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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
April 17, 2019
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
Just In: Shelby, Ohio Tornado Brings ARES/SKYWARN Response

On Monday, Ohio Section Manager Scott Yonally, N8SY, reported the following: "We had an EF-2 [indicates wind speeds of 113-157 mph] tornado come through and tear up the small city of Shelby, about 100 miles north of Dayton, Ohio. The tornado was on the ground for approximately six minutes, traveling 17 miles and had a width of one half-mile. We had only six injuries and no deaths, due in part to the ARES/SKYWARN operations involved in getting observations to the Cleveland Weather Office in enough time so that warnings were issued about 10 minutes prior to the tornado actually touching down.

"Richland County ARES was then called to the scene to assist with communications and security watch until around midnight when the electric company had restored power lines and secured roads until daylight when operations would resume. An After Action Report will be filed in the near future."

Images, video and audio of the event can be found on the section's website here.


ARRL National Convention at Dayton Hamvention®: Essentials for ARES® Community

The ARRL National Convention at Dayton Hamvention is next month, May 17-19, 2019, and will feature ARRL Expo and a number of exhibits, forums and presentations of special interest to the amateur public service and emergency communications communities. The event is the largest of its kind in the world, and will be held at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, 120 Fairground Road, Xenia, Ohio. Official websites are:



Great Opportunity for Serious Training: AUXCOMM Course To be Held Pre-Hamvention -- Register Now

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Returns to Provide Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) Training in Conjunction with Hamvention 2019 -- The Emergency Communications Division (ECD) of DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will be on hand at Hamvention 2019 to conduct its nationally recognized NIMS/ICS compliant AuxComm course. Over 2,500 Amateur Radio operators from around the country have taken this course. The course purpose is to train qualified amateurs to assist their local, county and state governments with emergency backup communications. The course introduces the auxiliary communicator to the other positions within the Communications Unit (COMU) and how to provision emergency communications in a public safety context. The course also goes deeper into the National Incident Management System framework. The location of the course is the Courtyard by Marriott in Beavercreek, Ohio, May 14-16. Registration for this class may close early when all available seats are taken.

Registration for this course is ongoing: Students wishing to attend the DHS Auxiliary Communications (AuxComm) Course must meet all prerequisites and provide electronic/scanned images of the required documents prior to May 1, 2019. More info here.

Dayton Forums of Interest to ARES Members

Friday, May 17:

Homeland Security -- John Peterson (from DHS/OEC) 12:00-1:50 Room 1

MARS, the Military Auxiliary Radio System -- Paul English, WD8DBY, 10:25-11:25 Room 2

National Weather Service -- Brandon Peloquin 1:10-2:30 Room 2

ARRL Public Service Communications: Panel Discussion -- 2:25-3:40 Room 2

SHARES HF EMCOMM, the Federal government's HF radio system -- Ross Merlin, WA2WDT 9:15-10:15 Room 4

Saturday, May 18:

AREDN, the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network -- Andre Hansen, K6AH, 1:50-3:20 Room 2

SATERN, the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network -- Bill Feist, WB8BZH, 11:45-1:00 Room 5

Sunday, May 19:

Power and Energy for the Ham -- Bob Bruninga, WB4APR 10:30-11:30 Room 1

Tornado Alert -- Mickey Lee 9:15-10:15 Room 3

This year's ARRL National Convention at Dayton Hamvention promises to be one of the major gatherings of emergency/disaster response/public event communicators in the country. I am looking forward to meeting and greeting readers of the ARRL ARES E-Letter this year. See you there!

