Register Account

Login Help

ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
February 20, 2019
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES Briefs, Links

Cuban Amateurs Respond to Severe Tornado -- On January 27, radio amateurs in Cuba's capital of Havana were keeping an eye on the weather. With a low-pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico and cold front approaching, severe weather resulted with conditions that deteriorated during the evening and night hours. An F4 tornado hit Havana, the first tornado ever to hit the city. "Once again, Amateur Radio operators proved how they could handle emergency traffic during the severe weather event, when the 2G and 3G mobile cellular phone systems collapsed due to damage and the excessive traffic generated by the incident," Radio Havana's Arnie Coro, CO2KK, reported. More here.

ARRL Board Meets in January: ARES Plan Adopted, National Traffic System Embraced

The ARRL Board of Directors - the League's elected policymakers -- met in formal session last month, taking significant actions of special interest to ARES, NTS and other amateur emergency communications communities.

The chairman of the Public Service Enhancement Working Group (PSEWG), Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, updated the Board on how the committee had incorporated comments gathered from last fall's survey into its report and the new ARES Strategic Plan draft. The Board adopted the ARES Plan as proposed by the PSEWG and recommended by its Programs and Services Committee. The new, full ARES Plan can be viewed here.

Under the new plan, there are three ways to serve with commensurate levels of training requirements that will allow ARES participants to enter the program, and if they choose, migrate to higher levels of qualification and service. Level 1 is the basic ARES level, with introductory training conducted by the local ARES group to meet their needs and those of their served agency or partners. This training could be formal or informal, and would introduce the ARES participant to the fundamentals of emergency communications and provide instruction on how participants are to conduct themselves while serving in the field or otherwise activated. Participants may elect to remain at this level, or any level, based upon the extent of their desired ARES involvement.

Level 2 -- To qualify for this level, participants must complete the following courses: ARRL's EC-001 Introduction to Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (a no-cost program) and the now ubiquitous FEMA Independent Study courses IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800 that lend critical knowledge for operating efficiently under the Incident Command System. Participants are also encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities available through partners to enhance their knowledge and skill set.

Level 3 -- The successful candidate will complete training that prepares them to assume ARES leadership positions, including the key program coordinators: the local/county Emergency Coordinator (EC), Assistant District EC, District EC, Assistant SEC, and the Section Emergency Coordinator. Leaders are required to complete ARRL's EC-016, Emergency Communications for Management, and FEMA Professional Development Series courses IS-120, IS-230, IS-240, IS-241, IS-242, IS-244, and IS-288, the Role of Voluntary Organizations in Emergency Management. Participants also are encouraged to complete the FEMA courses IS-300, and IS-400 should they be available locally.

Readers are encouraged to review the entire new plan, as it represents the first major program changes in decades and will form the cornerstone for the venerable ARES program going forward. PSEWG Chairman Williams said the adoption of the ARES Plan is not the end of this process. "ARES cannot remain stagnant only to be updated once every few generations. The ARES Plan, and the ARES program, must be able to evolve," he said, adding that the emergency preparedness staff at ARRL headquarters will conduct an annual ARES Review to insure continued program relevance. There is more discussion of the new ARES Plan from ARRL Communications Manager David Isgur, N1RSN, here.

Wlliams noted that after finishing the ARES portion of its agenda, it will move to work on aspects of the National Traffic System. The Board adopted a resolution recognizing that the National Traffic System provides a large corps of operators experienced in formal third party message handling and routing procedures, dedicated to providing emergency communications via radio. The Board noted that NTS uses all modes as appropriate and needed. The Board affirmed ARRL support for the National Traffic System and all amateurs involved in traffic handling, and their role as partners to ARES in ARRL's public service toolkit. The Board recognized the role and value of ARES and NTS in directly serving the public in addition to partnering with served agencies.

In other actions, the Board created a committee to establish the requirements for the ARRL's Emergency Preparedness Manager function. The committee, to be known as the EmComm Manager Requirements Committee, was charged with filing a final report two weeks before the Board reconvenes in July 2019.

Florida Emergency Communications Conference Features Major Exercise "Viral Duo"

A highly successful, well-attended 2019 Florida Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference was held February 2-3 on the campus of Santa Fe College, in Gainesville. Numerous seminars were presented by leading subject matter experts from across the state, many with recent experience in responses to major hurricanes such as Hurricane Michael. The conference was sponsored and conducted by the North Florida Amateur Radio Club, Santa Fe Amateur Radio Society and Alachua county ARES. The stated conference goal was "to improve citizen volunteer Amateur Radio emergency communications." A two-hour full scale exercise galvanized the conferees on Saturday morning.

