Register Account

Login Help

ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
August 18, 2021
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES® Briefs, Links

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator (EMCOR) Carlos Alberto Santamaría González, CO2JC, requested that radio amateurs in the Americas (Region 2) keep specific frequencies clear to support emergency communications in Haiti following an earthquake there on August 14. Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, President of the Radio Club of Haiti, reported significant structural damage, and international news reports fear high casualties. The frequencies are: 3750 kHz, 7150 kHz, and 14330 kHz.

ARRL Emergency Preparedness & Response Assistant Ken Bailey, K1FUG, reported yesterday that Bill Hoops, K3WJH, of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, says that World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, is providing meals in Haiti. Team Rubicon - comprised of military veterans - is also on the island. The U.S. Coast Guard is flying injured people to hospitals that are open. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is working to gain access to provide disaster services. Hoops, in Pennsylvania, is monitoring the HF bands for related activity. As of yesterday morning, the death toll from the earthquake stood at 1,419, with another 6,900 people injured, according to Haiti's civil-defense agency.


On July 6, an evening Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) HF practice net in FEMA Region 2 (New York and New Jersey) was interrupted by several "mayday" distress calls on the channel, which is shared with the maritime service. Net control station Ron Tomo, KE2UK, immediately halted training and attempted (without success) to establish radio communication with the station in distress. Tomo then directed two other net members who heard the distress call -- John Hoover, K2XU, and Wayne Gearing, K2WG -- to attempt to establish communication and offer assistance.

While the other net members were attempting to contact the vessel by radio, Tomo contacted the US Coast Guard (USCG) Station at Jones Beach Island in New York, which alerted the USCG Sector Command at Long Island Sound to join the MARS operators on frequency. MARS operators remained on frequency to assist the USCG in listening for the distress call.

Several hours later, the fishing vessel Falling Star was identified as missing with 15 individuals on board, all from Honduras. Ten days later, the USCG confirmed that 10 of the passengers survived in a skiff and were rescued by a passing commercial oil tanker -- the MTM Amsterdam -- that spotted their small craft. Tragically, the skipper of the Falling Star died 1 day before the survivors were found, and was buried at sea. The vessel was en route from Jamaica to Guatemala when it's reported to have rolled over without warning on July 6, just before midnight.

MARS volunteers alerted the USCG to the vessel in distress several hours before the Falling Star was identified and confirmed as missing. The Jamaica Defence Force (JFD) Coast Guard collaborated with counterparts from the US, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands in the search for the vessel. - Thanks, ARRL News Desk, Rick Lindquist, WW1ME


NEW ENGLAND ARES ACADEMY will be held in conjunction with Northeast HamXposition 2021: September 10, 11 & 12 at the Best Western hotel in Marlborough, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. The event is the ARRL New England Division Convention. From the convention's promotion: "Complementing our Saturday programming, we're pleased to host the ever-popular New England ARES Academy featuring workshops and talks aimed at getting you prepared and ready to face any emergency communications situation." The program includes: Intro to ARES, HF Propagation for Emergency Communications, Getting Started with Winlink Express, SKYWARN Refresher, Tactical Message Handling, Lessons Learned from the "Big Ones," Intro to NBEMS, and Go-kit Strategies. Please see the Northeast HamXposition website for more information.


The Radio Amateur Training Planning and Activities Committee, chaired by ARRL Idaho Section Manager Dan Marler, K7REX, will be hosting a series of presentations on the topic of "Disaster Communications, Emergency Management's Expectations of Amateur Radio." Presenters from the disaster services communities will discuss related issues. The series starts tomorrow evening at 9 PM EDT with South Carolina Emergency Management Division administrators' description and expectations of the state's AUXCOMM program for amateur radio volunteers. Presenters are Gabe Turner, South Carolina Communications Manager; Roger Mull, AUXCOMM Coordinator; and Robert Steadman, South Carolina Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC).

The series will be using the same Zoom URL, ID and password for each session:

Meeting ID: 212 888 4758
Passcode: THURSDAY


The American Red Cross EmComm Training Organization (ETO) is sponsoring tomorrow's Winlink Thursday exercise with the theme of attaching brief files for transmitting via RF Winlink. Instructions for Winlink Thursday (tomorrow) are here. The series of ARC Winlink Thursday exercises have become popular.