ARES Links, Briefs

The National Hurricane Conference, featuring Amateur Radio Sessions, is next week: Amateur Radio will be represented at the 2019 National Hurricane Conference, April 22 - 25 in New Orleans. "Improving Hurricane Preparedness" is the traditional conference theme. A series of free Amateur Radio sessions will take place on Tuesday, April 23, starting at 10:30 AM and continuing until 5 PM. Presenters will offer an overview of their respective organizations and discuss actions taken during the significant hurricanes of 2017 and 2018. More info here: Amateur Radio Sessions Set for 2019 National Hurricane Conference

ARRL President Commends Amateur Radio's Volunteer Public Service Role during National Volunteer Week (4/8/19)

Department of Defense to Transmit Interoperability Exercise Info via WWV/WWVH (3/29/19)

National VOAD Conference 2019, May 6-9, Nashville, Tennessee -- The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Conference is unique in that it brings together volunteers, practitioners, and experts across disaster relief sectors. Professionals and volunteers in the emergency management field come to share their experiences, consider new concepts, and develop whole community solutions to build more resilient communities. The ARRL is a longstanding member of NVOAD.

The FEMA Disaster Emergency Communications News Clipping and Topics of Interest, Volume 8, Issue 6, for March 16-31, 2019 featured Amateur Radio-related items. The first, "WinLink Gains International Notoriety as a Critical Tool During and After Emergencies" (March 20, 2019), was submitted by FEMA Region IV Regional Emergency Communications Coordinator (RECC) Donnie Monette. The article was clipped from last month's ARES E-Letter article "ITU Teams with Americas' Telecoms and IARU, discusses WinLink," which highlighted the international integration of WinLink into emergency response operations. WinLink is a worldwide email service that is built, operated, and administered entirely by Amateur Radio operators.

A second item, "Colorado ARES Volunteers Muster for 'Bomb Cyclone' Winter Storm," March 26, 2019, reported on ARES volunteers in Colorado stepping up as a mid-month "bomb cyclone" winter storm struck the state, with heavy rain shifting to heavy snowfall. The storm affected several states and led to significant flooding in Nebraska. [See related stories below].

"Bomb Cyclone," and Flooding Responses: Colorado and Nebraska

On Wednesday, March 13, a "bomb cyclone" hit Colorado and affected multiple states, including causing blizzards in Colorado and historic, significant flooding in Nebraska. ["Bomb Cyclone" is a colloquial term used to describe explosive cyclogenesis, the rapid deepening of an extra-tropical cyclonic low-pressure area. The change in pressure needed to classify something as explosive cyclogenesis is latitude dependent]. In Colorado, 96 MPH winds were reported in Colorado Springs and a record low pressure of 970.4 hPa was reported in Lamar. Accurate snow measurements were impossible.

On Tuesday, ahead of the storm, Pikes Peak ARES alerted its personnel by email and the regularly scheduled Tuesday net and coordinated with a special cadre of ham radio operators in the newly constituted Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (OEM) called the Special Communications Unit, or SCU. Most SCU members are also ARES members, but when called up by the OEM, they wear their SCU hats. The SCU deployed to the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) Tuesday night and were ready to operate first thing in the morning. At the time, the Red Cross did not anticipate needing Pikes Peak ARES support, so the ARES district only anticipated performing weather spotting services for NWS Pueblo and relaying status information to the ECC.

Come Wednesday morning, the timing of the storm had moved up quite a bit and the Red Cross had changed their mind and were now requesting ARES operators in four shelters. This created a problem getting enough volunteers in time and deploying them. Three ARES volunteers were identified and told to deploy, but by then the weather was so severe, only one was able to get through and that was a struggle. The only reason the one did not turn around was he felt it was less safe to try to turn back.

At the request of NWS Pueblo, a formal weather net was established and ran in the formal mode for more than 10 hours, despite the Net Control, Sid White, K4ARM, and his back-up, Dick Stuart, KD8EQ, both losing power for several hours (KD8EQ was without power for roughly 24 hours). Both the SCU operators in the ECC and the NWS were able to directly interact with the approximately 70 operators who provided reports during the storm and its aftermath. The net would continue in an informal mode for another 16 hours until the SCU operators were released from the ECC.

While the net started out as a weather net, it quickly became a common way for operators to report stranded motorists, requests for assistance, abandoned vehicles, Good Samaritan rescues (important so that the ECC could clear police, fire, rescue, and National Guard units from responding), shelter status, and requests about road conditions (the road conditions were "STAY PUT"). Estimates are that around 1000 to 1500 motorists in El Paso county were stuck by the storm, with some motorists not being rescued until the next day.

