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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
November 16, 2016
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


ARES Briefs, Links

Hurricane Watch Net Honors Bermuda Radio Amateur (11/4/16); National Geographic Channel Ham Radio Guide Supports Before MARS Prequel (11/2/16); ARES/RACES Supports Office of Emergency Management during Presidential Debate (10/27/16); Philippine Hams Team Up to Confront Back-to-Back Typhoons (10/24/16)

Ecuador Radio Club Recognizes ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager, Ham Aid -- ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, was recognized by the Guayaquil Radio Club (GRC) of Ecuador for coordinating the work of the ARRL and of several other radio amateurs to provide Ham Aid equipment to Ecuador this past spring, following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April. Read the full report here.

Learn to Use Your Repeater's Autopatch

On Monday, May 23, 2016 Amador (California) Amateur Radio Club President Paul Keeton, KI6LZC, was on deployment with the Red Cross in Calaveras county for the Butte Fire Recovery when he came across a woman lying on the roadway. There was no cell signal there, so he used the autopatch available on the Amador repeater to call 911. This was an excellent example of autopatch use. Keeton would have had to drive to the nearest town (West Point) to use a phone there. As he noted, "Autopatch is very handy up here in the mountains." The woman recovered. - ARRL Sacramento Valley Section ARES News

Radio amateurs in the US enjoy a great privilege -- the ability to interconnect their stations and repeaters with the public telephone system. The wisdom of the federal government in permitting, and even in defending, this freedom has been demonstrated time and again. There is no way to calculate the value of the lives and property that have been saved by the intelligent use of phone patch and autopatch facilities in emergency situations. As with any privilege, this one can be abused, and the penalty for abuse could be the loss of the privilege for all amateurs. Study the ARRL Autopatch Guidelines here. -- ARRL

Ten Steps to Access Your Repeater's Autopatch

1. Ensure that the repeater is not in use. If it is, but the reason for the autopatch is to report an emergency, transmit the word "break" to break into the QSO. An emergency involves the immediate safety of life or protection of property.

2. State that you are going to use the autopatch - "This is K1FUG, bringing up the autopatch."

3. Wait a few seconds for any other station to break in with a possible emergency.

4. Use your mic's DTMF keypad to transmit the repeater's autopatch access code.

5. When you hear the dial tone, push the mic's PTT button, and key in the phone number of the party you are calling.

6. Take your finger off the PTT button to receive, and you should hear the repeater controller confirm by voice that you're making an autopatch, followed by the called party's phone ringing.

7. When the called party answers, transmit and speak normally. Immediately tell the party that you're calling via a ham radio and that they are "on the air" to head off any inappropriate statements.

8. Explain that the phone call is not duplex; that is, only one party can speak at a time. In the event the other party states inappropriate words or sentences, you can block the party's speech by simply keying your transmitter, and then terminating the 'patch.

9. Keep transmissions short and the complete call as brief as possible.

10. Finish the call by saying good-bye and enter the autopatch termination code provided by your repeater club. (Note: Autopatch access codes are typically furnished only to repeater club members who support the repeater. Hint: Join and support your local repeater clubs!). The repeater controller will confirm autopatch termination. It's common courtesy to then thank the repeater sponsor for the use of the autopatch.


When you use the autopatch, everything you and the called party say is transmitted over the air for anybody with a scanner or live stream Internet connection to hear. User discretion is advised! Also, the autopatch is for short communications, not lengthy, breezy chats - three minutes max! Some controllers will remind you when you have thirty seconds left. The autopatch is usually restricted to local calls only.

Notes from California Wildfire Responses; Lessons Learned

California, and the west in general, has suffered wildfires of epic proportions. Recently, a few ARES and other amateur responders wrote about their experiences and lessons learned.

