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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
June 19, 2019
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES Briefs, Links

Mexican Amateur Radio Volunteers Providing Communication in Wildfire Response (5/3019) Puerto Rico Declares May 14 as "Radio Amateur Day;" Recognizes Ham Radio "mission of transcendental service for the safeguard of life and property of the people." (5/13/19)

Successful Emergency Messaging Demonstration for FEMA, Red Cross

With Red Cross officials and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel monitoring, dozens of radio amateurs along the US east coast on May 23 demonstrated Amateur Radio's ability to deliver messages without commercial power, infrastructure, or permanently established stations. The event took place in coordination with ARRL. The demonstration was a mock response to a simulated disaster

W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia NJ1Q and ARRL Emergency Preparedness Assistant Manager Ken Bailey, K1FUG, are relaying messages from field operators while Red Cross volunteer (and radio amateur) Rosty Slabicky, W2ROS, looks on. (Photo by Michelle Patnode, W3MVP)

scenario -- a major hurricane with mass casualties. During the event, radio amateurs at portable stations from New England to the Carolinas delivered message traffic to W1AW, where Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, and ARRL Emergency Preparedness Assistant Ken Bailey, K1FUG, coordinated and relayed the information to an amateur station at the Baltimore American Red Cross office for officials attending a joint Red Cross-FEMA meeting there.

"About a dozen stations participated in the demonstration, including operators in Virginia, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, northern New Jersey, western Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina," ARRL Communications Manager Dave Isgur, N1RSN, said. "Red Cross officials were on-site at W1AW and at the receiving station in Baltimore. [Red Cross volunteer Rosty Sablicky, W2ROS, observed the W1AW operation]. At both sites, they indicated that they were impressed with Amateur Radio's ability to deliver messages digitally so that they could be displayed on a computer screen and in a format that matched the format for messages that the Red Cross uses."

ARRL Virginia Section Participates After Rebuilding ARES Program, Enhancing Winlink Capability

In Virginia, ARRL Section Manager Dr. Joe Palsa, K3WRY, and Section Emergency Coordinator John Roberts, WB4AXY, participated as well as Greg Butler, KW6GB, who transmitted digital mode messages to W1AW. When the messages collected from all participating stations were transmitted from W1AW to the Red Cross receiving station in Baltimore, Butler provided backup reception of the messages in northwestern Virginia.

The Virginia Section recently underwent a massive rebuilding program, re-establishing its ARES and other emergency communications programs. Butler developed and recently upgraded the state's Winlink capabilities. A weekly exercise, dubbed "Winlink Wednesday" is conducted with about 100 check-ins from Virginia digital stations, and another 20-30 Winlink-equipped stations from outside the state. Check-ins employ multiple modes, such as traditional Winlink hybrid internet connections via HF Pactor and Telnet, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) connections and a new mode called ARDOP, for Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol. The ARDOP project is a joint development effort among Amateur Radio developers that seeks to provide a specification and implementation (software or hardware) for a modern versatile open digital protocol. See for more information on Winlink Wednesday.

ARES/RACES, Clubs Help State Police Monitor NY State Super Highway on Halloween

"Net control to Bridge 16"

"Bridge 16 here. All is clear. Back to net control."

Exchanges like this are heard for two nights along the New York State Thruway on Halloween Eve and Halloween night each year for the Pumpkin Patrol. The Rochester Amateur Radio Association (RARA), other clubs and ARES/RACES participate in the annual New York State Police-sponsored public service event with its mission of preventing objects from being thrown from bridges onto vehicles below, keeping drivers safe on the super highway. It allows the State Troopers who patrol the Thruway to concentrate on their other responsibilities. The New York State Thruway is a 570 mile long super highway system spanning the width of New York, connecting all of its major metropolitan areas. Approximately 250 million vehicles use the system annually.

The genesis of the Pumpkin Patrol was in 1976 when Katherine St. Jacques of Port Johnson, New York, was speaking with a truck driving friend on her CB radio when an object was thrown from a bridge into his windshield. The broken glass injured the driver. She and two friends then went to the three bridges near her home to watch and make sure no one else threw anything and injured someone else.