This event drove home the importance of a few things: First, be prepared. Second, get the message out early and get volunteers identified ahead of time, even if the served agency indicates they won't be needed - it is easier to tell someone to stand down than to get volunteers at the last minute and then deploy them too late. Third, never self-deploy. Many of the people who got stuck were people who went out on their own to rescue someone else - we do not want our operators to become the incident. Next, your own safety is paramount. If you don't think you can safely do what is asked of you, don't.

Fifth, while Good Samaritan rescues are great, they cause a huge headache for the Incident Command and Coordination Centers. People need to check in with their IC or ECC/EOC or their served agency and they need to coordinate what they are doing. In this case, resources were wasted and lives were endangered because incident teams were dispatched to rescue people who had already been rescued by loosely organized groups of 4-wheel drive equipped Good Samaritans.

And finally, when police, fire, OEMs, NWS, news media, etc. are telling people to stay home or seek shelter, follow their advice. There were way too many people on the roads to begin with despite the approaching storm having been talked about for days and warnings being issued. Whether people thought that just because they have a 4wd or SUV they would be OK, or they thought it wouldn't be that bad, or they just felt that they had to go buy something that day, they put a lot of lives at risk.

The Pikes Peak ARES operators and their SCU brethren performed a great service to their community, but hopefully we won't see another bombogenesis event for a long while. -- John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, Emergency Coordinator and Public Information Officer,
Region 2 District 2, Colorado ARES (Pikes Peak ARES)

Personal Perspective from the Nebraska Flood

The March 2019 flood response in Fremont, Nebraska, commenced on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Dodge County Emergency Manager Tom Smith's office in the Dodge County Courthouse in Fremont, with the two of us discussing the situation. I was there to provide him with weather information via the National Weather Service (NWS), and to set up Amateur Radio communications support. The Thursday, March 14 rainfall report showed additional rain had fallen and Smith requested two additional operators. It was apparent that this was going to be a major flood operation, so Emergency Manager Smith and I moved to the Fremont Police Department where he set up the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), with phones, emergency power, and Wi-Fi, located adjacent to the 911 Communications Center.

Melvin Cunningham, K0VLA, established Omaha Metropolitan Medical Response System communications and base station at Methodist Fremont Health, and Steven Narans, WB0VNF, reported to the Lutheran Church shelter. They were relieved later by Frank Veverka, K0AJA, and Joseph Means, N0XAT, who was mobile and sent images and reports of the flooding. Other amateurs sent photos and reports to the base station and system.

On Friday, Cunningham was asked to report to the EOC at 7 AM; I joined him at 10 AM. Field operations continued with Narans coordinating the placement of the volunteer hams. I provided three weather briefings a day at the EOC; answered weather questions and handled most of the coordination with the NWS. I coordinated with ARRL Nebraska Section Emergency Coordinator Edward Holloway, K0RPT, obtaining additional radio amateurs.

As the flood operation continued, it became apparent that regular emergency management communications were holding up; we were there as a back-up service. The EOC closed at 5 PM on Friday, March 22, as the disaster response transitioned into the recovery mode.

Over the course of my career with the NWS, I supported EOCs many times, but this was the first time that I actually operated in one. It has been an educational, enlightening, and rewarding experience. I did something that I thought might be making a difference in my own town in need, with my own friends. I am sure that is true for all volunteers in general and specifically for all the Amateur Radio volunteers. -- Dave Theophilus, W0NRW, Dodge County ARES

[Steve Narans, WB0VNF, who was assigned by Theophilus to the shelter at the First Lutheran Church to help set up communications, filed this report (summarized): "We began to take in evacuees. The situation in Fremont continued to worsen with more residents affected - the shelter was stretched beyond capacity. Three more shelters were opened but the number of evacuees continued to rise. The amateur operators helped with the traffic flow of evacuees, incoming donations, ran hundreds of messages, and assisted with shelter needs for four days. Operators set up and operated a station at the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) at Clamar School, which helped us with communications flow between the VRC and the shelters. We also helped set up a food and supply distribution center for affected residents, and provided communications.