Lou Arbanas, NJ6H, District EC for Monterey County, California, reported that this past summer's Chimney and Sobranes fires posed challenges for the amateur community. For many operators and CERT teams who had not drilled previously with Monterey County ARES prior to the fires, county ARES protocols and processes in the first weeks of the fires were confusing. The fires affected only sparsely populated areas, and existing, normal communications infrastructure remained intact, thus significant ARES assistance was not indicated. Amateurs did not self-activate or self-deploy, which was a positive, and critically important for any incident, but more training during controlled exercises and communications operations for public events is clearly indicated for the future.

In Monterey county, its sheer size challenges the communications structure within the ARES organization. ECs were able to text (short message service -- SMS) each other where VHF/UHF links were not possible. In the first hours of the fires, ECs texted photos and messages to the EOC, which proved valuable there as reports from "eyes on the ground." ECs maintained communication with their operational areas (OA) and provided their ARES volunteers with information as needed. Lesson learned: The use of the most efficient and effective mode/service of communications is always indicated, regardless of whether it is the amateur service or not, including social media! Other efficient systems can and should be employed whenever possible; for example, Web EOC was fully active and functioned well on keeping radio traffic down. As the hours turned into days, days to weeks, and weeks to months, Web EOC allowed operators to stay connected, contributing from their offices and homes without having to spend hours physically at the EOC.

Liaison was quickly forged with San Luis Obispo County and Salinas Valley repeater owners in the first days of the Sobranes Fire. Mutual aid arrangements were made with the Santa Clara OA through Brandon Bianchi, NI6C, Section Manager, and Section Emergency Coordinator Larry Carr, KE6AGJ; thus, Monterey County ARES was in an elevated state of readiness and prepared to function, with support available.

Butte Wildfire 2015

The Butte Fire raged southeast of Sacramento, California, in the Stanislaus National Forest region last year. Amador County ARES supported the Red Cross shelter with radio communications for 102 hours in September, 2015. Daniel L. Edwards, KJ6WYW, Amador County EC, reported that three operators deployed to the shelter on short notice, and set up a station from a go-box and a 2-meter band antenna. Shelter staffers provided chairs, table and extension cords for the operation. ARES ops erected a pop-up tent over the table. A net was announced, and ARES

Protective masks were indicated when winds shifted smoke towards operators. Amador County EC Daniel Edwards, KJ6WYW, masked, at the Butte Fire Red Cross shelter. (photo courtesy Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT)

members checked in. An NCS rotation and roster was announced, with shifts limited so that operators would not become fatigued. Each shift consisted of two operators: One manned net control and the other provided liaison with the shelter personnel. Handi-talkies were used for communication between these individuals. Operators also monitored a Cal Fire channel. ARES set up a communications trailer with a third mobile unit/station and alternative power sources. Yolo County ARES volunteered support as did Sacramento ARES, for well-received mutual aid.

No official messages were sent or received but ARES net operators did disseminate situation reports and observations on the location and movement of the fire, the closure of roads and the areas being evacuated, which proved valuable to agencies struggling with coordination. With the ARES station's prominence in the shelter's parking lot, ARES operators found themselves becoming the first point of contact for evacuees coming to the shelter. To insure that the repeater was kept clear for network traffic, it was announced each hour that the repeater was under net control for traffic limited to fire-related messages and reports. Cooperation of regular repeater users was outstanding. A positive outcome was that the repeater manager will program the repeater to include automated statements for use in future incidents.

Los Angeles

ARRL Los Angeles (LAX) Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF, reported that Los Angeles County (which with 10.2 million residents comprises the entire ARRL LAX Section) Amateur Radio operators were not activated during any large-scale fires or disasters to-date in 2016. There was, however, a CERT-like Amateur Radio group in a mountain community that did an outstanding job of undertaking their own radio operations for two days during a 400-acre brush fire in June caused by a car accident, with the disaster Amateur Radio group at a nearby Sheriff's Station also activated for about a day.

