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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
January 18, 2023
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES® Briefs, Links

Winter Field Day (WFD) is January 28-29 -- A communications exercise, WFD is open to participants worldwide. Operators use the HF, VHF, and UHF bands and are free to use any mode. Similar to the ARRL's Field Day, bonus points are earned in several ways, including using non-commercial power sources, operating from remote locations, satellite contacts, and more. Winter Field Day is sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association, which believes that operators should practice portable emergency communications in winter environments, to help increase preparedness for disasters and improve skills in sub par conditions.

In the latest episode of the ARRL On the Air podcast, Ginger Wilder, KI5TJE, discusses her first time running an amateur radio net. Give it a listen and get ready to be the next Net Control operator for your local net.

FEMA released the 2022 National Preparedness Report, revealing the impacts that climate change and associated natural disasters continue to have on emergency management capabilities and communities across the country. The report focuses on:

  • The nation's changing risk environment, driven by climate change, physical and technological vulnerabilities, and inequity;
  • Preparedness indicators and measurements of national capability levels; and
  • Management opportunities that can assist communities in managing risks and addressing capability gaps.

The report identifies the challenges that emergency managers face in addressing a changing risk environment, and how they can meet those challenges to help achieve a more prepared nation. Emergency managers and whole community partners [including the ARRL ARES program - Ed.] across the nation can look to this year's report to help support decisions about program priorities, resource allocations, and community actions.

A Year-Long ARRL Operating Event Recognizing Volunteers - That's You!

As announced in the January 2023 issue of QST, ARRL is celebrating a year-long operating event honoring all ARRL volunteers: Volunteers On the Air. Read the Announcement In similar fashion to the 2014 ARRL Centennial Celebration, and the 2018 International Grid Chase, this event will be exclusively driven only by QSOs uploaded to Logbook of The World (LoTW). Highlights of the event include:

  • Earning Points for contacting W1AW Portable Stations: There will be week-long activations of portable W1AW/# stations in all 50 states, and in several US Possessions/Territories, that will generate on-air activity to earn points. Each state will be activated twice. The schedule of when which states will be activated, as posted in the dashboard above, will be updated as changes/additions occur. See the POINTS TABLE for the full list of points.
  • Contacting ARRL Volunteers or Members on the air: ARRL Officers, Directors, Section Managers (and their appointees), Staff, and even Members domestically (and DX) can be contacted for points. See the POINTS TABLE for the full list of points.
  • Using Logbook of The World (LoTW -- see as the QSOs data source, the 2023 Volunteers On the Air event features W1AW activations from all 50 states (twice) and several territories during 2023. Weeks will begin on a Wednesday and end on a Tuesday. Some weeks will be shown as off weeks to avoid other major operating events.
  • Participants will work W1AW portable stations and ARRL volunteers to earn QSO points.
  • Participants do not need to upload to, or participate in, LoTW. Uploads to LoTW by W1AW portable stations and by the volunteers will feed the points scoring system.
  • A Leaderboard will be activated after the event ramps up, and Certificates will be available during and after the event concludes. Once the year is completed, a final summary will be released.

Contests as COMMEXs

ARRL VHF/UHF Contest January 21-23, 2023

The annual ARRL January VHF/UHF Contest begins at 1900 UTC January 21 and ends 0359 UTC January 23. All Amateur Radio Service bands from 6 meters and above may be used for the contest. Since most of the Blair County (Pennsylvania) Amateur Radio, intra-county emergency communications support uses the amateur VHF and UHF frequencies, this is a great contest to use as your own personal communications exercise (COMMEX) for your home, mobile, and/or portable VHF and UHF equipment.

There's even an FM-only category on 6 meters through 70 cm. So, you won't need an all-mode radio to play. If you have an all-mode radio though, you'll be able to make more, and more distant, contacts. Speaking of FM, you may only use recognized FM simplex frequencies. Repeater contacts are not allowed.

Not a contester at heart? Use this contest to test your radio grab-and-go and emergency supply kits. With the FM-only category, you could operate from your home station or portable by setting up your grab-and-go kit in your backyard, or on your deck or patio. How well do you and your grab-and-go kit work over the duration of the contest, in the winter? Don't forget power. Can you sustain operations during the contest without using commercial power? Although using emergency power won't get you any extra points in this contest, it's a way you can use the contest to exercise your EMCOMM capabilities. Don't have an emergency supply kit? Go to to learn how to prepare yourself and your family for small emergencies or large-scale disasters. Remember, it takes a while for the government to organize a response to a disaster.

