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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
October 18, 2017
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
A Hurricane Season To Remember -- And It's Not Over

This year's epic hurricane season and matching amateur service provider responses from the major players such as the Hurricane Watch Net, SATERN, the WX4NHC station/operators adjacent to the main forecasting room at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the VoIP Hurricane Net and others, and the smaller but no less significant ones such as local and county ARESĀ®, CERT, RACES, SKYWARN REACT and other ARRL Field Organization appointees/groups that staffed and supported Red Cross shelters, EOCs, National Weather Service Forecast Offices, hospitals and many other facilities in and outside the threatened and devastated areas, to some almost unprecedented, historic support events such as the sending of 50 radio amateurs, the "Force of Fifty," to Puerto Rico at the request of the Red Cross, have all contributed to a hurricane season to remember. There has been extensive coverage of the radio amateur responses across the board in numerous media, including the ARRL news and information services, and extensive support for the amateur efforts coming from ARRL HQ staff including Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, who traveled to Puerto Rico to support the team of deployed radio amateurs.

For comprehensive information, check the following links: To start off, see this page, or, which includes information, resources and news summarizing the amateur response that has been supporting emergency communications to aid hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and throughout the storm ravaged Caribbean. See the following links for information of Amateur involvement on each of the respective hurricanes:

IARU Region 2 Announces Ham Aid Donation of Funds and Equipment (10/6/17)

Make a donation: Donate to Ham Aid


Florida Statewide Policy on ARES and Other Volunteer Communicators Issued

During last month's hurricane emergencies, the ARRL was asked to share the following from the Communications Branch Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management:

"The State of Florida appreciates the service of ARES. State of Florida SEOC and its staff will never request individuals or provide individuals any information on an incident. All requests for individuals in the ARES program in the State of Florida will follow the North Florida ARES Plan and direction of their Section Manager Stephen Szabo (WB4OMM). Absolutely no direct communications to the SEOC or its staff is to be made by individuals to request to be deployed or provide services at anytime."

"Any amateur wishing to volunteer to assist needs to go through the ARRL Northern Florida Manager Steve Szabo's established processes, as that is the system Florida Emergency Management is utilizing to coordinate Amateur Radio activities. Under no circumstances should individual Amateurs contact Florida Emergency Management.

"We also remind ARRL/ARES volunteers who may be assisting in support of the ongoing relief and recovery efforts that the only persons who should be speaking on behalf of the ARRL or its field organization are the ARRL Section Manager or their Public Information Coordinator/ Public Information Officer. Unfortunately we have had reports of false information being apparently shared via Amateur Radio channels. This type of misinformation can negatively affect the hard work being done by various Emergency Management agencies involved, as well as the various agencies also providing assistance, and can be harmful to the efforts of the Amateur community trying to assist in the response and relief efforts. ARRL SMs, PICs, and PIOs only provide information publicly where it has been vetted by state officials, and only as directed. Unauthorized false reports can seriously and negatively impact the work of relief and recovery officials as well as damage the good relationships that Amateurs have in those relief and recovery communities. Let the trained PICs/PIOs do their jobs!

"Thanks to the hundreds of Amateurs who are providing communications assistance as this story continues to unfold. With everyone working in concert and through appropriate channels, your work is helping make a difference." -- Dan Henderson, N1ND
Assistant Secretary, the American Radio Relay League, Inc.
Regulatory Information Manager


Massive Destruction of Lives and Property in Northern California Firestorms; Amateur Radio in the Mix of Support and Responders

As if the hurricane disasters were not enough, northern California is grappling with wildfire disasters of proportions possibly not seen ever before. For a report on the amateur emergency service response to the horrific firestorms there, see Ham Radio Bridging the Gap in Wildfire-Stricken California. ARRL Section Manager Evacuates When Fire Comes Within Two Blocks. Check regularly for more reports and updates here.

In This Issue:


Other News: Radio Amateurs Volunteer to Support 2017 US Air Force Marathon (9/26/17)

For Monthly ARES Reports and Stats: ARES Annual/Monthly Reports. Check to see if your Section's ARES activity is included. If not, check with your Section Emergency Coordinator.

Pacificon 2017 This Weekend: Don't Miss It!