Following conferee registration and introductions, Joe Bassett, W1WCN, presented on "Volunteer Ham Radio Team Building that Maximizes all Volunteers." Bassett downplays the term "volunteer" in favor of recognition of "call to service above self," something greater than merely volunteering. "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," and "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," were discussed.

Next was a discussion of the use of ICS forms for record-keeping and management of deployments, and the introduction of the full scale exercise using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guiding principles and FEMA standards with personal advice from former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ.

Field Exercise Challenges Conferees

The group of 56 attendees was split into two strike teams with leaders picked. Teams were then physically deployed to two locations, simulating evacuation shelters, in the Gainesville area. Role playing shelter managers were designated, along with an Incident Commander, Florida Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and Florida Amateur Radio Point of Contact (FARPOC) for communications with the State EOC in Tallahassee.

The "Viral Duo" scenario was a public health emergency -- an epidemic caused by a virulent pathogenic virus -- and a computer virus that took down the Internet on an overwhelming scale. The exercise gave the participants opportunities to set-up antennas and use their radios in the field to report and pass traffic between the two shelter sites and the command net control station on the campus. Participants also had to fill out logs of activity, check-in operators, log events, and messages, all using appropriate ICS forms.

Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Karl Martin, KG4HBN, was designated Logistics Chief and FARPOC, controlling the VHF/HF Command Net and could communicate via WinLink, serving the strike teams at the shelters. Communicators were presented with numerous exercise injects (simulated problems/issues)

Putting up antenna mast section for Exercise "Viral Duo," 2019 Florida Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference and Exercise, Gainesville, Florida (K1CE photo)

during the course of the exercise with the teams having to address them on the fly. One inject included repeaters going down requiring moves to other repeaters and/or simplex channels. With the Internet down, email messages with ICS forms attached were passed via HF and VHF packet and WinLink.

At the conclusion of the two-hour exercise, a full scale exercise hot wash was conducted. Discussion then continued on how to plan, create and execute full scale exercises.

Section Emergency Coordinator Martin's message to the conferees included this: "Hurricane Michael was a learning experience for everyone. The operators during Michael did a fantastic job. People from all across Florida came out to help. The Northern Florida Section was tasked to cover 30 shelters, county EOCs and the State EOC." An After Action Report was published and Martin said an action plan will be ready in time for the 2019 hurricane season.

A workshop was conducted on a simple Wi-Fi-based shelter bulletin system for use by shelter residents to keep informed, using a Raspberry Pi and inexpensive Wi-Fi home router that residents could connect to with smartphones, tablets, and laptops. An introduction to media and public relations was presented by ARRL Section Public Information Officer Scott Roberts, KK4ECR. Other training workshops included traffic handling in ARES nets, computer and Internet tips for emergency and disaster communications, solar power systems, Powerpole® connector installation, and wiring radios for Signalink and digital modes/devices.

Hands-on VHF/HF Go-Box construction and building rapidly deployable antennas workshops were conducted in the main conference room and outside. A hands-on WinLink training session was conducted by Gordon Gibby, KX4Z [see editorial note at the end of this issue on my new experience with WinLink - Ed.] A Solder Session was conducted with the project of building a digital interface system.

Alachua county EC Jeff Capehart, W4UFL, presented learning sessions on working well with the EOC, and the new ARESConnect management system currently being rolled out throughout the ARRL Field Organization.

The conference was rounded out with talks on the Neighborhood Ham Watch program and "Teaching Ham Radio Courses using ARRL Slides." The conference concluded on Sunday afternoon, with feedback forms filled out by conferees: All were in agreement that the conference had been highly worthwhile and effective in training and understanding of modern ARES support of partner agencies under the Incident Command System umbrella that is now almost all-encompassing in emergency management in this country.

Exercise After Action Report (AAR)

View the Florida conference exercise After Action Report and Improvement Plan here. A bound print copy is available on Amazon here. Excellent resources referenced at the conference include the following:

· "The Blank Book," 2018 Alachua County Emergency Communications Reference (2nd Ed.) contains blank ICS forms and other key forms of interest to active radio amateur emergency communicators. Available at Amazon.

· The proceedings of the 2018 Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Symposium can be purchased on Amazon. It is expected that the proceedings from the 2019 conference will also be available.

