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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
May 17, 2023
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES® Briefs, Links

National Hurricane Center (NHC) Amateur Radio station WX4NHC operators will be on the air for their Annual Communications Test on Saturday, May 27, 2023, from 9 AM-5 PM EDT (1300Z-2100Z). This will be the station's 43rd year of public service operations at NHC. The purpose of this event is to test WX4NHC amateur radio equipment and antennas at NHC as well as operators' home equipment, antennas, and computers prior to this year's hurricane season, which starts June 1 and runs through November 30. This event is beneficial for operators worldwide to exercise communication modes, protocols, and techniques in advance of times of severe weather. Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant Coordinator, WX4NHC, said "We will be making brief contacts on many frequencies and modes, exchanging signal reports and basic weather data (sun, rain, wind speed, temperature, etc.) with any station in any location." WX4NHC will be on the air on HF, VHF, UHF, 2- and 30-meter APRS, and Winlink, with the subject line containing "//WL2K."

"We will try to stay on the Hurricane Watch Net frequency 14.325 MHz most of the time," Ripoll said. Also, 7.268 MHz will be checked periodically, depending on propagation. "However, we will be operating on different frequencies depending on QRM. You may be able to find us on HF by using one of the DX spotting networks, such as the DX Summit service," he said. "We will also be on the VoIP Hurricane Net 4 PM - 5 PM EDT (2000-2100Z) (IRLP node 9219/EchoLink WX-TALK Conference node 7203)." WX4NHC will also make a few contacts on local VHF and UHF repeaters as well as the Florida Statewide SARNET system to test the station's equipment.

QSL cards are available via WD4R. Please send your card with a S.A.S.E. Do not send QSLs directly to the Hurricane Center address, as processing will be delayed. Due to Federal Agency security measures, no visitors will be allowed entry to the NHC. For more information about WX4NHC, please visit its website. "We look forward to your participation in the WX4NHC Annual Station Test event," concluded Ripoll.

The National Hurricane Conference held last month in New Orleans, Louisiana, featured the popular Amateur Radio Workshop on Monday, April 3. The conference theme was to improve hurricane preparedness. The Amateur Radio Workshop video has been uploaded to YouTube.

One of the major pioneers of hospital emergency communications, David Otey, WB6NER, passed away on April 14, 2023. For over 25 years, Otey dedicated himself to hospital emergency communications, especially in the San Francisco Bay area. The hospital radio nets he established remain in use today. One of his greatest accomplishments was the integration and equipping of Kaiser Permanente hospitals in California with amateur radio equipment and trained volunteer operators. Otey was also a founding member of the California Disaster Medical Assistance Team and most recently was supporting operations in Haiti. Otey was a member of the Oakland Radio Communications Association (ORCA) and past president. -- Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, Orange, California, Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN)

Carroll County, Mississippi, Emergency Coordinator George Gillespie, KF5IAY, reports that the county ARES net was activated on March 29 when a tornado threatened the area. The tornado passed on the ground through the Blackhawk community. The home of Reggie Daves, KI5HKE, took a direct hit -- the only available communication for help was his handheld. Traffic was monitored and passed through the EOC. "This I firmly believe not only helped with rescues, but saved lives," said Gillespie.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) and the Florida Communications Unit have announced the opening of the registration window for Operation: MARConi 2 -- advanced communication unit training for 2023. "MARConi 2" will be held in Florida Region 5, hosted in Lake County from May 21 through May 26. An AUXCOMM component as well as the COMT and MARC (Mutual Aid Radio Communications) practitioner tracks will be included.

All applications will be reviewed and emails sent to individuals approved to attend. Please make sure to get your application in as soon as possible, as there are a limited number of slots available per region. The target audience for this workshop are personnel assigned to a MARC or EDICS unit, and other working incident communications personnel (COML, COMT, etc) who have agency recommendation.

AuxComm-focused training will be conducted Sunday, May 21, ending on Wednesday, May 24. Public Safety-focused training will begin Monday, May 22, ending on Friday, May 26. Registration is open. Number of participants may be limited by region, by county, or by team and current training level. View flyer. Register. Send email to staff.