Pacificon 2017 is the ARRL Pacific Division Convention, sponsored by the Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club, and will be held this weekend, Friday through Sunday, October 20-22, in San Ramon, California, at the San Ramon Marriott hotel. Bill Feist, WB8BZH, National SATERN Liaison, Divisional Disaster Liaison for Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi, will be speaking on both Saturday and Sunday: The Saturday Session will cover SATERN and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications In The 21st Century; Sunday's session will address Salvation Army and SATERN disaster response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Feist, a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), is currently the Divisional Disaster Liaison for the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi (ALM) Division of The Salvation Army. He is responsible for interfacing with all federal and state agencies and non-profit organizations active in disaster work in the three states. He is also the National SATERN Liaison for The Salvation Army. He helped guide the Division's response and recovery efforts in a large variety of major events including Hurricanes Ivan (2004), Katrina and Rita (2005), Gustav (2008) and Isaac (2012). He also initiated the response to the devastating tornado outbreak of April 2011 in Mississippi and Alabama.

Other public service programs will be presented: Kenneth Finnegan, W6KWF, will present Communications Infrastructure for Special Events -- Supporting the Wildflower Triathlon. SKYWARN Training will be offered by Brian Garcia, National Weather Service; Paul Young, K6PDY, founder of NorCal SKYWARN; and Ron Bunch, W4FEK, Mount Diablo ARC Emergency Communications.

Don't miss Pacificon this weekend! More info here.


VoIP Hurricane Net Secures after Nate

The VoIP Hurricane Net activation for Hurricane Nate secured on Sunday, October 8, at 2:00 AM EDT/1:00 AM CDT after Nate made landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi. Nate spared the New Orleans area any significant wind damage and storm surge flooding but pockets of tree and wire damage and wind gusts to hurricane force were recorded in parts of Mississippi and offshore oil platforms in the Louisiana coastal waters. Storm surge values of 3-7 feet were recorded in portions of Southern Alabama, Southern Mississippi and extreme Southeast Louisiana. Some pockets of structural damage were recorded in parts of Mississippi/Alabama from higher wind gusts in severe thunderstorms or possibly tornadic activity. One tornado was spotted in Orange Beach, Alabama by both The Weather Channel media and an Amateur Radio operator that was in the area. Reports from Nate can be seen at the VoIP Hurricane Net viewer.

While Nate was not as formidable as past hurricanes worked this year, reports of SKYWARN reporting criteria were supplied to both local National Weather Service Forecast Offices and WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center, which is the net's main mission to help save lives. Thanks to all for their continued support of the VoIP Hurricane Net! - Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net

Drop, Cover and Hold On -- ARES Invited to Participate, Tomorrow!

Citizens and hams will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:19 AM on October 19 - that's tomorrow -- during Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, which began in California in 2008, and is emphasizing the historically earthquake-prone state again this year. All regions of the country are invited and expected to be active in this important exercise. Participating is a great way for your family or organization to be prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes- wherever you live, work, or travel. ShakeOut is also a major activity of FEMA's Ready program America's PrepareAthon! -- ARRL is an affiliate program of the DHS initiative Citizen Corps. Those amateur groups that cannot hold their ShakeOut drill tomorrow can select another date when registering.

The ShakeOut organization has published basic instructions for how Amateur Radio operators from ARES, MARS, RACES, REACT, and other organizations and their members can plan their drill, tips for getting prepared, and suggestions for sharing the ShakeOut with others.

Register your group to be counted in the ShakeOut Drill, get email updates, and more information. Encourage all members to register their families. Consider what may happen in a major earthquake and plan what your group will do now to prepare, so that when it happens you will be able to recover quickly.

Talk to other radio groups about what they have done, and encourage them to join you in getting more prepared. Meet with your members and colleagues to plan your drill according to your existing procedures or by using one of the four levels of sample drills in the ShakeOut Drill Manual for Non Profits and Other Organizations (PDF). Plan an emergency communications drill to test your group's abilities to provide communications support in a disaster. Download audio and video "drill broadcast" recordings to play during your drill (Video versions have text captions).

On October 19, at 10:19 AM:

Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Drop to the ground, take Cover under a table or desk, and Hold On to it as if a major earthquake were happening (stay down for at least 60 seconds). Test your communication infrastructure and conduct an emergency communications drill. Finally, practice what else your group will do after the shaking stops. After your drill is complete, have discussions about what was learned and incorporate these lessons into your disaster response plan.

