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The ARES Letter
December 15, 2021
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
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ARES® Briefs, Links

US Department of Homeland Security's AUXCOMM Course February 7-9, 2022 Orlando, Florida, precedes the ARRL National Convention hosted by HamCation -- The AUXCOMM class information can be found below. When asked how he enjoyed the course, Arc Thames, W4CPD, Assistant Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator said: "It was hands down one of the best emergency communications courses I've taken. It really tied together many of the other individual courses I had taken. The hands-on activities and the group exercise at the end were invaluable. If you're interested in emergency communications, this course is for you." Only 30 seats are available, so be sure to apply for the course as soon as possible.

December 8, 2021 -- A grant of $374,233 from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) to Rocky Mountain Ham Radio (RMHAM) will go toward expanding a multistate 5 GHz microwave network and help to outfit communications trailers. The microwave network enables partnering amateur radio clubs and groups to access, enable, or expand their repeater and other FCC Part 97-appropriate applications. The network provides 50 - 100+ Mbps of bandwidth and is managed and monitored by a dedicated network operations team. "Amateur radio organizations across Colorado and New Mexico leverage this infrastructure to enable their own repeater and IP capabilities that would otherwise be difficult or prohibitively expensive to achieve," RMHAM said. Read the full report. - ARRL News Desk

Register now for the 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 public safety entities. The presenters are subject-matter experts. Topics to be covered include the ARRL Emergency Communicator Position Task Books, an overview of amateur radio communicator responses to disasters, basic voice traffic handling with hands-on voice traffic net/message transfer practice, using the ICS-213 form, Winlink's Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol (ARDOP) and VARA protocols, and the Radio Mail Server (RMS) hybrid internet/HF radio gateway system. Register for the National Convention Training Tracks.

ARRL CEO Observes and ARRL Field Services Manager Participates in Connecticut AUXCOMM Exercise

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David A. Minster, NA2AA, met Field Services Manager Mike Walters, W8ZY, at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Connecticut to observe ARRL taking part in an emergency management exercise there. The exercise concluded on Saturday, October 23. Walters participated on all 3 days and finished his assigned tasks early so he could help other teams attending the event.

The Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security conducted the exercise, the agency's first COMMEX. In cooperation with US DHS/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), individuals that had been trained as Communications Unit Leaders (COML), Communications Unit Technicians (COMT) and Auxiliary Communicators (AUXC) were evaluated in order to complete individual task books for their respective positions. Walters, and Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV, of Connecticut ARES, served as evaluators for the state. Minster met with representatives Michael Paulette, KJ6QHD, Exercise Director for CISA, John Gustafson, Emergency Telecommunications Manager, and Robert Drozynski, Emergency Management Program Specialist with the State of Connecticut.

Connecticut employed instructors from Kentucky, Texas, and California as well as tactical units from around the state supplied by various agencies and amateur radio organizations. The goal was that operators trained during this event can now be utilized in emergency situations as well as resources for future training.

Icom SHF Project -- Super High Frequency Band Challenge Offers Opportunities for ARES

According to a public information release, Icom has been conducting technical research on a new project to create a product from its wireless communication technology cultivated over more than half a century. Under the theme of "Icom SHF Project--Super High Frequency Band Challenge --", the company started to develop a new amateur radio product available for use in the 2.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz bands. They stated, "Icom engineers are working hard to research and develop a number of never-cleared challenges within the SHF band, such as large cable loss and higher frequency stability requirements. The ultimate goal is to bring it to the market as a new radio product."

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DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) Training Course Planned for February

The DHS/CISA Auxiliary Communications Training Course will be conducted February 7-9, 2022, in cooperation with the 75th Orlando HamCation™ in Orlando, Florida (30 student maximum capacity). This class is designed for auxiliary communicators (AUXCOMM) and other communications groups who volunteer to provide backup radio communications support to public safety agencies. This typically includes volunteer amateur radio communicators from such organizations as SATERN, the Red Cross, REACT, and others. This class is free to anyone

DHS Auxcomm Course Graduates, Orlando, Florida, 2016.

who is accepted into the course. This course focuses on auxiliary communications interoperability, the relationship between the Communications Leader (COML) and AUXCOMM volunteers, emergency operations center (EOC) etiquette, on-the-air etiquette, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations, auxiliary communications training and planning, and emergency communications deployment. The course is intended to supplement and standardize a volunteer operator's experience and knowledge of emergency amateur radio communications in a public safety context.

Prerequisites for Attendance

Personal experience: A valid/signed FCC amateur radio license; Past experience in auxiliary emergency communications; An affiliation with a public safety agency (served agency); A desire to work with COMLs in a NIMS ICS environment. Must have completed the following online courses from the FEMA EMI website: IS-100, Introduction to the ICS; IS-200, ICS for Single Resources and Initial Incidents; IS-700, National Incident Management System (NIMS), an Introduction; IS-800, National Response Framework (NRF). How to Apply: Send an email with the below listed information to: TrainingRequest@commscollabcenter.com Subject Line: [Last Name] Application for HAMCATION AUXCOMM Course 2022. Text of email: Applicant's name; the name of the public safety agency you are, or will be, supporting; the public safety agency's email address; the agency's point of contact name and their email and phone number. Attach completion certificates for all courses listed above. Applications will be considered incomplete if any of the prerequisite course completion certificates are missing from the email. All applications and other requested documents, must be received by close of business on Friday, January 28, 2022. The first 30 qualified applicants will be notified that they are registered once the appropriate information has been received. Selected individuals will be notified of the course location/schedule once their registration is approved. Questions regarding the course prerequisites should be directed to CISA by contacting John Peterson via email at AUXCOMM@cisa.dhs.gov

Spotlight: Lake Superior AuxComm Group Forms for Mutual Assistance

We as radio communicators have through our training and regular activity become familiar with other operators in neighboring communities, townships, counties, and even states and provinces. We knew who to call if we needed assistance in supporting an incident or event response and we were prepared to assist them if asked, the essence of a mutual assistance plan. Assistance and support come from those equipped and trained to provide it.

