbert. Complete ARRL obituary here. -- Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, ARRL News

LAX High Desert ARES Supports Walk MS

On Saturday April 30, 2016 the LAX (ARRL Los Angeles Section) High Desert District ARES group provided communications support for Walk MS, an annual Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser in Lancaster, California. [High Desert refers to areas of southern California deserts that are above 2,000 feet and below 4,000 feet.] There were an estimated 2,000 walkers, volunteers, spectators, and sponsors. The course covered 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) and the participants' fitness and health varied widely including those with mental and physical disabilities and wheelchair-bound entrants.

The LAX High Desert ARES group fielded 16 operators who coordinated communications with EMS, law enforcement, and two SAG vans. The operators also provided communications for the two dozen high school freshmen who comprised the bulk of the on-course volunteers.

A net control station was established in the main staging area with a portable antenna and solar power array. Nine on-course stations were staffed/operated and an operator was assigned to each of the two SAG vans. Tactical call signs were assigned to each station, and primary and secondary 2 meter simplex frequencies were employed.

The LAX High Desert ARES team handled 64 radio messages, the bulk of the calls related to the welfare and progress of the last walkers, including "Tail End Charlie." The operators also fielded calls for the resupply of water at rest stops, redeployment of stations as the walk

The LAX High Desert District ARES group provided communications support for the MS Walk in Lancaster, California, April 30, 2016. (photo courtesy N6CVO)

progressed, and numerous traffic control issues at busy intersections. This year's event had an on-duty deputy sheriff who was also an amateur operator on the net serving as a link for quick and smooth response to traffic problems, redeploying sheriff's volunteers as needed.

By noon, Tail End Charlie finished the walk with an operator following behind. With all stations and attendees accounted for, the net was closed. A short debriefing was conducted and notes were taken for discussion at the next ARES meeting. All event communications were handled efficiently, largely due to the group's collective experience from drills, ongoing training, and the long history of supporting this event. -- Brian Basura, N6CVO, Assistant DEC, ARES High Desert District, ARRL Los Angeles Section

San Diego ARES Drill Showcases Microwave Bandwidth/Speed Capability

A recent San Diego ARES (SDGARES) drill featured a remarkable microwave link established between the southern California city's Sharp Coronado Hospital and the Club de Radio Experimentadores de Baja California (CREBC) club headquarters in Tijuana, Baja through the efforts of the CREBC club, the Coronado Emergency Radio Operators (CERO) and the High Data Rate Emergency Network of San Diego (HDRENS). Mike Burton, N6KZB, at CREBC HQ, and the Coronado Hospital ARES group (WW6RB, N6QKE, KK6DKW and W3NRG) working from the hospital conference room were in high speed video/audio contact extensively such that in effect the two sites were working in tandem: There was no waiting for voice channels to be free or typing and accessing data messages. It was just like having both groups in the same room all the time. The reliability of the link and connection was outstanding -- the video definition was excellent as was the audio such that one could follow the voice exchanges between CREBC and ARES at the Coronado hospital just by listening to the speaker in the CREBC club room in Mexico. In addition, the software gave the groups the ability to send files of any size back and forth and to connect to the commercial Internet if needed. The Sharp headquarters visitors and hospital staff who passed through could be seen at CREBC, and vice versa. The drill garnered good public relations for SDGARES. - Ed Sack, W3NRG

[A new (March 2016 publication date) ARRL title, High Speed Multimedia for Amateur Radio -- Build a High Speed Amateur Radio Microwave Network, can help ARES members learn to take advantage of the broadband capabilities of high speed data in the microwave regions for emergency/disaster response communications. From ARRL: Using commercial off-the-shelf equipment and developing their own software, groups of hams have created high speed wireless Amateur Radio digital networks with wide area coverage.

The possible uses for these high speed data networks in the Amateur Radio community are endless. Virtually any service that works on the regular Internet can be adapted to an Amateur Radio high speed multimedia (HSMM) network, including video conferencing, instant messaging, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), network sensors and cameras, remote station control, and many other services. With the capability to send real-time video and data files, the public service and disaster support aspects of Amateur Radio are expanded tremendously.

This book introduces HSMM networking, explains the basics of how it works, and describes the various technologies in use today. Later chapters explain in detail how to deploy your own HSMM network, along with various applications to put it to work. Well illustrated step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process of installing and configuring software needed to get your HSMM network up and running. Available for purchase here.]