St. Jacques continued her vigil every year with friends, and later CB radio networks and Amateur Radio groups joined the effort. In 1990, St. Jacques turned over the coordination of the effort to Troop T of the New York State Police. Troop T is responsible for patrolling the Thruway.

The Rochester Amateur Radio Association has been participating in the Pumpkin Patrol for many years and it's a popular event with members. Volunteers sign up for one or both nights. A net control station maintains the list of bridges and members assigned to the bridges as well as emergency contact information. RARA staffs all of the bridges in Monroe County. The net control station contacts all of the volunteers at the bridges on the hour and half hour. Roll call is conducted to make sure that there are no problems with communications and that the volunteers are safe. That may include making sure the volunteer's car battery hasn't died, leaving the volunteer stranded.

If a volunteer monitor notices suspicious activity, he contacts net control who then contacts the police. The volunteers do not take action on their own. A "goodie patrol" comprised of other volunteers rounds on the bridge monitors with coffee or cider and a snack.

Other radio clubs across the state are solicited for their help. The State Police provides a letter for each volunteer describing the Pumpkin Patrol and the purpose of the volunteer parking their vehicle near the bridge. The letter identifies the volunteer's mission to a non-Thruway law enforcement officer who may not be aware of the volunteer's purpose. It grants the volunteer no authority; it only explains their presence near the bridge.

A Trooper working on the Thruway can be assigned over 30 miles of roadway coverage with responsibilities in traffic enforcement, accident investigations, responding to reports of missing or found property and even criminal investigations. However, there are two situations when everything stops until they are resolved: Vehicles heading in the wrong direction against traffic, and objects being thrown from bridges. Both have the potential to cause vehicle damage, serious injury or fatality.

As the program grew from year to year, the area monitored grew as well. From the three bridges monitored in 1976, the 225 volunteers in 2018 covered nearly the entire 570 mile New York State Thruway System, which includes hundreds of bridges. The success of the program is demonstrated by the numbers: no reported incidents of an object thrown from a bridge have occurred while a bridge was staffed by the Pumpkin Patrol. -- Donald Vlack, K2DV, Rochester, NY

National Hurricane Center Station WX4NHC Test is a Success on Eve of 2019 Hurricane Season

National Hurricane Center station WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, reported a successful Annual Test event. The Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami conducted its annual station test on Saturday, June 1, the first day of hurricane season. WX4NHC operators exercised the station from 1300 to 2100 UTC. "This is our 39th year of public service at NHC," said Ripoll. The goal was to test Amateur Radio equipment, antennas, and computers for the 2019 Hurricane Season, which runs through November 30.

"This event is good practice for ham radio operators worldwide, as well as National Weather Service (NWS) office staffs, fostering familiarity with Amateur Radio communication services available during times of severe weather," Ripoll said. "Brief contacts were held on many

Armando Flores, KG4LYD, (l) and WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, during the station test. (photo courtesy WD4R)

frequencies and modes, with exchanges consisting of signal reports and basic weather data [sunny, rainy, etc.] with any station in any location."

WX4NHC was operated on HF, VHF, UHF, APRS, and Winlink. Operators concentrated their efforts on the Hurricane Watch Net frequency of 14.325 MHz, and on the VoIP Hurricane Net (from 2000 - 2100 UTC), IRLP node 9219, as well as EchoLink WX-TALK Conference node 7203. The Florida statewide SARNET and local VHF and UHF repeaters were also employed. In preparation for the 2019 Hurricane Season, the ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team was also meeting to review its procedures.

Ripoll offered special thanks to Armando Flores, KG4LYD, "for coming to operate with me during the very busy afternoon shift when we were engaged in simultaneous HF radio and the EchoLink Hurricane Net operations." "We made contacts with stations in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and several NWS offices and EOCs, and with the Canadian Hurricane Center," Ripoll said. "Armando brought in a new DMR radio that fits in your hand and made several contacts on the DMR Worldwide Net, which was a first for WX4NHC," he said.

"When cellphone towers go down and satellite phones cannot get a dial tone and the internet goes off, Amateur Radio is one of the few communication services that can still get through. Just one message received from a station in a hurricane can make a big difference."