ARES in Los Angeles County is largely committed to providing back-up communication for hospitals during major disasters (the amateur service is seventh of the eight protocols for disaster response communication with the County health services department.) Many LAX ARES members participate in the annual Statewide Healthcare Exercise testing hospital operations and communications in disaster situations. [This year's exercise will be held tomorrow, November 17].

On the RACES front, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has a large group of disaster communications-prepared Amateur Radio operators as Sheriff's Volunteers across 23 Sheriff's Stations that have fully-equipped Amateur Radio rooms, radios and antennas on the Station towers (Feinberg serves as the countywide training chief for this organization). Five of these stations also have specialized volunteer mountain search and rescue teams to find lost or injured hikers and motorists -- and Amateur Radio operators at those Sheriff's Stations have often been called up to provide auxiliary communication in back country areas. Additionally, almost half the County's 88 incorporated cities including the City of Los Angeles have their own disaster Amateur Radio group. ARRL Southwestern Division Vice Director Marty Woll, N6VI, also serves as Training Officer for the City of Los Angeles' Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) radio organization.

Volunteer radio groups were not activated for the 41,400-acre Sand Fire that raged in north L.A. County for over a week during July 22-31, 2016. A stated reason for not using any volunteers then was safety concerns following shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and elsewhere during the previous weeks. Additionally there were no significant disruptions to normal communication systems. Unlike some other areas in the United States, all fire departments in Los Angeles County are completely staffed with 24/7 full-time professionals (plus some low-risk inmate wildfire teams). Only two small communities rely on volunteer firefighters for fire-suppression assistance while leaving paramedic services to full-time professionals.

For the most part, the volunteer disaster Amateur Radio organizations in Los Angeles County train regularly, heavily focused on a major earthquake scenario. I expect all these disaster Amateur Radio groups will be fully involved then. - Diana Feinberg, AI6DF, ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager

SKYWARN Recognition Day Webinar

The 18th SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) will be held December 3, 2016 from 0000UTC to 2400UTC. SKYWARNTM Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that SKYWARN volunteers make to the NWS mission, the protection of life and property. Amateur radio operators comprise a large percentage of the SKYWARN volunteers across the country. The Amateur radio operators also provide vital communication between the NWS and emergency management if normal communications become inoperative. During the SKYWARN Special Event operators will visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.

This year, in the week before SRD 2016, there will be a webinar that covers the basics of the event, how to participate, and a few changes that are in store for 2016. The webinar will be November 29 at 8pm ET. Registration for the webinar can be found here. As with all ARRL webinars it will be recorded and posted to the ARRL YouTube channel afterward.

Popular TV Show HamRadioNow Adds "EmComm Extra"

The popular TV show/YouTube show/Podcast HamRadioNow is adding presentations on emergency and disaster response communications subjects. HamRadioNow is an online television show, webcast, podcast, and a YouTube show for and about Amateur Radio. The host is Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, a radio amateur and broadcaster for 50 years. The show is recorded, not live, and there's no set schedule. Viewers can watch the show at any time on the Episode Pages on its website, or on its YouTube Channel. Or listeners can download just the audio and listen on their phones with the RSS feed. The format is primarily a talk show with a pair of hosts and a series of guests. Co-host is David Goldenberg, W0DHG, an Emergency Coordinator. (Pearce has an ARES/PIO background).

Goldenberg and Pearce have announced that they are planning to produce a show whenever an incident occurs that warrants discussion of lessons learned. "The goal is to provide an interesting, entertaining and useful look at emergency/disaster response activity in the context of Amateur Radio," said Pearce. "We do in-depth shows (usually an hour or more), and can go way beyond a cursory summary of an event or drill," he said. Spurring this new aspect of the show was Hurricane Matthew. "We did an off-the-cuff show as HamRadioNow Episode 270, then a more formal show (Episode 274) featuring Emergency Coordinators from Florida and South Carolina in the storm's aftermath," Pearce said. There have been emergency/disaster response themed shows before, collected and published on an "EmComm Playlist" on the YouTube Channel. -- Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, Cary, North Carolina, HamRadioNow