New Books: Army MARS at 90

Army MARS at 90, Helping Protect the Homeland, An Unofficial History was just published in March, by author Bill Sexton, AAR1FP/FL, N1IN. The commentary represents Sexton's observations as a 25 year veteran of Army MARS, including a 10 year stint on the HQ staff; he served as the organization's Public Affairs Officer for most of its ninth decade. The book covers the history of the system from its inception to changes in its mission from 2010 to the present. Sexton was close to the heart of MARS planning and operations, having reported directly to the Chief; he retired from the Chief's Special Staff in 2014. The recent changes he writes about are the re-purposing of the auxiliary from supporting civil agencies to more direct support of the military, and more involvement with ARES: ARES and RACES were asked to join in a major Defense Department test of the panoply of amateur emergency response entities, which was held last November.

The book starts off with one of the current challenges facing the country -- terrorism - and how amateur service operators in MARS could keep the nation connected by HF in the event the Internet, cell and other vital systems were taken out. MARS, a mainly infrastructure-independent system, could be one of the few surviving, and the first contact with survivors, in a national scale disaster. The author then recounts the origins of the program, when the Signal Corps and ARRL partnered to provide a needed transcontinental wireless network, and how the basic mission hasn't changed that much. The Army Links Up with the Amateur read a QST headline. The liaison helped ARRL justify hams' continued access to spectrum, including against emerging commercial broadcast interests. The Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) later became MARS.

Controlled and scheduled nets in a system, not unlike the present-day National Traffic System, were formed. The first disaster for the AARS was the 1926 flood that took out communications. AARS members called for help from the Army and Red Cross for the horrific Great Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 disaster in Florida. Sexton adds archived photos, which are as powerful as the disaster photos of today. [Sexton credits another MARS member, Bill Gabour, AB5G, a leader in Louisiana MARS, for his prowess and patience in handling the 60 illustrations and other technical details of publishing this book.]

The AARS was shut down with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but ARRL's efforts led to the War Emergency Radio Service where selected hams could operate on 2-1/2 meters for emergency messages. It was the forerunner to RACES. After the war, AARS was reestablished as MARS and was started up just in time to see service for the Korean war.

Prior to WWII, the ARRL had started ARES to focus on civilian emergency/disaster response, based on local VHF operation. ARRL also started the National Traffic System (NTS) in 1949, based on the previous military model. MARS had a longer-haul HF network, too, and it seemed that ARES, NTS and MARS would be logical partners, but they competed for hams from the same pool. Some members saw MARS as a threat, unfortunately over a long period of time, although there were exceptions. Recent events and cooperative exercises have helped to thaw the trilateral relationship. (MARS, NTS and ARES were not the only entities vying for candidates for membership: RACES was formed by the federal government in 1952, at the onset of the Cold War, to be activated during conflict or during an emergency by a local emergency management (formerly Civil Defense, or CD) agency.There was friction between ARES and RACES, well into the modern era, although it seems to be dissipating). Sexton also discusses the friction between Army MARS and the Navy and Air Force programs. The Navy terminated its MARS program last year.

Service to Vietnam Soldiers

Sexton turns in a moving chapter on MARS' support for service personnel in Vietnam, a new purpose for operators that had commenced with the Korean conflict. MARSgrams were relayed, and phone patching followed for soldiers to talk to their families at home. In-country MARS operators faced constant peril from enemy fire. Calls were terminated abruptly when operators had to fight. The MARSgram and phone patch era ended with the first Gulf War, with the advent of e-mail and satellite phone service; participation in MARS dwindled.

Return to Emergency Communications

MARS returned to its original mission of emergency/disaster relief communications. MARS operators adopted/developed new technologies such as Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) and Winlink. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) signed an agreement with MARS. Challenges to MARS' use of the Winlink 2000 system came (with concern over use of the unsecure Internet), but went. Sexton covers changes in leadership, empowering volunteer leadership; major disaster drills and the need for interoperability; and the renaissance that occurred when the Army recently renewed its interest in MARS.

Barely a week before a crucial DoD test of "all-radio" cross-country capability that members had spent months preparing for, Superstorm Sandy uprooted training schedules with a bigger challenge. Stressed-out operators passed both tests. Last Fall, a major communications exercise included interfacing with local amateur groups such as ARES. ARRL reported success, "especially in terms of ARES-MARS cooperation." Sexton concludes his book with current history, and a look ahead to MARS' centennial; and a set of appendices.

A Labor of Love

There was a trifecta at work on this superb, fascinating, and at times, gripping tome: Sexton's 40 years as writer and editor of daily newspapers, his decade of service as Army MARS Public Affairs Officer, and lastly but most importantly, his passion for the organization. Some of the anecdotes brought tears to my eyes, having lived my young adulthood during the Vietnam era. Sexton's book taught me a lot about the organization and only now do I fully realize that MARS has represented the very finest in Amateur Radio's richest traditions of service to humanity.

