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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
August 16, 2017
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
Contact Your Senators Right Now for Passage of the Amateur Radio Parity Act!

The Amateur Radio Parity Act holds special significance for us in the ARES community who prepare our portable, mobile and home stations for emergency/disaster response communications for the safety, health and welfare of our families, friends and neighbors, community and partner agencies. We can't do it without good antennas!

The Amateur Radio Parity Act was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives in January as H.R. 555. It provides a mutually satisfactory compromise reached between the American Radio Relay League (ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio) and the Community Associations Institute (CAI, which represents home owners associations). The Senate Bill, S. 1534, allows for effective outdoor Amateur Radio antennas for public service and emergency communications while protecting the prerogative of community associations.

Please take action and urge your Senators to pass S. 1534. I did, this week! The ARRL has set up a special web utility that makes contacting your senators as easy as possible; it took me only one minute to process and send my letters to my senators. Click here to do it!

See also ARRL Amateur Radio Parity Act FAQs (8/9/17)

In This Issue:


ARES Briefs, Links

Click here for Monthly ARES Reports from ARRL HQ. (Most recent report is for June 2017). Please check to ensure that your Section is represented in the monthly reports -- your Section's data is of critical importance to the League's efforts for spectrum defense.

Emergency Management Magazine published a very favorable article on Amateur Radio. Check it out here. -- Thanks, Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ

IARU Region 2 Area G Announces Emergency Communications Exercise (8/9/17)

Hurricane Watch Net Activating for Tropical Cyclone Franklin (8/9/17)

Radio Amateurs in Atlantic Canada Go on Standby During Telephone Outage (8/9/17)

Oklahoma Radio Amateurs to Participate in FEMA Exercise (8/2/17)

Seattle Radio Amateurs to Take Part in "Hubs and Spokes" Earthquake Scenario Drill (7/28/17)

ARES LAX: Plane Crash Drill Turns to Major Fire Response

ARES® Los Angeles (ARES LAX) Northwest District operators shifted from a plane crash mass casualty drill to a real major fire response in a single day recently. On Saturday, July 8, with record 108-degree heat the ARRL Los Angeles Section's ARES Northwest District Emergency Coordinator Roozy Moabery, W1EH, didn't know that a real emergency would come just six hours after his ARES members finished a full-scale, all-morning multiple-hospital mass casualty drill.

The planned mass casualty drill involved numerous hospitals and first responder agencies following the scenario of a fully-loaded private jet crashing at a busy freeway junction in the Encino area one minute after take-off from nearby Van Nuys Airport. ARES LAX-Northwest members deployed to their assigned hospitals by 7:00 AM for the drill to handle back-up communication on hospital utilization and bed availability. Moabery reported this was also an excellent case of ARES interfacing with other disaster-focused Amateur Radio organizations.

But after a few hours of rest later in the day the ARES LAX-Northwest's real emergency came from a 6:37 PM explosion and fire at a City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 230,000-volt receiving station in the San Fernando Valley's Northridge area. While firefighters fought flames, the receiving station's electric flow was shut leaving 147,000 homes and businesses without AC mains power for up to 11 hours in the searing evening and overnight heat.

Five hospitals ARES LAX-Northwest serves-- including major trauma center Northridge Hospital Medical Center--switched to emergency backup power. ARES LAX-Northwest quickly established a net and Moabery immediately deployed to the 409-bed Northridge Hospital, remaining there until 5:55 AM Sunday morning. Assistant DEC Marty Woll, N6VI, served as net control while Assistant DEC Dean Cuadra, WA6P, and Emergency Coordinator David Goldenberg, W0DHG, kept in contact with other hospitals to determine their operational status.

Although ARES only physically deployed to Northridge Hospital, other ARES members were on standby throughout the incident. The reduced electric power available at Northridge Hospital combined with the extreme hot weather resulted in numerous patients being relocated to unaffected hospitals.

Moabery gave a full presentation on lessons learned from the July 8-9 drill and actual emergency at his August ARES LAX-Northwest monthly meeting. First, you can never have enough HT batteries. Some ARES members were recharging their depleted batteries following the morning hospital drill when the early evening power outage occurred. Second, the hospital drill proved another reminder that repeaters cannot always be relied upon--having a simplex back-up plan is essential and ARES LAX-Northwest had one. Third, on such an extremely hot day and back-up power unable to work hospital air-conditioning systems or kitchens ARES members need to be prepared for such operating conditions--bring your own water and food. Finally, ARES LAX-Northwest learned that hospitals can take up to 24 hours to fully recover from a lengthy power outage because of re-sterilization procedures and ensuring critical medicine and tissue storage areas maintained proper refrigeration. -- ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF

Get with the SET: ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) Fall Classic Just Ahead

The main weekend for the 2017 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is just a bit more than a month away -- Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8. The primary League-sponsored national emergency exercise is designed to assess the skills and preparedness of ARES and other organizations involved with emergency/disaster response.

"Every local ARES team and/or ARRL Section will come up with their own scenarios and work with served agencies and partner organizations during the SET," ARRL Field Organization Team Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X, said, noting that not all SETs will take place on October 7 and 8.

"SETs can be scheduled at the local and Section levels and conducted throughout the fall season to help maximize participation," he said, "and ARRL Field Organization leaders have the option of conducting their SETs on another weekend, if October 7 and 8 are not convenient."