Editorial: Do Double Duty for Public Service and Personal Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports data that over one third (39.8%) of US adults are obese [see CDC report]. The CDC says Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Here's something all of us can do for both public service and personal health: combine your public event communications services with participation in the event. For example, last May, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Bike MS: Citrus Tour 2018 was run with the ARRL West Central Florida Section amateurs providing communications support for the Support and Gear (SAG) vehicles, bike mechanics and multiple rest stops. The traditional model of Amateur Radio support is of deployment of operators to ride in the SAG vehicles, shadow race officials, course and rest stop coordinators, and other mission critical sites such as the start and finishing lines.

A potential new model of support would be to add radio operators on bicycles, actually riding in the event, a win-win scenario: the event safety committee gets more saturation of course situational awareness, and the operators get a healthy dose of exercise, burning off the calories of the doughnuts likely consumed at the pre-dawn briefing. (Check with your doctor first, and start slowly at first). Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) by using a BMI calculator from the National Institutes of Health.

Work on getting yourself in the healthy normal weight region of the BMI tables -- feel better physically and mentally, and most importantly, enjoy Amateur Radio for a lot longer in life. A great way to do it is by encouraging yourself and fellow radio amateurs who provide Amateur Radio communications at public events such as the Citrus Tour to fully engage in the event as a participant, too. Do Double Duty: Radio and Ride! -- Rick Palm, K1CE, Registered Nurse

Want to Make a Good Impression? Wear the Professional-Appearing ARES Polo Shirt

I attended the Florida Emergency Communications Conference recently and noted a number of attendees wearing the ARES Polo shirt. It lent a professional appearance for the wearer and for the conference over all. The shirt works well with a clean and pressed set of khakis. Designed specifically for public service and ARES volunteers, this sport polo features the ARES logo on the front left chest. 60% polyester and 40% cotton, lightweight with relaxed fit, wrinkle and shrink resistant. Color: Navy. Sizes Small - 4XL. Available in the ARRL Store here. [I ordered mine this week and will post a pic in next month's issue. - K1CE]

Section News

Arizona to Host AuxComm Training

Pima County Office of Emergency Management is hosting the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Division of Emergency Management AuxComm training course, March 23-24. Nearly all states/territories have incorporated some level of participation by Amateur Radio auxiliary communication operators into their tactical interoperable communications planning and statewide communications interoperability planning. This course focuses on auxiliary communications interoperability, the relationship between the COML and the volunteer, EOC etiquette, on-the-air etiquette, FCC rules and regulations, auxiliary communications training and planning, and emergency communications deployment. It is intended to supplement and standardize an operator's experience and knowledge of emergency Amateur Radio communications in a public safety context. The course is two days long (10 hours each day) and is limited to 30 students. Registration: This course requires self-registration through the State's online registration system. More info here, see newsletter page 11.

Sacramento Section CERT Training

Sacramento Metro Fire Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will be offering the FEMA CERT Basic Class over four sessions from March 7-16. The class is a free 24 hour course for people who live or work in the area served by Sac Metro Fire. The class trains participants in Disaster Preparedness and Response Skills including Fire Safety, light Search and Rescue, and disaster Medical Operations. Graduates of the course will be better prepared to care for themselves, their family, and their community in the event of a disaster, and will be eligible to volunteer as a member of Sacramento Metro Fire Community Emergency Response Team. The class is only offered twice a year, and fills up quickly. Article by AD6DM on FEMA CERT Basic Training

K1CE For a Final: Get a WinLink Call Sign and Operating Experience

I attended the 2019 Florida Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference in Gainesville, February 2-3. There were many takeaways for the more than 50 conferees in attendance. Among the many for me, a major one was to more fully grasp the critical significance of the WinLink system as an emergency communications resource. It was at the center of the full scale exercise conducted Saturday morning.

WinLink is a worldwide radio email service that sends email where the Internet is down or not present. It can operate without the Internet--automatically--using a network radio relay station. Users can send email with attachments, position reporting, weather and information bulletins, highly useful in disaster response.

I found WinLink easy to use with my digital sound card interface (a West Mountain Radio Rigblaster Plug and Play), and HF rig. I registered for my WinLink call sign, downloaded the WinLink Express program, entered my basic data including grid square, and connected to a gateway station (KX4Z, on 80-meters USB) to send and receive email. Try it, you'll like it. Download WinLink Express here and get started.

There is a Florida WinLink Net, and each Monday, a special task is injected and newcomers to WinLink can gain experience.


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