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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
September 20, 2023
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES® Briefs, Links

ARRL New Jersey Sections Sign Agreement with American Red Cross
Hurricane Lee Activations.

Amateur Radio Ops Support Utah Bike Race.

The 2023 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) will take place on Sunday, October 29 in Washington, D.C., and Arlington County, Virginia. The MCM Ham Volunteers team is looking for 150 amateur radio operators to support the event by providing racecourse situation reports.

The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is scheduled for October 7 - 8, 2023. Get Ready, Get SET, Go! - Plan and Prepare now!

Hurricane Idalia Response

ARES and other operators served communities affected by Hurricane Idalia. Idalia made landfall Wednesday, August 30 on Florida's Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. The storm tracked across Georgia and into South Carolina, and on Thursday morning it had moved offshore of North Carolina.

ARRL volunteers staffed key positions across the affected region. Section Emergency Coordinator of the ARRL Northern Florida Section Arc Thames, W4CPD, led the activation of Amateur Radio Emergency Service® volunteers within the Section. [See his note at the end of this newsletter - Ed.]

The Florida Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) was the primary emergency communications system used during the storm. The system is a series of linked UHF repeaters that covers the entire state. There were also HF nets linking counties to the state EOC.

In a message to ARES leadership in the affected Sections, ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, reminded them of gear at ARRL Headquarters that can be deployed if necessary. "We have equipment assets in our Ham Aid program available to you for loan if you have a need to backfill. These can be used during long term recovery efforts as needed," wrote Johnston.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an ARRL-requested emergency waiver to HF symbol rate limits to allow higher speed data communications in the Amateur Radio Service response to Hurricane Idalia. Read the waiver (PDF)

Many counties in the ARRL Northern Florida Section were activated. Section Manager Scott Roberts, KK4ECR, was at the Clay County EOC for 27 hours. "We had a good number of our Northern Florida counties activated, as well as other places in the state.There were four shelters open here in Clay County alone," he said. Roberts said the final information was still being tallied, but he knew of activations in Duval, St. Johns, Escambia, Marion, and Leon Counties.

In Ocala, the Marion County Emergency Radio Team (MERT) was activated to support shelter operations on Tuesday, August 29. Marion County ARES was placed on standby to support the MERT team and other served agencies. The county was spared the brunt of the impact. Marion County ARES Emergency Coordinator Hayden Kaufman, N2HAY, said the activation identified some opportunities for improvement in the area's disaster response. "We were very fortunate to have had little to do. However, the activation provided us some insight on factors that would impede communications in an emergency," he said.

Ham volunteers worked with the County Sheriff's office to ensure the amateur radio equipment on board the Marion County Mobile Command Center was fully operational before it was deployed to Madison County, the area most heavily impacted by the storm.

Kaufman thanked the many local volunteers for their service during the hurricane. "I am personally proud to be a member of our increasingly tight-knit EmComm community," he said.

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the storm called for "all hands on deck." Ahead of impact, the intensity and track of the storm greatly concerned him. "I have been watching and plotting hurricanes for over 35 years. I have witnessed, many times, a hurricane cross a state line into another as a hurricane...two states were hit by the same hurricane. Never have I seen a storm cross three states as a hurricane," said Graves.

The WX4NHC amateur radio station at the National Hurricane Center was also active during the storm, as was the Hurricane VoIP Net. - ARRL News Desk

Winlink ShakeOut Exercise Next Month

The Winlink Development Team (WDT) continues its successful collaboration with the US Geological Survey to provide real event and exercise "Did You Feel It?" (DYFI) earthquake intensity reports via Winlink. All Winlink users are invited to send Exercise Winlink DYFI reports on October 19, 2023, at or after 10:19 local time with Exercise ID: 2023SHAKEOUT. For step-by-step Winlink DYFI Exercise instructions and additional information see the Winlink ShakeOut Website and the details below.

What is ShakeOut?

The Great ShakeOut is the world's largest earthquake drill. It is held annually on the third Thursday of October, and millions of people participate all over the world. In 2022 over 45.6 million people registered their participation. The goal of the ShakeOut is to teach people how to protect themselves during an earthquake.

Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills across the U.S. are coordinated by the Southern California Earthquake Center in partnership with ECA, CUSEC, state and national emergency management partners, with support from FEMA, NEHRP, NSF, and USGS.

The ShakeOut drill is simple. At the designated time (or whenever works for you or your organization), participants practice self-protective actions such as "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" or "Lock, Cover, and Hold On" if they use a wheelchair.

How to Participate

  1. Register your volunteer radio group for the Great ShakeOut.
  2. Send Winlink DYFI ("Did You Feel It?") exercise reports on October 19, 2023,after 10:19 (local time) to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Exercise ID: 2023SHAKEOUT
  3. Conduct local radio nets or functional radio exercises to test your group's preparedness.

The Great ShakeOut is also an opportunity to learn more about earthquake preparedness. Participants can learn about the different types of earthquakes, how to create an earthquake safety plan, and how to make their homes and businesses more earthquake-resistant.

The Great ShakeOut is a great way to get ready for an earthquake. Many preparedness lessons from the Great ShakeOut also apply to floods, fires, landslides, and other disasters. It is also a chance to connect with your community and learn how to help others in the event of an earthquake or other disaster. Look for more details on the Winlink ShakeOut Website in the coming weeks.

Open Letter from the National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC Operators

Hello Fellow Ham Radio Operators:

In cooperation with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, and WX4NHC, we are asking for your assistance during this hurricane season. The most important role amateur radio plays in hurricanes is to gather and relay information to the National Hurricane Center's Amateur Radio Station WX4NHC.

While there are mechanisms to do this, we are always looking for more assistance in this vital job. You could be the only station in the impacted area and your Eye Witness Reports or measured data, if you have a weather station, could be critical to the forecasters. You could be the only station hearing some other ham calling with a report or needing assistance in a dangerous situation they are in. Also, you could play the important role in translating a ham's report into a language that we understand. So, as you can see, everyone has a part they can play.

WX4NHC on 14.325 MHz is a frequency that you should always monitor during a hurricane. [More information can be found on the WX4NHC website]. This frequency is maintained for hurricane reporting and response by the Hurricane Watch Net. The VoIP Hurricane Net utilizes EchoLink and IRLP to link stations together over the internet. When HF propagation is not good, sometimes this is the only way information reaches WX4NHC.

The EchoLink Conference Room is WX-Talk (Node 7203) and IRLP Node is 9219. More information can be found here. We ask you for your support and assistance anytime the Hurricane Watch Net, VoIP Hurricane Net, and WX4NHC are active. The part you play may save someone's life! - Operators of the NOAA National Hurricane Center Station WX4NHC

September Is Emergency Preparedness Month - Perspective from a Pennsylvania County

Since February 2003, "Ready" has been a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to teach Americans how to prepare for and respond to emergencies, whether natural or man-made. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.

National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2023 National Preparedness Month theme is "Preparing for Older Adults." This year's theme, events, and materials will focus on preparing older adults for disaster, specifically older adults from communities that are disproportionately impacted by the all-hazard events, which continue to threaten the nation. Older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies we now face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas.

In general, the "Ready" campaign asks all individuals to do four things:

  • Stay informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses
  • Make a family emergency plan
  • Build an emergency supply kit, and
  • Get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies

Blair County (Pennsylvania) ARES volunteers have the last bullet point covered. However, if you don't have the first three covered, you won't be "Ready" to help out as a Blair County ARES volunteer.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Ready Campaign, National Preparedness Month (NPM) is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. The goal is to increase awareness about the importance of preparing for emergencies and to encourage individuals to take action.

Locally, hams can subscribe to Blair County's specific alert service. Blair County ARES volunteers are involved in their community's preparation for, response to, recovery from, and mitigation of, natural and manmade disasters. However, they also know you are useless to the greater community if your family is not taken care of first.

Use September to test your amateur radio equipment. Do you check in to nets with your home station, which is plugged into the AC mains, and connected to an antenna mounted on top of a permanent tower? What if the tower was blown over? What if the AC power mains are down? Try going through the whole month with just emergency power running your station and use a portable antenna. Try going portable to check in to the local nets. Review the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book for reference and guidance.

