The 2010 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference
By Mike Corey, W5MPC
The 2010 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC) Conference was held October 10-12 in Curaçao (PJ2). At the time most conference attendees arrived in Curaçao, it was a part of the Netherlands Antilles along with Bonaire, St Maarten, Saba, and St Eustatius. By the time the attendees headed home, independence had been declared and Curaçao was its own nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
GAREC is an annual conference attended by radio amateurs from around the world who are involved in emergency communications. This year, representatives from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, the United Kingdom, Cuba, India, Japan, South Africa, the United States and Curaçao took part. The ARRL was represented by ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC.
Topics covered included the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, Amateur Radio emergency communication organizations, how emergency messages are handled, and how an emergency communications exercise is designed and organized. Updates on emergency communications activities in each of the three IARU regions were also given. Greg Mossup, G0DUB, had the attendees do a table top exercise for a large scale international disaster.
At the end of the conference a statement paper was written and approved by the representatives in attendance. This will be available soon on the GAREC Web site.
The week of the conference was an exciting time to be in Curaçao. At midnight on 10-10-10, Curaçao became an independent nation. Those who could make it attended a celebration at the VERONA club house. Shortly after midnight Brett Ruiz, PJ2BR, made the first contact from the independent Curaçao with Yuri, R7MA.
Throughout the week of the conference, attendees also had a chance to get on the air using the call sign PJ2A. This call has been assigned to VERONA, Curaçao’s IARU Member-Society. When not operating from PJ2A, several attendees operated under their home callsign/PJ2. Those who could go on the air as PJ2 were greeted with massive pileups all week long.
GAREC has been held each year since 2005. The meeting location changes each year and is rotated through each IARU region. The 2011 GAREC conference is scheduled to be in Sun City, South Africa in August and will coincide with the 2011 IARU Region 1 Conference.