Correction -- In the last issue, a summary of major emergency operations over the past hundred years had an error: The 1948 Vanport flood was in Oregon, not Washington. Vanport was in the northeastern part of Portland, and was near some of the ship building yards. It was extremely hard hit by the flood. -- Jeremy Tanzer, KI7BDP, Assistant Emergency Coordinator for Training, Clackamas Amateur Radio Emergency Service (CARES) Director

Dayton Hamvention® EmComm Programs -- Not to be Missed

The Dayton Hamvention®, Xenia, Ohio, is this week -- Friday through Sunday, May 19, 20, and 21. There are several forums of interest to the EmComm community, including the following:

A Partnership to Save Lives, Friday, 1:10 to 2:30 PM in Room 2 -- NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is working to build a Weather-Ready Nation, one that is more resilient and better prepared to respond to extreme weather and water events. The NWS depends on partnerships to help build a Weather-Ready Nation and to help achieve the overarching mission to protect lives and property. One of these important partnerships is with amateur radio groups. This presentation will describe this partnership and how it helps to save lives during severe weather events.

ARES® Forum, Saturday, 12 to 1:20 PM, Room 3 -- The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® consists of licensed amateurs who have volunteered their qualifications and equipment with their local ARES leadership for communications duty when disaster strikes. Learn about opportunities to volunteer and train, and hear stories about best practices, the importance of building mutually beneficial relationships with local emergency management services, and the importance of our partnerships with served agencies. Sponsored by ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio® and conducted by ARRL Director of Emergency Management (DEM) Josh Johnston, KE5MHV.

Improving ARES® Service to a Served Agency: Alachua (Florida) ARES Developments

By Leland Gallup, AA3YB

ARES volunteers need to be accepted by the agency or other entity they serve. Why? Isn't being a technically skilled amateur radio operator enough to be of effective help to a served agency? No -- there has to be acceptance of the amateur radio group by the served agency. Acceptance of ARES® volunteers is an essential component of effective amateur service. Acceptance involves integration into a wide range of served agency activities. Without served agency acceptance, hams are often shown the door, even in an emergency. So how do you know if your ARES® group is really accepted by your served agency? If your group serves a county Emergency Management (EM) agency, how do you know if your group is a truly integrated part of its Emergency Support Function 2 (ESF-2 Communications) planning and administration? Integration is more than just going through the process of registering volunteers with the EM, more than undergoing background checks, and more than being "badged" for service at designated emergency shelters -- as important as all those things are when serving a public authority like an EM agency.

Acceptance means your served agency views you -- in effect -- as one of them.
Acceptance goes far beyond activating an emergency operations center radio room. It means ARES® volunteers doing whatever their EM officials want them to do and doing what they are comfortable doing. It's not about communications alone. The path to agency acceptance begins with face time with your EM department, which is absolutely critical for gaining acceptance and integration into EM operations. Face time is the way to establish personal relationships with EM staff. It means regularly showing up at the agency (this may require a lot of effort to achieve). It means learning how the EM does business. It means understanding the National Response Framework, the National Incident Management System, and the Incident Command System. It means acting and dressing professionally. It means following through with requested tasks and being reliable. Acceptance is like trust -- it must be earned.

So, what exactly can EM acceptance and integration of ARES® volunteers look like? I suggest one way you'll know is when your EM asks you for assistance -- not just during an emergency activation when the skies are threatening, but during times of "blue skies," too. And not necessarily as communicators, but as support staff for their training events. This is what is now beginning to happen for Alachua County (Florida) ARES®. Alachua ARES' served agency is the Alachua County EM. After years of effort, ARES is establishing acceptance and integration into Alachua's EM.

"Reunification" Functional Exercise

On March 1, 2023, the county EM conducted what is called a "reunification" functional exercise conducted under doctrine of the Department of Homeland Security's Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP). An HSEEP functional exercise is one in which there is no kinetic activity as such; that is, no equipment or personnel is moved around from place to place. The "play" is one in which a variety of emergency support functions (ESF) would interact over the course of the exercise, and their performance would be evaluated against goals and quantified objectives. Exercise players work to fashion the connections among responders that would be so critical in a real event. The exercise scenario was a mass casualty incident (MCI) requiring fire/rescue, law enforcement, the Florida District 8 medical examiner, mental health services, local medical facilities and the Alachua EM. All of these emergency support functions (ESFs) would be expected to develop and carry out a way to meet the public's critical need for information -- specifically, the whereabouts and condition of family members and loved ones. As is often the case in MCIs, the exercise scenario required the EM and ESFs to stand up a "reunification" center, to which concerned members of the public could go for information.

In late 2022, Alachua EM asked ARES® to provide volunteer EM support staff to help run the exercise. ARES members would be "controllers," meaning that they would help the EM execute the exercise play and support player setup and coordination. Our members were NOT asked to provide communications support to the EM, but to act FOR the EM in making the exercise happen. This meant that ARES would be a trusted agent for the EM, integrated completely with the EM staff, in dealing with a host of public safety, health, and government agencies.

