First Joint Tribal Emergency Management Conference Held
ARES and RACES were featured during the National Tribal Emergency Management Conference, August 13-15 in Airway Heights, Washington. The largest gathering of tribal disaster preparedness, recovery, hazard mitigation, and homeland security professionals in the country was organized by the National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC) in conjunction with the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council (NWTEMC), and was hosted at a facility owned by the Kalispel Tribe. Tribal emergency management leaders who attended this conference expressed interest in building an Amateur Radio component into their emergency/disaster preparedness plans.
Of the 566 recognized tribes in the US, the Pacific Northwest is home to 272, and 29 are in the State of Washington. Conference guests included Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, US Sen Mark Begich, US Sen Jon Tester, Acting FirstNet General Manager T.J. Kennedy (US Department of Commerce), and others. Approximately 400 attended.
During pre-conference activities on August 11 and 12, Jack Tiley, AD7FO, and Bob Peterson, KE7RAP, taught a Technician license class, and eight students passed the Technician examination.
In response to a National Weather Service severe thunderstorm warning on the evening of August 12, Spokane County EC Robert Wiese, W7UWC, coordinated a weather-spotting net on the W7GBU 147.30 MHz repeater. While conference attendees experienced the thunderstorm activity, they were unaware of the net. A subsequent description of the net provided current and relevant additional content for the "Disaster Communications via Amateur Radio" presentation on Wednesday morning, however. During an over-the-air VHF demonstration with amateurs located elsewhere in Spokane County, a FEMA Citizen Corps volunteer talked briefly with Lori Aberle, KG7IEO. A description of the repeater's coverage area by Scott Christiansen, WA7SRC, garnered very positive comments from those attending the conference.
ARRL Idaho Section Manager Ed Stuckey, AI7H, set up an HF station on Thursday, stringing a 40 meter dipole between speaker stands in a hallway outside the conference rooms. Although the “Faraday cage” provided by the building inhibited nearly all attempts at indoor HF reception, the display generated considerable interest from conference attendees for more than 4 hours, following the "Building Your Amateur Radio Station" presentation.
On Friday, attendees were able to view a live Ad Hoc Mesh Network during the "Amateur Radio Digital Data Communications" presentation.
ARES/RACES groups were encouraged to welcome tribal communities in their respective areas and to ensure interoperability with the tribal EOC as part of their operation plan and to invite tribal emergency communication teams to take part in local drills and exercises as well as to licensing classes. — Thanks to Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, ARRL Western Washington Section Official Emergency Station (via the ARRL ARES E-Letter)