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Youth@HamRadio.Fun: Emergency Communications and You(th)

03/11/2009

After an outbreak of storms in Wisconsin's Kenosha County, Amateur Radio operators were ready to assist public service agencies until the communications infrastructure was restored. In many parts of Oklahoma, hams are constantly standing by to assist relief efforts. The point is this: Amateur Radio is a tool and can provide effective local and statewide communications when primary infrastructure has been destroyed. But the question of many hams -- especially young hams -- is, "What can I do to help?"

One disadvantage of being younger hams is the fact that legal guardians are a must for most situations. While you may not be able to go out and save the day with an handheld transceiver after a large storm, there are many ways young hams can aide in emergency operations.

The first step is to join the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARESĀ®) or your local club that works with city or county to provide emergency communications. When you approach your EC (the Emergency Coordinator, basically the president of that ARES group), I recommend that you have discussed with your parents what you can and can't do in an emergency in terms of Amateur Radio response. If your parents are like mine, chances are they're not fond of the idea of having their kid running around a disaster zone in the name of emergency communications. I'd recommend asking your EC if there is a position you could fulfill from home, or even in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) where operations are carried out.

An example of a duty that you could fulfill at the EOC would be Net duty. In an emergency response effort, hams establish a Net to relay emergency traffic or other information to the people responsible for responding to the event. Chances are the Net will last longer than 10 hours, and since hams are human, the primary Net Control (NC) will need a break at least several times in that time period -- you could help as back-up.

Another duty that could be performed is shadowing various emergency response personnel for the city. Believe it or not, not a lot of Emergency Managers have their Amateur Radio license. If they go out to drive around and survey damage, they need to have a link to the ham radio Net in case they hear anything they need to respond to.

I would recommend that you contact your EC and ask what roles there are that you could perform for the group in an emergency. If you know what your parents' threshold of what you can and can't do, let the EC know upfront that you do have limits. Make sure you participate in as many emergency communication drills as you can and consult with your EC and other members. According to ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, you also need to check with your local government officials, as well. "Due to legal considerations, not all emergency management officials can have young people in their domains, such as an EOC," Dura explained. "While you can still help out with your ARES group, you might not be allowed to help out in the EOC."

For Emergency Coordinators, I strongly encourage thinking of ways or creating positions that younger hams could fulfill in an emergency. We're the next generation, and starting emergency response at a young age is the best training for when we're ready to take the helm.

New Contesting Season

The ARRL DX Phone contest is over and the DX contest season is beginning to wane; however, with spring bearing down on us, and summer (hopefully) on the horizon, it is State QSO Party time. Spring and early summer are when some of the most active state QSO parties are held, and when you get your own chance to be the pile-up. Check here to find out when the next QSO Party is, and try to make an effort to operate for a little while and generate some more activity. Maybe invite some friends over as well, as the QSO party format is very friendly toward new and non-hams alike.

Hiram Percy Maxim Award

The Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Award is given to hams under the age of 21 who have accomplished much in the hobby, or have done outstanding service for Amateur Radio. If you know a young ham that has excelled in the hobby, whether it is emergency communications, home brewing or recruiting, please nominate them for this award. You can get a nomination from the ARRL's Web site, and need to turn it in to your Section Manager no later than March 31. Please take some time to acknowledge and recognize a young ham that you feel has made a definite impact on the hobby or yourself.

Upcoming Events

10-10 International Mobile Contest: A great chance to work some E-skip on 10 meters and collect those 10-10 numbers. Contest runs 0001-2359 UTC on March 21. Exchange for non-10-10 members is call sign, name and QTH. Check here for more information.

CQ WW WPX SSB Contest is coming, March 28-29, running from 0000-2359 UTC. The exchange is a signal report and a contact serial number, starting at 001 for first QSO. You can go here to for more information

Deadline for the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Award nominations is March 31 -- turn in any applications to your Section Manager.

Thanks for reading again. 73 and enjoy the spring weather!
Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM

Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM
ARRL Youth Editor



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