Visit MyHazards (California Emergency Management Agency) to discover the hazards that exist in your area and learn how to reduce YOUR risk! Help your members and their families to get prepared. More information is in the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety. Test alliances and MOU's with your critical partners, community leaders and sponsoring organizations. Participate in a CERT training course. Members should check and test their emergency equipment - fire extinguishers, first aid, flashlights, food, generator, fuel, etc. -- Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills

Statewide California Medical Exercise Next Month; Amateur Service Provider Participation Planned

This year the 2017 California Annual Statewide Medical Health Exercise will take place on Thursday, November 16, 2017, with Amateur emergency service groups expected to participate. The Statewide Medical and Health Exercise Program consists of four phases (Multi-media Training, Organizational Self Assessment, Tabletop Exercise, and Functional Exercise) where each phase helps to build on and prepare for the next phase. The program is based on the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) and aligns with Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP)/Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) grants.

Amateur Radio operators around the state support local hospital and medical functions with redundant wireless communications as a component of this annual drill. There are about 350 hospitals in California that participate. From San Diego ARES to the Bay Area Hospital Net (BAHN) and other specialized hospital teams such as ARES LAX (Los Angeles County), Orange County's Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) and Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN), all participate in this exercise. If you are an amateur service operator in California and wish to participate, contact your local ARES, RACES or club.

ARRL Los Angeles Section ARES (ARESLAX) supports the Los Angeles County EMS agency and the County's 74 "9-1-1 receiving" hospitals. Amateur Radio is a formal component of the County EMS Agency's Communications Plan, and ARESLAX support is part of its implementation through reference in the County's Prehospital Care Manual. Accordingly, ARESLAX provides primary emergency communications support at the County Medical Alert Center (MAC) and at most of the 9-1-1 receiving hospitals, except for the Kaiser facilities, which are supported primarily by the Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN) group. For next month's exercise, ARESLAX will be deploying at the MAC and at most of the supported hospitals. One of this year's exercise objectives for hospitals is to test a Joint Commission (a healthcare accrediting entity) Standard that mandates as part of its Emergency Operations Plan, the hospital prepares for how it will communicate during emergencies. One of the sample tasks is to test redundant backup communications systems (of which Amateur Radio is listed as an example) to achieve a Joint Commission Element of Performance.

KPARN coordinator Duane Marriotti, WB9RER, is soliciting members to support the KPARN planned participation, and reports that the Woodland Hills KP hospital has new coax installed to resolve intermittent issues. KPARN Northern California is budgeting to completely update the regional command center Amateur Radio station and antennas in Oakland, which will include new HF systems to improve and assure HF paths from Northern to Southern California. KPARN in Seattle and Portland also have HF capabilities.

The Orange County Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) will be participating with requesting hospitals and county Emergency Medical Services. The HDSCS coordinator, April Moell, WA6OPS, says that specifics of a drill, such as exact frequencies, details of scenarios at individual hospitals, and who will be assigned where, are not discussed on the air, or outlined in non-HDSCS publications to keep activity as realistic as possible and to maintain the integrity of the drill prior to the event. Of course there are written instructions and a meeting prior to any big drill for members. The SWMHE is not an Amateur Radio drill; it is a hospital drill. A lesson learned over almost 37 years of experience with as many as 36 different hospitals, is that HDSCS communicators must learn to drill with the hospitals, not just at them. Moell emphasizes the importance of realistic drills. Too many drills are mostly "demonstrations" of capabilities. But do the hospitals and/or EMS know how to activate an amateur service provider group, rather than having everything set-up and everyone in place when the fire bell rings and then the drill starts? Do hospital staff learn about sending messages via Amateur Radio or do the hams create all the messages? Individuals, radio groups, EMS, and the hospitals learn the wrong things as a result and/or have unrealistic expectations as to what happens when hams show up or don't know how the hams can help. "The overall goal is that if we train and drill properly, hopefully we won't be able to tell a drill from the real emergency," Moell said.