ARRL Field Organization Leaders -- Section Managers, Section Emergency Coordinators, Section Traffic Managers, District Emergency Coordinators, Emergency Coordinators, and all of their Assistants and Net Managers -- are among those tasked with developing plans and scenarios for this year's SET, Ewald explained.

"The SET invites all radio amateurs to become aware of emergency preparedness and available training," Ewald said. "ARES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), National Traffic System™, SKYWARN, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) and other allied groups and public service-oriented radio amateurs are encouraged to participate."

The object of the annual nationwide exercise is to test training and skills and to try out new methods. "It's a time to work with partner organizations and served agencies to get to know them better and to determine their needs before an emergency or disaster strikes," Ewald said. "Knowing whom to contact within partner groups with the planned procedures will help everyone to accomplish their goals and succeed in their missions."

Over the decades, ARRL has established strong working relationships with such organizations and agencies as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the National Weather Service, the National Communications System, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials- International (APCO-International), Citizen Corps, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), REACT International, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), the US Power Squadron, and the Boy Scouts of America.

"Getting to know these organizations at the local, section, and state levels and how to work together for effective emergency and disaster response service is important," Ewald said. "The annual Simulated Emergency Test provides the chance, and you and the radio amateurs of your community help make it happen."

To get involved, contact your local ARRL Emergency Coordinator or Net Manager. See the ARRL Sections web pages or your ARRL Section Manager (see page 16 of QST for contact information).

Santa Barbara Amateurs Support Endurance Run in Los Padres National Forest

Over the weekend of July 14-16, fifteen ARRL Santa Barbara Section hams operated from 10 remote Aid Stations in support of the Santa Barbara Endurance Run in the Los Padres National Forest above Santa Barbara, California. The Santa Barbara Endurance Run is a 100K Ultra run combined simultaneously with a Mountain Marathon and Heavy Half-Marathon (for those not challenged enough running on flat ground).

118 runners registered for the 100K, with 39 finishing (12:31 top finishing time); 48 registered for the Mountain Marathon, with 29 finishing; and 68 for the Heavy Half-Marathon, with 34 finishing. This is a tough run.

Concerns, as always, when operating in remote areas, are reliable communications when cell phone coverage is marginal to non-existent. The Amateur Radio operators' mission was to advise when runners were reported in distress -- exhausted or dehydrated. The operators were able to dispatch Trail Sweep motorcycle riders to locate and escort runners to a vehicle or aid station where they were rehydrated,

Ron Kibbe, KI6YAX, operates KG6BOV Romero Aid Station, Santa Barbara Endurance Run (photo courtesy KG6BOV)

and either returned to or retired from the race and got a ride to the finish area. Radio communication support was provided primarily through the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (K6TZ) Rover portable repeater operating on the Santa Ynez Ridge above Santa Barbara. Backup communications were provided through the W6YJO and WB6OBB repeaters, also on the Santa Ynez Ridge.

There are always lessons learned: In this year's race event, several late changes to the course were made, primarily due to trail and road damage from winter storms. With the course changes and accompanying Aid Station location changes, radio coverage between the Aid Stations and the Net Control Station can become unpredictable. Relay operations and alternate simplex channels became the order of the day.

While supporting the Ultra, the amateurs were also monitoring the K6TZ primary repeater on 146.790 MHz for status reports on the Whittier Fire, approximately 10 miles away near SR 154 and Lake Cachuma, which eventually grew to over 18 thousand acres with more than 3000 being evacuated (and also threatening both the W6YJO and WB6OBB repeaters). Thanks went to the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club for the repeater support for this operation. - Stewart Stone, KG6BOV, Oxnard, California

Tennessee ARES Group Mentioned in Mayoral Address

On Wednesday, July 23, ARES members represented the Williamson County, Tennessee, ARES (WCARES) at the Mayor's Annual State of the County address. This year's address was aimed at voluntarism in Williamson county. The ARES members set up a booth at the entrance of the convention center and displayed drop-kits and handed out ARRL literature. They were approached by several attendees who showed an interest in Amateur Radio and wanted to know what ARES does. During the Mayor's address, he spoke about WCARES and had a slide in his power point presentation showing WCARES in action. This was a great opportunity for WCARES and Amateur Radio. - Jeff Standifer, WB5WAJ, Franklin, Tennessee

San Diego Winlink (RMS Express) Weekly Drill Starts Eighth Year

Recently, the pioneering San Diego Winlink group began its eighth year of its weekly drill program. Ed Sack, W3NRG, said "I am pleased to note that in the period since we began, we have missed only one week on the drill exchange." And, "if my arithmetic is correct, that indicates we have conducted over 360 drills during the period. The number of drill participants has remained fairly constant over the seven year period the drill has been in existence." The number of addressees has been between 20 and 25 with approximately half of those having been active during the entire period and the other half being those who join, practice for a while and then are replaced by new participants. The weekly response rate runs from a low of 55% to a high of 90% with 75% being a fairly good overall average. During the life of the drill, there have been many upgrades to the Winlink (RMS Express) program. Of particular note, the idea of standard templates was introduced several years ago and the drill message today is sent out on the latest Winlink IC-213 template which, of course, can be accessed by those who use templates, as well as those who do not. Winlink has become the "program of choice" for emergency/disaster response work in many corners of the nation and the world. "We believe that having a trained and prepared cadre of Winlink emergency communicators in the San Diego/Northern Baja region provides a very powerful tool for ARES and other organizations to utilize should a serious emergency/disaster occur in this region. - Thanks, Ed Sack, W3NRG


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