Army MARS at 90, by William C. Sexton, N1IN, self-published March 2016, privately printed. -- K1CE

Train-Bus Crash Mass Casualty Exercise in Southern Florida

When a train and just about anything else cross paths, the results are not good. According to the US Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, 2016 has recorded 155 incidents and 20 fatalities. Last year, the total was 2,059 incidents with 240 fatalities.

This past April Fools' Day, the train versus bus incident in Arcadia, Florida, however, was only a drill. The Florida Department of Health along with public safety agencies from DeSoto County staged a mock train-bus accident along the tracks that pass Morgan Park in Arcadia, designed to field test the first responder and hospital emergency departments. Hendry County Emergency Management staff and reservists, led by EM Director Brian Newhouse, KJ4WIC, and Finance & Logistics Chief Cristina Mercado were invited to participate in the exercise to take advantage of the training opportunity.

Hendry County CERT Coordinator Margaret England, KM4OVY, ARES Emergency Coordinator Frank Harris, WA4PAM, and Volunteer Coordinator Tony Fanska, KC0SJU, provided perimeter safety control around Morgan Park's still-open public roads. Throughout the exercise, all of the operators in the group stayed connected on a 2-meter simplex frequency. A total of thirteen "victim-patients" including Hendry County CERT and ARES team members were made up to appear like they had serious injuries: A real steel spike "embedded" in one victim's abdomen, fractured ribs, flying glass cuts, and a cerebral hemorrhage from a fractured skull were all simulated with detailed makeup.

Once the players were in place, DeSoto County Fire-Rescue responders descended on the scene, triaged the victims (sorted them by injury severity), and transported them to DeSoto Memorial Hospital, in what would later be termed a "very quick" response lasting about one hour, half the normal time.

In the after-action hot wash at the DeSoto County Emergency Operations Center, the facilitators gave emergency services high marks, citing inter-office cooperation, communications skills, and solid training. During the meeting, some of the CERT and ARES "victims" arrived, some still in makeup and fresh from the emergency room, to applause from the professional teams. The Hendry County CERT team members had praise for their DeSoto counterparts, complimenting them on their positive attitude and performance.

Director Newhouse said "I was proud to have our staff and reservists work with the outstanding professionals in DeSoto County today. I'd like our teams to continue along this path to make Hendry County the place other jurisdictions can look to as an example of what can be done with a small group of dedicated staff and volunteers. Hopefully, when the word gets around locally, it will encourage more residents of Hendry County to take CERT and Amateur Radio courses for membership and licensure so they can be ready to help their neighborhoods after a disaster."

Hendry County CERT Coordinator Margaret England, KM4OVY, added, "I was impressed at how smoothly the Incident Command System was implemented by the responders, emergency workers, and hospital staff during the train bus wreck simulation. I look forward to Hendry County CERT volunteers' participation in future emergency exercises in order to help in our neighborhoods and community."

Brenda Barnes, Planning Consultant & Public Information Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades counties said "This was a great training experience for everyone involved. You respond like you train. This training exercise provided the opportunity for us to learn together but also allowed us to strengthen our professional relationships." - from the Big Lake Amateur Radio Club website, Hendry County, Florida, used with permission of Andrew Frame, WD4RCC, Reservist, Hendry County Emergency Management; Hendry County Assistant EC and SKYWARN Spotter

Preparing for Wildfires

A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire burning in a natural area, such as a forest, grassland, or prairie. There's a misconception that wildfires only happen in western and the Great Plains states. While wildfires are more common in certain states, they can occur anywhere in the country. In addition, homes and business are more susceptible to wildfires as building development expands into once forested areas. This is called the wildland urban interface, and this interaction can put individuals at risk for exposure to wildfire. To help reduce the chance of wildfire, the America's PrepareAthon! How to Prepare for a Wildfire guide calls on everyone to practice fire prevention, such as learning terms relevant to wildfire communication that are used by the National Weather Service:

Fire Weather Watch: Potentially dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours.

Fire Weather/Red Flag Warning: Fire danger exists and weather patterns that support wildfires are either occurring or expected to occur within 24 hours. (Your community may also use the National Fire Danger Rating System to provide a daily estimate of the fire danger [i.e., low, moderate, high, very high, and extreme]).

Evacuation Notice: Local authorities may issue an evacuation notice to alert residents that a fire is nearby and it is important to leave the area. When authorities issue a mandatory evacuation notice, leave the area as soon as possible.

More here, from FEMA. Please also see "Wildfire Communications: Fog and Friction", pp. 85-86, February 2014 QST, for education and training references on safety and providing amateur service communications for responding agencies and public safety.


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