Exercise "A Real Test of Interoperability" in Southern California

HDSCS members recently participated in the second all city/county RACES and MOU partners drill of the year. This is a rapid paced drill testing city and county RACES groups, HDSCS, and Red Cross in getting messages through to one another in two hours. It's a real test of interoperability forcing radio operators to move around to different frequencies to pass their messages. And with a very busy net, operators are also required to prioritize the messages they are asked to handle. The scenario involved a major heat wave that ultimately led to a countywide power outage. This caused problems for hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living settings, particularly for those without generators. With traffic lights out, intersections were gridlocked. HDSCS members simulated being at 22 hospitals and the Health EOC. One member actually deployed to the county EOC to handle a position for HDSCS in the RACES radio room. Approximately 35 messages were handled on behalf of the hospitals. - April Moell, WA6OPS, HDSCS, Orange County, California

[Editor's Note: A year ago the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers Final Rule, which "establishes national emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers to plan adequately for both natural and man-made disasters." It poses a potentially profound opportunity for Amateur Radio emergency communication providers in hospital settings. Click here for the new Federal rules, which must be met by next month; see also September 2017 QST's Public Service column for discussion.]

4th Annual National Tribal Emergency Management Conference

During the week of September 18-22, 2017, the largest gathering of tribal disaster preparedness, recovery, hazard mitigation, and homeland security professionals in the country took place in the ARRL San Joaquin Valley (SJV) Section. This conference was hosted by the Tachi-Yokut Tribe at their Santa Rosa Rancheria in Lemoore, California, and ARES/RACES was once again a mainstay of the program.

As part of the pre-conference activities on Monday and Tuesday, Hal Clover, AD9HC, a professional adult educator, taught a Technician license class and achieved a 100% pass rate. Newly licensed amateurs were Gary Walker, KM6MWX, Tribal Council Chairman, North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in the ARRL SJV Section; James McCabe, KM6MWV, Emergency Manager, Susanville Indian Rancheria in the ARRL Sacramento Valley Section; Adrian McDonald, KD2OGJ, and Katrina Jacobs, KD2OGK, both with the Emergency Planning Office of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in the ARRL Northern New York Section; Steve De Los Angeles, KI7QEH, Tribal Council Member, Snoqualmie Tribe in the ARRL Western Washington Section; and Elizabeth Klute, KI7QEI (ex-KA7RYZ), Northwest Regional Emergency Manager (OR/WA/ID/MT/ND), Emergency Management & Corporate Security (EMCS) Department, National Railroad Passenger Corporation - Amtrak.

The Tulare County ARES set up and supported a special event station (W7NTV) on the lawn just outside the conference rooms for all five days. One of the station volunteers, Jackey Burns, KK6VOJ, said, "Supporting this event is personally very important to me as one of my grandparents was a full-blooded native American, and this gives me a way to connect." During the conference, the station exchanged Priority messages on 20 meters between the Tribal Liaison Officer with the Centers for Disease Control (who was attending the conference) and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida regarding a physician needed by the tribe in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Hams were involved in the conference program as well. Scott Mercer, KM6FKL, was part of the Tachi-Yokut color guard during the opening drum. Nathan Nixon, N7NAN, presented "Emergency Support Function 2 - Communications" and "ICIN - Indian Country Intelligence Network." Elizabeth Klute, KI7QEI, spoke about "Amtrak Safety for Tribal Responders." Jim Lundsted, N0TWR, with the DHS Office of Emergency Communications, presented "Collaborative Emergency Management Planning and Resources" and gave another talk explaining the activities of his office. Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, hosted a "Getting Started with Your Handheld Ham Radio" workshop, which included a live practicum during which attendees were able to practice radio communications and overcome mic fright. Adam Geisler, KJ6YHN, moderated an interactive discussion about FirstNet. Tracy Depew, KI7EGC, gave a presentation titled "FEMA HMA External Stakeholder Working Group and PDM in Indian Country."

Throughout the week, tribal and non-tribal conference attendees visited the special event station. Hal Clover, AD9HC, a DEC in the SJV Section, put ARES/RACES involvement at the conference into perspective, "Locally, the tribal community contributes to their surrounding community. It was great to be able to work with them to promote amateur radio. Our hope is that it will foster an interest that will broaden the good will of the hobby between both partners."

The National Tribal Emergency Management Council, the organizers of these conferences, has already announced that the 5th Annual Tribal Emergency Management Conference will be held August 20-24, 2018, at Airway Heights, Washington. -- Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, Assistant State RACES Officer (Tribal Liaison), Washington State

First Responders' Media Give Kudos to Amateur Radio Role in Disaster Relief

"Sometimes it seems we simply assume our communications networks and the Internet will be available all the time, but during Harvey, Irma, and now Maria, many learned that communications capabilities, one of the most important links for all of us, may not always be available when we want them and need them. While our infrastructure companies work at making our systems better, there are times when nature's fury beats our best efforts. The good news is that when all else fails there will still be amateur radio!" -- All Things FirstNet. Read the full story. -- ARRL Sacramento Valley Section News

NPR Covers Amateur Radio Disaster Support in Puerto Rico Relief

On September 29, NPR's "All Things Considered" program aired a report on the service that radio amateurs are providing in response to aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Listen to the report.