Ripoll concluded "We are very proud that Amateur Radio station WX4NHC has been a part of the very unique and important National Hurricane Center mission to help save lives for the past 39 years."-- Thanks, Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant Coordinator, National Hurricane Center station WX4NHC, Miami, Florida

Ohio Section Manager and Section EC Thank Their ARES Team for Memorial Day Tornado Outbreak Communications Effort

ARRL Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, reported ARES groups activated last month after nearly 40 tornado warnings were issued across the state. The state EOC station was on the air and ARES was active for several days during the response and recovery in a situation that was rapidly changing. State and local emergency management agencies handled damage issues. "Because of lack of power, the entire Montgomery County (Dayton area) water system faced depressurization," Broadway said. "Dayton Children's Hospital was on complete generator power." Ohio ARES remained active on HF (SSB and digital modes), as well as on DMR and VHF repeaters.

The severe weather caused widespread damage in and around Dayton and elsewhere in the Miami Valley. The National Weather Service (NWS) said it would take several days to survey the damage. The tornadoes struck after dark, with multiple injuries and one fatality reported.

The NWS office in Wilmington, Ohio, estimated that at one point, storms and tornadoes left some 5 million people without electrical power. Snow plows were repurposed to remove debris from Interstate 75, and the American Red Cross had set up shelters to accommodate displaced residents.

Ohio Section Leadership Thanks the Section's ARES Teams and SKYWARN: "This has been a significant event. I want to thank all of you who responded to Ohio's historic Memorial Day Outbreak of tornadoes. There were 21 tornadoes confirmed, with 3 EF-3 tornadoes and 1 EF-4 tornado that hit Trotwood destroying Hara Arena. Your participation in SKYWARN as the system moved into Ohio was important! Situational awareness reports you supplied all night Monday into Tuesday and beyond were a critical part of Ohio's gearing up to respond." - Scott Yonally, N8SY, Section Manager; and Stan Broadway, N8BHL, Section Emergency Coordinator

Lessons Learned

"Our Ohio Amateur Radio response was not without problems -- the storm-generated de-sense phenomenon was amazingly strong Monday evening," the SM and SEC said. "At some point we fumble-fingered the DMR radio and lost connection to the network. A local DMR operator re-programmed and improved our DMR situation. New DMR groups were added, and we added surrounding states to coordinate longer-track events. HF picked back up after the main frontal system moved away, but by then 'normal' communications were meeting the load."

"Many accolades were received from emergency managers, and we pass those on to all of you, who were out doing the work. Our fledgling idea to create a statewide flow of information worked, and worked well, just in the nick of time. It was a tremendous opportunity for Amateur Radio to be directly involved with real life-and-death events across the state; and you responded professionally. Thank you. This has been a historic event for Ohio, and I thank you for being a big part of the response," section leadership said.

Hospital and Health Mutual Aid Agreement Proposed for Southern California Amateur Radio Hospital Support Groups

A Hospital and Health Mutual Aid Agreement is being proposed for southern California's major Amateur Radio organizations that support hospital emergency communications. The draft proposal recognizes that the organizations are aware of each other's presence and commit to creating a positive cooperative environment to advance Amateur Radio support of hospital emergency communications. The stated goal is to always have the organizations work together to show a unified and professional front in the best interests of Amateur Radio and the facilities served.

Signatories would agree to the following:

1. To share trained radio operators for crisis communications to health and hospitals if such resources are available.

2. Trained radio operators will be defined as having FEMA ICS 100, 200 and 700 as well as a certified HIPAA course. The radio operators should be trained to hospital environmental issues and certified by the issue of a hospital or health photo ID badge.

3. To share repeater infrastructure when such sharing does not affect the primary user. Approval for use must be provided in writing by the primary user.

4. Allow testing of other agency repeater infrastructure, on occasion and with prior approval.

5. When possible Hospital Communications groups will make other groups aware of any educational, drill or other educational activity in a sharing mode.

6. To annually share radio frequency data for all channels with other signatory groups. This is confidential information and solely to assure up to date radio programming.