In the event, five Alachua ARES volunteers reported to the reunification site. During the hours of exercise preliminaries, the exercise itself, and post-exercise site breakdown, ARES volunteers did whatever the EM's principal center controller asked us to do. This involved site setup, player check-ins, exercise coordination, site breakdown, and the management of exercise "actors." Because the exercise "cause" was an MCI, the concept called for player interaction with fictional members of the public. To make for a realistic scenario, EM recruited students from the Santa Fe College Public Safety Academy to play the role of family members and loved ones trying to find out what had happened to the "victims" and others. In this capacity, their roles called for them to play out an array of emotional responses as they were given notifications, including fatalities. More than 20 such "actors" contributed enormously to the realism of the exercise, and our ARES members were instrumental in making this all happen.

How did ARES do? The emergency manager herself (who was the lead controller at the reunification center) praised our volunteers as "self-directing professionals who did anything needed to assist in making the exercise work." Moreover, other ESF "players" at the center saw ARES® volunteers as professional, dedicated, highly capable "force multipliers" for the Alachua EM. The impressions made, and relationships established, will stand us in good stead as we approach the 2023 hurricane season. This is what acceptance is all about. The four Alachua hams that volunteered for this event were Brett Wallace, NH2KW; David Huckstep, W4JIR; Wendell Wright, KN4TWS; and Eric Pleace, KO4ZSD. The fifth Alachua volunteer was Leland Gallup, AA3YB, author of this article.

These professional-grade amateurs are a credit to hams everywhere. They look the part of pros because that is what they are. The bottom line is simple: if you want acceptance for your ARES® group, start at the beginning -- build personal relationships with your served agency. Be professional. Be aware that you serve them, not the other way around. Do whatever they want you to do that you feel you can do. Do it now, when the skies are blue, so that when the skies are dark you can truly serve your served agency. And, by the way, be skilled, trained, and competent amateur radio operators! - QST NFL - newsletter of the ARRL Northern Florida Section, April 2023 issue

K1CE for a Final: Service DENIED

Last month, I was privileged to deploy and serve a minor role in a major Florida exercise -- the ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET), dubbed "Service DENIED" -- as a shelter radio operator. The scenario was as follows: ". . . news stations across the state have reported mass outages of all telecommunications services throughout the state of Florida due to a cyber attack. Service outages began with internet service being unavailable, but the outages have since spread to cellular and traditional voice communications methods. As the minutes go by the situation continues to worsen with sweeping blackouts in various portions of the state. Panic is evident among the citizens as roads become gridlocked in an attempt to buy supplies, groceries, and fuel in fears that supply may not be available. Additionally, lines at banks begin to form due to fears that credit and debit cards may be unusable, and citizens begin withdrawing cash at an alarming rate. Fuel supplies and stored batteries have gradually been drained down as this disaster has worn on, and at this point you are nearing the end of conventional backup energy sources."

My assignment was to report to a local shelter (a public library) and assist public safety professionals there with deployment of a Mutual Aid Radio Communications (MARC) vehicle. The task was to erect the 50-foot mobile aluminum tower with amateur radio antennas mounted on it and provide message and SITREP communications. (We are located in very rural Columbia County, in northern Florida bordering Georgia.) We were to provide remote command and relay for all south county traffic, and establish communications with SARnet, the statewide 70 cm FM repeater network, NCS, EOC, and Relay on both Tactical and Command Nets. VHF, UHF and HF was to be used as needed. For shelter operations, our job was to receive and transmit Health and Welfare radiograms.

I worked with Jim Taylor, KQ4CIJ, a quiet, unflappable communicator of professional grade, at the library parking lot exercise site. When things started to unravel, Jim remained cool, calm, and collected as we worked through a major problem. He is exactly the kind of operator anyone would want to have on their team or as a partner. The problem: We quickly realized why these kinds of exercises are conducted in the first place -- the antennas mounted on top of the 50-foot tower would not work (we had used the coax cables supplied with the vehicle). We then tried a handheld with no luck, and finally resorted to using my Icom IC-9700 with 100 W FM into my vehicle's rooftop 5/8 wavelength mag-mounted whip, which provided the necessary coverage: the work-around scenario worked.

I'll have more on this exercise in next month's issue after the After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) is drafted, approved, and published. I'd like to offer special thanks to ARRL/ARES Columbia County EC Brad Swartz, N5CBP, for his excellent leadership and cool-under-fire approach for our ARES SET response. -- Rick Palm, K1CE

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.

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