Section News

Section News: 2017 Western Pennsylvania SET "Very Successful': Saturday, October 7th was the date for the ARRL Western Pennsylvania Section's 2017 SET. In the weeks leading up to the event, the section's DECs and ECs worked hard to finish all the preparation it takes to have a great exercise, and that was the result. At 9:00 AM, the WPA ARES Voice Net was called up, with the next four hours filling the airwaves with messages and reports of ARES SET activities. Both National Weather Service stations WX3PIT and WX3CTP were operational and on the air to accept SKYWARN reports from the field. K3MJW was on the air as the Section Incident Command station, and established ongoing communication with the District Command Stations.

Each ARES team set up communications with their local coordinating station, and a substantial amount of traffic was handled by all stations. The Weather Service staff was impressed by the SKYWARN reports they received from the SET particpants. -- ARRL WPA Section News

Washington and Multnomah, Oregon County ARES Groups Assisted Public Safety for the Oregon International Airshow, September 22-24 -- Washington County and Multnomah County ARES programs along with local members of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) joined forces with various public safety emergency services, supporting their efforts in an auxiliary capacity for the show. The mission of ARES and CERT members included: Assisting people locate lost family members; increasing response time by public safety personnel, should an emergency arise; providing auxiliary radio communications, should a significant event overwhelm public safety radio communications assets; providing directions (or escort) to local public service and safety areas, for situations such as minor injuries, water, etc; providing organizational literature; and recruiting new members.

Washington County ARES works to accommodate the specific needs of the County, while maintaining communications interoperability with the remainder of the state, and nation. Within the County, Washington County ARES officially serves the Countywide Dispatch Center, the

Sheriff's Office, the Department of Land use and Transportation, nine cities, three hospitals, two public utilities, and one fire agency. As such, Washington County ARES, by means of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is authorized to conduct emergency communications for those agencies. -- Ivan R. Loock, N7PRM, ARRL Public Information Officer

K1CE For a Final: Notes from Irma

Here on the Florida peninsula, as Irma took aim with its giant swath, I was ordered under "house arrest" into the Volusia county public hospital where I work, for the storm's duration. The hospital is ten stories high, and I offered to serve as a human repeater if necessary. I checked the Volusia County Disaster App frequently to find information and the census of area Red Cross shelters, which, according to what I heard, were served by radio amateurs. After the passage of the storm and authorities opened the roads for regular travel, I drove home, observing the jaw-dropping, extensive damage to trees, power lines, homes, stores, bulletin boards and other structure. I assessed my neighborhood and checked to see if neighbors were okay. Some were returning to their homes after driving as much as or more than a thousand miles during what was described in the media as the largest evacuation in US history. I could see the looks of weary fatigue patently on their faces.

Which brings me to my point: Consider joining or starting a neighborhood CERT team. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a FEMA initiative under the Ready program's Citizen Corps, of which the ARRL is an affiliate. From FEMA: "The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. Through CERT, the capabilities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters is built and enhanced."

One of the many aspects of this program that I like is that the radio amateur does not have to leave his home and family to travel in a potentially unstable environment for a deployment somewhere distant. Instead, he or she "deploys in place." He or she can take care of his/her home and family, while also assessing his neighborhood for damage and injuries possibly requiring outside support from first responders, making their response possible through radio communications to the EOC, ARES and other nets. CERT functions can include damage assessment, basic triage, First Aid, light search and rescue, and fire and flood control.

Unlike first responders, radio amateurs are found in just about every neighborhood throughout the country, ready to respond "in place." Make joining or starting a CERT team in your neighborhood a priority this post-hurricane season. There is a wealth of information on the website for CERT.

And last but not least, make a donation to Ham Aid. I just did, and it felt good to know my contribution will help put radio gear in the hands of those who need it most: the operators in the trenches of many current disaster areas, such as in Puerto Rico. Donate to Ham Aid!


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