Net Control Manager is a free, online service reported now in use by 176 groups (many affiliated with ARES) with more than 3300 nets involved. The utility is not a QSO logger, but rather a net management system used by net control stations to document various net activity focused on weather emergencies, earthquakes, fires, club meetings, bike ride support and any other logging and/or reporting for intensive communications support and management needs. A variety of reports can be created including mapping station locations and solutions. -- Keith Kaiser, WA0TJT, Kansas City, MO


Tip: Here is an excellent, new 15-minute video presentation on the ARES program for new and prospective ARES participants, by ARRL Orange (California) Section Emergency Coordinator Bob Turner, W6RHK.


July 22, 2021 -- Severe thunderstorms can be life-threatening, but not all severe storms are the same. Hazardous conditions range from tornadoes, large hail storms, and widespread straight-line winds called derechos, to cloud-to-ground lightning and flash flooding. Beginning this month, the National Weather Service will better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a "damage threat" tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, similar to Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings.


2022 ARRL National Convention Emergency Communications Training Track -- Plan on attending the 2022 ARRL National Convention, set to take place at Orlando HamCation® on February 11 - 13. A day-long workshop on emergency communications is scheduled as one of the training tracks that will be offered as part of the National Convention program that will precede HamCation on Thursday, February 10. The training presentations will feature current protocols, techniques, and responsibilities for the modern volunteer radio operator serving partner agency and organizations.The presenters are all subject-matter experts. Topics to be covered include the ARRL National, AUXCOMM and Florida Emergency Communicator Task Books, an overview of amateur radio responses to disasters, basic voice traffic handling with hands-on voice traffic net/message transfer practice, using the ICS-213 form, Winlink's ARDOP (Amateur Radio Digital Open) and VARA protocols, and the Radio Mail Server (RMS) hybrid internet/HF radio gateway system. Registration for the National Convention Training Tracks will open later this summer.


Visit the ARRL Store for items of special interest to the ARES emergency communicator.


Get Set for SET: ARRL Simulated Emergency Test Ahead, Plan Now

The 2021 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is just ahead. The primary ARRL-sponsored national emergency exercise is designed to assess the skills and preparedness of Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) volunteers, as well as those affiliated with other organizations involved with emergency and disaster response. The primary SET weekend is October 2-3, but Local and Section-wide exercises may take place throughout the fall. The annual SET encourages maximum participation by all amateur radio operators, partner organizations, and national, state, and local officials who typically engage in emergency or disaster response.

In addition to ARES volunteers, radio amateurs active in the National Traffic System, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), SKYWARN™, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and a variety of other allied groups and public service-oriented radio amateurs are needed to fulfill important roles in this nationwide exercise.

The SET allows volunteers to test equipment, modes, and skills under simulated emergency conditions and scenarios. Individuals can use the time to update a "go-kit" for use during deployments and to ensure their home station's operational capability in an emergency or disaster. To get involved, contact your local ARRL Emergency Coordinator or Net Manager. Check on upcoming planned activities through local, state, or Section-wide nets.

Neighborhood Radio Watch Takes Integrative Approach

The 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, northern California, and the resulting evacuations of the towns of Paradise and Magalia led to the organization of neighborhood radio watch groups. The idea came from Sierra Foothills Amateur Radio Club member Alan Thompson, W6WN, a resident of Placerville along Highway 50 on the Sierra western slopes where fire danger is high. As a member of and with the cooperation and support of the El Dorado County Radio Club, the Neighborhood Radio Watch program in that county has taken off with robust enthusiasm of the county's administration. The concept has also been well-received in Butte County where the Camp Fire was and where the Dixie Fire is blazing now.

The Neighborhood Radio Watch concept integrates the use of amateur radio, GMRS (including repeaters), and scanners to monitor county fire frequencies. It is evolving into a terrific grass roots safety program that can be replicated in other areas of the country that face the risks of fast moving disaster threats. -- Alan Thompson, W6WN, Public Information Officer, The El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club

Net Control Practice and Exercises Keep Wyoming Amateurs Sharp

Wyoming's Cloud Peak Radio and Electronics Group, CPREG, holds a weekly 2 meter training net that also serves as the county ARES net. Participation has been good this year, helped by the introduction of interesting exercises. Each month different volunteers are assigned to serve as net control, creating a group of trained operators with experience at controlling a net. If a net control misses a session, any member with a net script and net roll is invited to jump in and run the net.

Following the PACE model (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency) plans for the net, the club repeater serves as the Primary repeater, another local repeater is the Alternate, and the Contingency frequency is 146.52 simplex.

One night it was announced, "the repeaters are out, go to the Contingency option." We had a centrally located member on alert to act as net control -- a luxury we might not have for real, but a good idea for an exercise, to keep it functioning. Interest was piqued.