7. To annually publish a list of frequencies -- called "access channels" -- that are monitored by stated group during an activation.

8. The agreement is to facilitate sharing of information, education and best practices.

9. This agreement is not binding and may be dissolved in sixty days upon written notification.

The draft is being circulated for comments and signatures. -- Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network

New AUXCOMM Position Task Book Release

John E. Peterson, N4KEA, Telecommunications Specialist with the Emergency Communications Division (ECD) of the US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), announced in the DHS AUXCOMM forum at the Dayton Hamvention this year that the new AUXCOMM Position Task Book had been approved by DHS for use by the states in training Auxiliary Communicators. The former Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is now ECD within CISA.

The new Position Task Book (PTB) documents the performance criteria a trainee should meet to be certified for the position of Auxiliary Communicator within a given state. The performance criteria are associated with core National Qualification System (NQS) competencies, behaviors, and tasks.

Evaluators observe and review a trainee's completion of PTB tasks, initialing and dating each successfully completed task in the PTB. Evaluators complete an Evaluation Record Form documenting the trainee's performance. A final evaluator verifies that a trainee has completed the PTB and his/her verification is sent to a review board with ideally at least one member who is an experienced Auxiliary Communicator with Public Safety experience. After board review, a Documentation of Agency Certification is issued as appropriate.

An example of one of the tasks is:

§ Monitor operational performance of AUXCOMM communications systems throughout the duration of the incident.

§ Monitor operational status of all AUXCOMM equipment in use.

§ Establish an operational test schedule and perform tests of communications equipment throughout the duration of an incident.

§ Establish a plan for battery replacement.

§ Establish contingency plans to minimize interruptions in AUXCOMM communications infrastructure and systems.

The PTB can be found on the SAFECOM website at:

[I participated in one of Peterson's AUXCOMM courses, in Orlando, Florida, a few years ago, and wrote about my experience in the Public Service column for May 2016 QST. - K1CE]

K1CE For a Final: Field Day Safety First

Every Field Day participant has the basic duty to ensure a safe weekend. Yes, there is a 100-point Safety Officer bonus, but it's not just about the extra points; it's like those safety record signs you see at construction sites - "365 days without an accident," and "Safety is Everyone's Responsibility." Every FD group should appoint a qualified person/s who are present at the operating site from the beginning of set-up until the end of break-down. The Safety Officer/s certify by submitting a form that due diligence was made to provide a safe operation.

Here are only a few safety recommendations from the ARRL Field Day packet: Fuel for generator properly stored. Fire extinguisher on hand and appropriately located. First Aid kit on hand. First Aid - CPR - AED trained participant/s on site for full Field Day period. Access to NWS alerts to monitor for inclement weather. Tent stakes properly installed and marked. Temporary antenna structures properly secured and marked. Site secured from tripping hazards. Site is set up in a neat and orderly manner to reduce hazards. Stations and equipment properly grounded. Access to a means to contact police/fire/rescue if needed. Safety Officer is designated point of contact for public safety officials. Minimize risks and control hazards to ensure no injuries to public. As necessary, monitoring participants for hydration and ensuring an adequate water supply is available.

Consider other safety factors as well, not just those listed above. Have a safe Field Day!

I hope to work many readers this coming weekend: look for K1CE (Class 1E this year). I will be hunting particularly for Class F Emergency Operations Center (EOC) stations: "An amateur radio station at an established EOC activated by a club or non-club group. Class F operation takes place at an established EOC site. Stations can use equipment and antennas temporarily or permanently installed at the EOC for the event. For Field Day purposes, an EOC is defined as a facility established by: a) a Federal, State, County, City or other Civil Government, agency or administrative entity; or, b) a Chapter of a national or international served agency (such as American Red Cross or Salvation Army) with which your local group has an established operating arrangement. Planning of a Class F operation takes place in conjunction and cooperation with the staff of the EOC being activated. See the full rules.

I like the EOC class F operation: it's a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your group's capabilities and the Amateur Service in general before the professional emergency managers and staffs that you would likely being serving in a major disaster situation, and conversely, it gives your members an opportunity to learn their way around the EOC facility, meet its staff, and understand its culture.

And lastly, have fun!

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