"On Tuesday March 19, I was appointed to help process donations coming in from around the country. On Friday, March 22, I was given the task of finding a warehouse for donations and supplies. I worked with the Salvation Army and AmeriCorps to develop a system of receiving, inventorying and shipping to two locations. Storage items included household furniture, appliances, and basic bedroom supplies, which included mattresses, bedding and blankets. An additional warehouse received all the donations for the victims of our flood - hygiene supplies, bottled water, food, clothes, bathroom supplies, etc.

"The system work flow went perfectly, but they were many trips, near misses and confusion every step of the way. We worked through it, worked together as a team and made it work. I am now looking at ways that we can serve other cities in Dodge County. Every day is evolving."]

NOAA Warns of Increased Flood Risk this Spring

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released the U.S. Spring Flood and Climate Outlook. The majority of the country is expected to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing flood risk. Portions of the United States - especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska - have already experienced record flooding this year. This early flooding was caused by rapid snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas with high levels of soil moisture. The latest information for a specific area, including official watches and warnings are available at

Personnel Changes to the ARRL Public Service Enhancement Working Group; Issues to be Considered

With the completion of a number of the major tasks that it had been assigned, including the establishment of the ARES Plan, a standard set of principles and guidelines for emergency preparedness volunteers, and the launch of the new volunteer database management program ARES Connect, a number of the original members of the Public Service Enhancement Working Group (PSEWG) have decided to step down and let another group of volunteers lead the PSEWG on to the next phase of tasks that need to be accomplished.

ARRL Roanoke Division Director George "Bud" Hippisley, W2RU, is now the new chairman of the PSEWG, taking over that role from Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK. Williams stepped away from the PSEWG chairmanship upon being named chair of the ARRL's Programs and Services Committee, to which the PSEWG reports. Also joining the PSEWG as a new member is Northwestern Division Vice Director Mark Tharp, KB7HDX. Tharp takes over for Pacific Division Director James Tiemstra, K6JAT, who has been elected to the ARRL Executive Committee. Another original member of the PSEWG who recently stepped down from the group is former Northwestern Division Director Jim Pace, K7CEX, who decided not to run for re-election this past year.

Continuing members of the PSEWG are ARRL Emergency Preparedness Assistant Ken Bailey, K1FUG; ARRL Field Organization Team Supervisor Steve Ewald, WV1X; and ARRL Communications Manager David Isgur, N1RSN.

Among the issues that the PSEWG will be tackling in the months ahead:

 Developing a system for collaboration between ARES and the National Traffic System.

 Updates to the ARRL's EC-001 and EC-016 courses.

 Roll out of an ARES Taskbook

 Review and update of the ARRL's Ham Aid Kits Deployment Policy

Currently the PSEWG conducts most of its deliberations by email coupled with a weekly or bi-weekly teleconference. Outgoing Chair Williams and Incoming Chair Hippisley both expressed their appreciation for the extensive ongoing support being provided to the PSEWG by HQ Staffers Ewald, Bailey, and Isgur. Hippisley also thanked Williams for the work he has done in leading the PSEWG since its inception more than three years ago. "I am grateful for the foundation that Dale and his team have established for us to build upon in the months ahead," Hippisley said.

Also, the PSEWG wishes to express its thanks to the many field volunteers and emergency communications groups that provided input and review comments on the way to creating the ARES Plan that was approved at January's Board meeting. Hippisley added that he expects the PSEWG to again solicit and incorporate field input as it continues working on its remaining tasks.

Letters: Expecting Great Things from the New ARES Plan

There are great things in the future for ARES with the program's new Strategic Plan - the ARES Plan -- and the training recommendations in the plan. I am anxious to see what the complete training program will look like, complete with the Task Book that is mentioned. I believe that the Task Book will be a good thing as it will be proof to emergency managers that the operators have an idea of what they are doing and may open some more doors to Amateur Radio. -- Jerry Palmer, N3KRX, ARRL Emergency Communications Course Mentor

Florida Section Emergency Coordinators Meet with State Communication Leaders

Fort Myers, Florida, February 25, 2019 - Florida's three Section Emergency Coordinators (from the Northern, West Central and Southern Florida ARRL Sections) met in February with State Emergency Management communication leaders to discuss improved integration of Amateur Radio during emergencies. The importance of Amateur Radio was realized in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael's destructive impact that directly affected communications from the area. In some counties, it was the only means of communicating with emergency management officials.