Have a radio "go-kit"? Use your radio go-kit during September. See if you have everything you need in the kit to get a station on the air from a location other than your home. Take your go-kit and set up away from your home to check into a net. Not that ambitious? Try doing the ARRL VHF Contest using just your go-kit station set up on your deck, porch, or patio. Try a POTA activation!

Take advantage of this year's National Preparedness Month to think about ways to prepare for emergencies or disasters that could impact your family and community. For additional information about National Preparedness Month and ideas on how to better prepare you and your family for disasters, go to - Drew McGhee, KA3EJV, Editor, Blair ARES Alert! September 2023

Mississippi Conducts Its SET on Hurricane Scenario

Mississippi ARES conducted its statewide ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) on Saturday, August 12, 2023. The Mississippi (MS) ARES team spent the last 7 months planning and training for this operation, and initial reports are that the SET was very successful. The team operated for 12 continuous hours beginning at 4:30 AM. Numerous instances of simulation emergency communications messages were passed via amateur radio networks on behalf of local, county, and state organizations.

The SET scenario was a landfalling hurricane named ICYMI. ARES county emergency operations teams as well as state RACES operators got into the fray. Everyone that checked into the nets received traffic handling experience as preparation and training for when the real situations develop.

For 2023, there was significant use of NBEMS digital as well as Winlink email that was directed to the main state level served agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). While the scenario included a hurricane, there were also power disruptions, flooding, tornados, traffic accidents, and even a downed NASA satellite -- the Civil Air Patrol simulated a search and recovery effort in the Tupelo area. -- ARRL Mississippi Section News, Malcolm Keown, W5XX, Section Manager

Amateur Radio Helps Air Show Fly High

In Tennessee, more than 40 members of the Nashville Amateur Radio Club, Williamson County ARES®, and Stones River Amateur Radio Club partnered to provide operations support leading up to and throughout the 2023 Great Tennessee Air Show. On June 10 - 11, 2023, the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team headlined the show. Tom Delker, K1KY, Air Show Communications Coordinator, said that amateur radio operators from the Middle Tennessee Emergency Amateur Radio System have been supporting the air show since the mid-1980s.

Operators were able to employ multiple technologies during the event, including simplex radio operations, RF mesh networking, mobile VoIP phones, IP surveillance cameras, APRS tracking, and weather monitoring and measurement. Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority Director John Black and Deputy Director Salil Rai expressed their sincere appreciation for the team and all those who worked the event. This volunteer amateur support translates to operations money that can go directly toward community projects.

In addition to the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team, historic aircraft, including the Spirit of Detroit DC-3 and the Blue Angels' "Fat Albert" C-130 Hercules, also highlighted the show.

Event organizers said they expected more than 50,000 people to attend the event. The next Great Tennessee Air Show is scheduled for 2025. - ARRL Letter, June 2023

Northern Florida SEC W4CPD for a Final: Hurricane Idalia Response

ARES volunteers are a remarkable group of individuals who share a passion for amateur radio and a strong commitment to community service. When Hurricane Idalia made landfall, these volunteers were already prepared, equipped, and organized to respond swiftly to the impending crisis. Their dedication to preparedness and their extensive training made them invaluable assets during this challenging time.

We directly know of at least 12 counties that activated their ARES resources to support operations at shelters and emergency operations centers in preparation for, during, and after Hurricane Idalia. Volunteers from both Leon and Bay counties provided support to the State EOC radio room. The volunteers at the State EOC operated a closed net on SARNET, the Florida statewide repeater network, and monitored HF frequencies. In addition to our direct support of the EOCs, volunteers from inside and outside of Florida staffed an emergency HF net that monitored for any counties that might have lost their ability to communicate using traditional methods such as cellular, landline, and the internet. We stand these nets up shortly before a hurricane is to make landfall and work to stand them down as quickly as possible. These nets are stood up at the request of the Florida State Division of Emergency Management.

The frequencies we choose for our nets aren't random. They are actually listed in several FOGs (field operations guides) such as the AUXFOG and FLCOMUFOG. I would like to extend a deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the response to Hurricane Idalia and for those amateur radio operators that were kind enough to share the airways with us as we responded when called upon. From our net control stations to those staffing emergency operations centers, your work does not go unnoticed, and we are thankful for everything you do to support your communities. - ARRL Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Arc Thames, W4CPD


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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