Profiles in ARES: Meet Bob Turner, W6RHK, ARRL Orange Section Emergency Coordinator

Bob Turner, W6RHK, is the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) for the ARRL Orange Section [The Orange Section is part of the ARRL Southwestern Division, and is made up of four counties: Inyo County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County, in California. Carl Gardenias, WU6D, has served as Section Manager since 2003, with the section continuing to grow with 40 clubs now active.] Turner first served as a local Emergency Coordinator, then as District Emergency Coordinator overseeing activities in Riverside County. As part-time faculty with Moreno Valley College in the Public Safety Education and Training department he has taught courses in Introduction to Homeland Security; Preparedness for Emergencies, Disasters and Homeland Security Incidents; and Recovery in Emergencies, Disasters and Homeland Security Incidents. As one of the Subject Matter Experts, Turner helped write the curriculum for all six Homeland Security courses that Moreno Valley College offered.

Turner earned a B.S. degree from Rochester Institute of Technology with concentrations in Disaster and Emergency Management, and Technical Communications. He is a certified Emergency Management Specialist through the National Association of Safety Professionals. Through the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security, Turner is a Certified National Threat Analyst, a Certified Intelligence Analyst, and holds a Level IV certification in Homeland Security. He serves as a Terrorism Liaison Officer for the Joint Regional Intelligence Center and is a member of the Los Angeles section of Infragard, which is a partnership with the public and private sectors and the FBI for critical infrastructure protection. With Infragard, he is involved in the Electromagnetic Pulse and Government Facilities Special Interest Groups. Turner is a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (an ARRL partner organization), and the Southern California Earthquake Alliance. His regular job is as the Director of Risk Management for the Alvord Unified School District. - ARRL Sacramento Valley Section News

ARES Members: Become a PIO

Assume a dual role in emergency/disaster response theaters of operation - become an ARRL Public Information Officer (PIO) for your ARES group. It's a natural fit. ARRL Public Information Officers (PIOs) are appointed by their Section Manager and report to their ARRL section Public Information Coordinator (PIC). Training for PIOs is typically provided regularly on a sectional or regional basis by the PIC and/or other qualified people.

One of the most important responsibilities of the PIO is to serve as a liaison between the media and the ARES Emergency Coordinators involved in an emergency/disaster response where Amateur Radio is playing an active, critical role. Other responsibilities include:

· Establishes and maintains a list of media contacts in the local area; strives to establish and maintain personal contacts with appropriate representatives of those media (e.g., editors, news directors, science reporters, etc.).

· Becomes a contact for the local media and assures that editors/reporters who need information about Amateur Radio know where to find it.

· Works with Local Government Liaisons to establish personal contacts with local government officials where possible and explain to them, briefly and non-technically, about Amateur Radio and how it can help their communities.

· Maintains contact with the Emergency Coordinator and/or District Emergency Coordinator. Helps prepare an emergency response PR kit.

· Keeps the section PIC fully informed on activities and places PIC on news release mailing list.

Public Information Officer Training Course PR-101

The PIO course provides an overview of public relations. Experts in various aspects of public relations provide Public Information Officers with basic skills. PR-101 covers drafting a basic news release to website and video development/production. The materials can also be used as a handbook. Special sections cover emergency communications and the media - what Amateur Radio wants the world to know and how to position it for best results. ARES members can download a copy of the course here. Upon completion, contact the Continuing Education Program at to request the URL and password you'll need to take the online final exam.

While attending the Lake Amateur Radio Association of Lake County, Florida Tail Gate flea market recently, Strait Hollis, KT4YA, ARRL North Florida Section Emergency Coordinator, took time out to congratulate Joan Luebbers, K2JDL, for receiving her new Lake County Emergency Management Volunteer Badge. Joan recently passed all the FEMA courses she needed to qualify to operate ARES emergency radio equipment in Lake County Shelters. She holds an Extra Class License. (photo courtesy K1AYZ)

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