A problem in coordinating these volunteer communicators was a lack of an effective Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ARES and the State of Florida. During the meeting, this element was discussed, and a draft was presented for further consideration. The MOU, if agreed upon, will make ARES and Amateur Radio a valid resource that can be easily requested for an incident. Ben Henley, KI4IGX, West Central Florida Section Emergency Coordinator, said that "For the first time ARES will be integrated into the State Communication Team." This concept is one that is not currently established within the system and has resulted in the inability to pre-stage Amateur Radio assets prior to an incident like a hurricane.

It was discussed how important the first 24 hours are during an incident when normal communication systems fail, requiring an effective backup service like Amateur Radio. To facilitate deployment of communication resources more effectively, the three Sections previously agreed to work together as one entity during an incident. According to Henley, "There is better cooperation among all three Florida Sections and the State of Florida."

Changes to the current way in which ARES operators are credentialed, trained and deployed are necessary also. For this to happen it will require effort from everyone in the Florida Amateur Radio community. Karl Martin, KG4HBN, the Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator, said "This is a team effort -- without the team working together we get nothing accomplished."

The SEC's and State leaders look forward to working together in the future to ensure an effective response when Amateur Radio backup communications is requested. - John Wells, W4CMH, ARRL PIO and Southern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator

Letters: Tip for Passing the Basic FEMA ICS Courses

I found an item that is very helpful if readers need help passing the introductory ICS courses -- go here and download this document:

It has a complete table of all the positions and their leaders and assistants with explanatory material on all portions of the Incident Command System -- it is just like the Armed Forces making every single boot camp recruit learn the chain of command in their branch. Keep this readily at hand while you are working your way through the ICS courses and looking at their exams; it may help significantly. -- Gordon Gibby, KX4Z, ARRL Emergency Communications Course Mentor, Gainesville, Florida

ARRL Section News

NVIS Day in Ohio

The ARRL Ohio Section is running its NVIS Day Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 10 AM-4 PM local time. Near Vertical Incidence Skywave, better known as NVIS, is a technique that allows operators to use HF transceivers for highly reliable short-range communication.

The goal of the exercise is to have stations ready to establish and maintain high-reliability communication with other stations around Ohio when repeaters, phone, and internet service are impaired. When infrastructure isn't there, HF radio using NVIS propagation offers the ability to stay in contact on frequencies of 2-30 MHz for distances of about 30-400 miles. The exchange is six-digit grid square, power, and true--measured--signal report. Ohio amateurs can inform others when they'll be operating, and how to find them by registering here. -- C. Matthew Curtin, KD8TTE, Ohio Assistant SEC; and Stan Broadway, N8BHL, Ohio SEC

K1CE For a Final: Bill Santelmann, N1AU, SK

If it wasn't for my Elmer (mentor), Bill Santelmann, N1AU, who passed away recently, I may not have composed this newsletter for you. More importantly, if it wasn't for Bill, I may not have enjoyed Amateur Radio so passionately for these past 43 years. Bill looked like a character out of an old Gil cartoon: he had a round, jovial face always with a big grin. Most of all, he loved helping new hams like me discover the wonders of Amateur Radio, especially contesting and public service. As a new ham in 1976, Bill extended to me a warm invitation to join the Lexington (Massachusetts) Amateur Radio Club (LARC), which I accepted. I served the club as newsletter editor, and when in 1979 I interviewed for the position of Membership Services Assistant at ARRL HQ, I presented several issues of the newsletter as evidence of writing ability. Bill played a profound role in not only my avocation, but my professional career as well. Thanks, Bill. - Rick Palm, K1CE


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