Recently we completed another exercise, this time without surprise because the idea was to create a tool we could all use. After calling the net on the repeater, we went to simplex following a publicized plan. The net control then called the roll. Each station was asked to note the calls of the check-ins they could copy. After the exercise, we combined the data to create a "contact matrix" indicating which receiving stations could copy which transmitting stations. The contact matrix should help in planning future 2-meter simplex operations.

Keeping the nets varied with different control operators and different exercises is one way to keep interest high. -- Chris Smith, NX0E, Dayton, Wyoming

FEMA Shelter-in Place Guidance

FEMA has released Shelter-in-Place Pictogram Guidance for 10 hazards and three building types. The pictograms provide clear, visual guidance to the public on shelter-in-place actions classified by both hazard and building type to ensure the public takes effective protective actions when instructed to shelter-in-place during emergencies.

The guidance provides recommended interior locations for specific hazards, additional actions for protection, and the recommended duration for staying sheltered-in-place. The 10 hazards are: Active Shooter, Chemical Hazards, Earthquake, Flooding/Flash Flooding, Hurricane, Nuclear/Radiological Hazards, Pandemic, Thunderstorm, Tornado, and Winter Storm. The three building types are: Manufactured or Mobile Home, 1- or 2-Story Buildings, and Multi-story Buildings. The shelter-in-place pictograms can be used by community partners in multiple communication channels, such as posters, websites, just-in-time social media posts and by emergency managers for Integrated Public Alert & Warning System Wireless Emergency Alerts. The Shelter-in-Place Pictogram Guidance can be downloaded.

Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service Founding Director -- Silent Key

Mark Sheppard, N7LYE, founded the Seattle (Washington) Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) in 1993 to organize ham radio operators to assist the City's Office of Emergency Management. With his leadership the number of volunteer hams grew to 150 across the region and ACS is today an integral part of the City's Emergency Operations Center. ACS volunteers serve not just with amateur radio, but in all communications services and in important staff positions in the EOC.

Sheppard was the embodiment of public service and leadership that extended beyond amateur radio. He promoted the development of Neighborhood Emergency Communications Hubs, grassroots teams of residents who can be self-sustaining in times of need. Summers, he volunteered in wildfire responses and possessed a Red Card firefighting certification.

In 2000, Sheppard organized Comm Academy, a 2-day conference offering training for hams involved in emergency communications that drew up to 500 attendees from throughout the Pacific Northwest including Canada. In 2021, he took Comm Academy online with a team of "techies" who produced two days of streamed content and interaction. More than 1,400 hams and friends from over 40 countries generated nearly 2,000 views of the ten presentations.

A Last Call for Sheppard was conducted on the weekly Seattle ACS net. More than 50 hams and friends attended a special meeting dedicated to the sharing of memories and appreciations. -- Tim Helming, WT1IM, Director, Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service

ARRL ARES Section News

News and Views from around the ARRL Field Organization, ARES.

Sacramento Valley Section

ARES net members asked to consider serving as net control operators -- Jay Ballinger, N6SAC, Sacramento Valley ARES Emergency Coordinator said "We have a dedicated, yet small, group of members who reliably perform these duties every single week. Sometimes, because of availability, our net control operators handle our weekly net more than once a month." Ballinger said, "It would be a big help if we could get more of you to join our net control ranks, and I'll make you a deal - you can participate as much or as little as you like if you at least give it a try." Here is EC Ballinger's video appeal. Here are net control tutorials from Sacramento Valley ARES: Net Control Training - 101 and Net Control Training - 102. --

Iowa Section

Third largest tornado outbreak in Iowa since records began in 1980 -- Amateur Radio operators were active the week of July 11 monitoring and reporting on severe weather which produced at least 26 tornadoes across Iowa on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Many storms produced brief touchdowns with no reported damage, but several communities received substantial damage from tornadoes with wind speeds of 100 mph (EF-1) to 145 mph (EF-3). No injuries or fatalities were reported with these storms. Emergency Coordinators are currently filing reports from counties that activated their ARES personnel.

Eastern Massachusetts Section

Boston Marathon Amateur Radio Volunteer Registration has closed. In a statement, the BAA Amateur Radio Communications Committee said, "We hope everyone has stayed safe and healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic. After last year's race was moved to a virtual-only event, we are now approaching the 125th live running of the Boston Marathon, taking place on Monday, October 11, 2021.