Even here in the United States, it can take 72 hours or more before any government organized relief arrives in a stricken area. In the case of disasters like Katrina and Sandy, some areas didn't see organized government help arrive until weeks later. That's why it's vitally important we are prepared to fend for ourselves at least during that initial 72-hour period. Try operating during the contest with just the provisions of your emergency supply kit. Because the food and water needs to be refreshed regularly anyway, see if your kit will in fact sustain you during the contest. If it doesn't, it means your kit will need to be reevaluated. If you do use the contest for your own COMMEX, please take the time to write an article for your local newsletter -- or QST! -- describing your experience.

Additional details about the contest can be found at the ARRL's January VHF Contest web page. -- Blair ARES Alert!, the newsletter of the Blair County, Pennsylvania, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (Emergency Coordinator: Kevin Lear, W3XOX; Editor: Drew McGhee, KA3EJV)

ARES/CERT Flood Preparedness Drills in Northwestern Washington

Abbotsford, BC flood

Flooding in Sumas, Washington and Abbotsford, British Columbia, November 2021

Flooding in Sumas, Washington and Abbotsford, British Columbia, November 2021 -- In that November, Whatcom County, Washington and southern British Columbia experienced the worst flooding in 30 years. The Nooksack River overflow significantly impacted the communities in the floodplain and extended across the border into Abbotsford, BC, as well. Stream overflows also flooded several major streets in Bellingham, WA, during the same period. Cross-border damage caused by the flooding has been estimated in the billions.

In the after-action review of the flooding, Fire District One (FD1) in Whatcom County (which serves the flooded area) noted the lack of real-time situation reports from the flooding areas. FD1 reached out to the county ARES group, the Whatcom Emergency Communications Group (WECG), to develop a plan for future flood events.

Mapping software Caltopo/Sartopo

WECG had been using the mapping software Caltopo/Sartopo in conjunction with county Search and Rescue. WECG put together an exercise using ARES and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers in field teams to demonstrate the use of the mapping app. Field teams reported hypothetical flood situations via the Sartopo app or VHF and FRS radio. Situation reports (road closed, area flooded, etc.) were posted in real time on the master map at the EOC. In addition, some teams were able to provide drone footage to the EOC. The FD1 chief and the chiefs from neighboring fire districts were able to monitor the exercise as it progressed.

The City of Bellingham's ACS group has run a similar exercise using Sartopo, mimicking the 2021 flood experience. In addition to the use of Sartopo, radio and CERT teams also sent in digital reports and photos using Winlink and fldigi.

Bellingham's Emergency Manager was able to follow the exercise live on the EOC master map. See the final map indicating field team routes and reports. Whatcom County has now incorporated the field team/Sartopo mapping approach in to its flood preparedness planning. Cross border emergency managers have also developed coordinated flood response plans. -- Jim McCabe, AE7UQ, Whatcom County ARES Emergency Coordinator; and Jim Blattner, KC7JB, Whatcom Emergency Communications Group [Photo and image courtesy of the author]

ARRL ARES® Section News


Colorado Emergency Operations Center

FOREST FIRE! -- Boulder, Colorado, Live ATV Video Feed to Emergency Operations Center -- On Monday, December 19, 2022, a structure fire started in Sunshine Canyon. It spread to the nearby forest. Strong winds of 40 MPH made fighting the fire difficult and also prevented the use of firefighting aircraft. The nearby mountain sub-divisions were under evacuation orders from the Sheriff. The OEM activated the Boulder ARES group (BCARES). They were requested to man the Red Cross evacuation shelter. Allen Bishop, K0ARK, BCARES EC, requested that the Boulder ATV Club (BATVC) provide video coverage for the EOC. Jim Andrews, KH6HTV, set up his TV camera on the back deck of his QTH out on the prairie 15 miles away. Using the long, tele-photo zoom he was able to see the smoke plume, but not the actual fire. He sent his video to the W0BTV digital ATV repeater on 23cm. The repeater then re-broadcast it on 70cm (423 MHz). Both Don Nelson, N0YE, and Bill Eberle, AB0MY, activated their receivers and sent the video over the internet to the BATC server in the U.K. Allen at the Boulder Emergency Operations Center (EOC) picked up the video from the BATC stream. - Thanks, Jim Andrews, KH6HTV, Boulder, Colorado ARES

ARES® Resources

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.

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