The potential for a wide-scale emergency/disaster warranting a greater regional response around the Great Lakes was an indication for a better organized, more efficient mutual assistance team approach when involved by an emergency management entity. In answer to this need, the Lake Superior AuxComm Group (LSAG) has been formed.

LSAG functions as a resource collective, coordinating organization of the region's auxiliary communication groups and personnel, equipment and group/operator capabilities. The database is updated and shared with emergency management entities by their local Emergency Coordinators.

Should an emergency manager in an incident-affected area need support from auxiliary communicators, the manager may contact the local LSAG member-entity and request assistance. The local group then works with the LSAG to garner and activate the appropriate level of mutual assistance needed from other LSAG members, AuxComm and ARES® groups in the region that includes Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

LSAG will promote and facilitate training in operator message handling via data and voice modes and evaluate/develop an emergency communications frequency/mode plan for the Lake Superior region. -- Tim Hass, KD8ZYW, Emergency Coordinator, Alger County, Michigan; LSAG Board member

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Staying Flexible and Adaptable: Planning for Communications Continuity

Achieving secure and resilient voice and data communications across the Emergency Communications Ecosystem is essential for public safety agencies to execute their missions. However, as emergency communications systems and functions become more interconnected, they also become more vulnerable to impacts from physical and cyber-based threats and hazards. The National Emergency Communication Plan (NECP) highlights the critical need for public safety organizations to plan for continuity and recovery of critical communications. Despite its importance, the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey found that less than half of public safety organizations build processes into their plans to ensure continuity of communications during out-of-the ordinary emergencies or disasters.

A webinar hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency highlighted the importance of continuity capabilities in the emergency communications ecosystem and provided participants with best practices for ensuring limited loss of critical communications during incidents. Speakers discussed specific communications elements that should be considered; explained how existing capabilities should be updated or upgraded to ensure continuity based on lessons learned; and provided real-world experiences on how jurisdictions have adapted to mitigate mission impacts from communications vulnerabilities.

Continuity capabilities-building principles, practices, and resources are available at the FEMA National Continuity Resource Toolkit and other sites. It's important to periodically review and update or upgrade capabilities and leverage the NECP to understand and build emergency communications resilience. Get additional information on the webinar series.--Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), US Department of Homeland Security

Operating Tips: Simplex and Programming Channels

Many opine that simplex is the ultimate mode of communication during a major emergency. Bob Pickering, KB4RSY, communications tech for the large EOC in Flagler County, Florida, conducted an all-simplex exercise annually. Recently while reprogramming my radios I devised a method to incorporate simplex frequencies to make "retuning to simplex" easy and fast. All of my local repeaters are programmed to the uneven channel numbers and the simplex frequencies to the even channels. One rotational click and I can check a simplex channel for use. - Lou Mecseri, KE1F, Palm Coast, Florida

A Case for Not Programming Repeaters into the Memories of your Radios

If you are like me and most other operators, you have programmed your area repeater frequencies into the memory channels of your radios. Recently, when I needed to switch to a new repeater frequency, I could not remember how to enter the PL tone and offset - an aggravating factor may be that I'm almost 70 years old with a slowly eroding memory! I resorted to reading the radio's operating manual. Now, I forego using the memory channels and instead enter the repeater frequency, offset, and PL tone manually each and every time so that I'll have the muscle memory needed to select repeater parameters on the fly in the field. Think about it - it only takes a second to enter the parameters. - K1CE

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Section News

Position Task Books in use for training in the panhandle of Florida -- The Florida ARRL Tri-Section ARES task book is a working document that enables those ARES communicators electing to participate in the training plan to track and document their elements as they are completed. The task book contains all training plan items, completion dates and signoffs as the ARES communicator increases skill and proficiency.

The Santa Rosa County ARES team will utilize the task book as the training plan for 2022. The goal is to have active ARES members signed off to level 2 of the task book. The training and activities outlined in level 2 cover many of those that an operator needs an understanding of to operate independently whether within the county or away on a deployment. (During a meeting, Arc Thames, W4CPD, Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator, emphasized the importance of being self-sufficient during an activation).The training regimen will start off with message handling with radiograms and ICS forms, and a deep dive into Winlink with hands-on activities. "We plan to setup numerous TNC's of varying types to give our team the experience of using and setting them up in the field," Thames said. "We work hard to keep plenty of activities and training opportunities going in the Northwest Florida area," which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties.

K1CE for a Final: Get Your BLS, CPR, and AED Training as New Year's Resolution Number One

Each year an estimated 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) events occur in the United States in an out-of-hospital environment. In 2020, Washington DC Fire and EMS reported 964 SCAs in the district with only a 4.7% survival rate. An SCA occurs when the heart's electrical system abruptly malfunctions, and the heart suddenly stops beating normally. It can happen to anyone, at any time. Without quick intervention in the form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, death from SCA is certain.

ARES members and other radio amateurs can be a critical link in the cardiac arrest chain of survival. A properly trained communicator can make the difference between life and death because when CPR begins prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, the person in cardiac arrest's chance of survival increases by 2 to 3 times.

ARES Participants: YOU are on the front lines of incidents and events where potentially hundreds of officials, participants, coordinators, and observers are under stress and prone to cardiac events. Make it your new year's resolution to take the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Basic Life Support (BLS) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) courses from a local Red Cross or American Heart Association training office.

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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!

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