"Volunteering at the Marathon is a big job and we appreciate the time and effort everyone puts into it. We're happy to do what we can to make your work fun, comfortable, and effective. With respect to COVID-19 mitigations, we will do our best to answer questions but appreciate everyone's patience, flexibility, and understanding that mitigation efforts and plans remain very fluid and could change based on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic as we get closer to the fall." -- Boston Marathon Communications Committee; ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section News

Northern Florida Section

On Saturday, July 24, the Santa Rosa County ARES team in the ARRL Northern Florida Section participated in shelter training and simulation by the American Red Cross. The simulation took place at one of their primary shelters, the Milton Community Center, and involved several volunteer agencies and members of the public. The training began in one of the conference rooms where officials explained the various roles of the Red Cross and the positions that are operated within an emergency shelter. ARES team members accounted for approximately half of the audience.

Following the introduction, members were moved into the room where they would be located for a simulated activation. They setup new go-kits that included an ICOM IC-7100 transceiver, laptop, and other necessary supplies for voice and Winlink operations. The shelter has an antenna already mounted on the roof with the coax running into the room.

Once inside, Emergency Coordinator Arc Thames, W4CPD, discussed the activities that take place during an activation with the ARES team as well as with the visitors. Thames summarized documentation binders and described a typical deployment to a shelter and what it looks like for the team.

During the simulation, the Shelter Manager inserted injects (unexpected, contrived simulated problems to be solved on the fly) that they would have to relay to the "EOC." One of the team members was standing by at home to serve as the EOC radio operator. The injects varied from disorderly shelter clients to clogged toilets and flooded parking lots. For every action and event, they discussed and demonstrated filling in the proper ICS documentation to create a log of events and explained the importance of these forms.

During the simulation the team also obtained simulated shelter statistics, which were then transmitted via Winlink using a custom shelter form designed by Jon Holladay, KM4QQO.

For any visitor that came through, they were asked for their email address and then an operator demonstrated sending a message over the air using Winlink. Many were surprised at how easily it worked and how quickly they received their message. One of the new Emergency Management team members also stopped by and the operators demonstrated this functionality for him.

This simulation provided a fantastic opportunity to interface with other shelter team members, giving a better understanding of what ARES does to support them and the community. The Red Cross typically conducts these exercises at the start of hurricane season- Arc J. Thames, W4CPD, Emergency Coordinator, Santa Rosa County FL ARES, originally published in the QST NFL August 2021 issue

North Carolina Section

Mike Sprayberry has retired as North Carolina State Director of Emergency Management. On July 28, Tom Brown, N4TAB and Section Manager Marvin Hoffman, WA4NC, presented a certificate of recognition to Sprayberry for his strong and continued support for Auxcomm training and exercises during his eight years of service as State EM Director.


Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Job Titles/Position Requirements Released

FEMA has released National Qualification System (NQS) Job Titles/Position Qualifications and Position Task Books (PTBs) for three CERT positions:

· CERT Chief -- a volunteer who is responsible for a specific functional area within the CERT

· CERT Team Leader -- a volunteer part of a CERT who directs team activities

· CERT Volunteer -- a volunteer who is a part of a CERT and trains in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations

These resource typing documents will facilitate the sharing of deployable CERT positions at all jurisdictional levels. Resource typing is a key component of NIMS and enables organizations from across the country to work together during incidents of all types and sizes. Implementing NIMS resource management principles across the nation is a fundamental part of building our national preparedness.

View CERT Position Task Book. View Job Titles and Position Qualifications.


ARES Resources

· Download the ARES Manual [PDF]

· ARES Field Resources Manual [PDF]

· ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Fillable PDF]

· ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Word]

· ARES Plan

· ARES Group Registration

· Emergency Communications Training

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. Please inquire at the local level for specific information. Because ARES is an amateur radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.

How to Get Involved in ARES: Fill out the ARES Registration form and submit it to your local Emergency Coordinator.

ARRL Resources

Join or Renew Today! Eligible US-based members can elect to receive QST or On the Air magazine in print when they join ARRL or when they renew their membership. All members can access digital editions of all four ARRL magazines: QST, On the Air, QEX, and NCJ.

Subscribe to NCJ -- the National Contest Journal. Published bimonthly, features articles by top contesters, letters, hints, statistics, scores, NA Sprint and QSO Parties.

Subscribe to QEX -- A Forum for Communications Experimenters. Published bimonthly, 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 Letter (monthly public service and emergency communications news), the ARRL Contest Update (biweekly 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