Virginia Hams Invited to Help with Inauguration
Late last year, ARRL Virginia Section Manager Carl Clements, W4CAC, and ARES®-RACES Section Emergency Coordinator Ron Sokol, K4KHZ, received an invitation to participate in the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.
According to Virginia Section PIC Joe Safranek, K4JJS, ARES-RACES of Virginia (A/R of VA) works with governmental and volunteer organizations in Maryland and Washington, DC, providing communications support for the National Marathon held each spring: "This made the meshing of A/R of VA into the federal, state, and volunteer groups that plan and execute inaugural events a revisiting of old friends and colleagues."
Safranek said that Clements and Sokol selected Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Bruce Freund, K7BC, to be the project officer for this event. "Freund's daily assigned duties are to manage and coordinate A/R of VA activities for two districts, comprised of some 14 counties and independent cities on or near the western border of Washington, DC," Safranek said. "These districts are managed by Howard Cunningham, WD5DBC, and Tom Lauzon, KI4AFE. They had to ensure that their jurisdictional Emergency Coordinators and members accomplished the mission objectives received from event officials."
Freund and the team of Amateur Radio operators assisting him were tasked with providing backup communications in the event that primary communications were disrupted or went awry. Additionally, Freund had to place A/R of VA operators in various other local governmental facilities, as well as hospital complexes. Safranek said that numerous other personnel were on standby to implement the emergency backup plan as needed: "A/R of VA operators served in several local Emergency Operations Centers and participated in a variety of Nets, including the Old Dominion Emergency Net on HF."
Other RACES organizations and MARS operators manned EOCs and other critical infrastructure facilities as assigned by their designated leaders. ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, monitored both ham radio frequencies and the ARRL HQ ARRL MARS station, AAN1ARL. At the Virginia Commonwealth level, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management opened their EOC where Terry Hebert, KG4GLS, coordinated Amateur Radio activities.
"Amateur Radio operators affiliated with ARES-RACES of Virginia are present in more than 70 percent of the counties and more than 70 percent of the independent cities of the Commonwealth of Virginia," Sokol said. "It is with a sense of humility and a source of pride that our Amateur Radio operators have been selected to participate in this festive historical occasion."