Welcome to “The ARES E-Letter” update from Big Island ARRL News. Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents. Content supplied by HQ ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT, 06111. Editor: Rick Palm (K1CE).
Accessed on 16 October 2019, 1535 UTC, Post 1160.
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October 16, 2019
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
Register Now, Participate in Tomorrow’s Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill
Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes: “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” ShakeOut also has been organized to encourage individuals, communities, schools, and organizations including ARES groups to update emergency plans and supplies, and learn to secure places for safety.
Register as an individual or ARES group today. Tomorrow, October 17 at 10:17 local time, is the official drill time, but individuals and groups are free to hold their drill at any time. The drills are organized in each Official ShakeOut Region by a wide range of local and national partners including FEMA, the United States Geological Survey, National Science Foundation, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, Central United States Earthquake Consortium, and others. More information here. Participate!
New Puerto Rico Red Cross/ARES MOU and Emergency Communication Development Two Years After Historic Storm Devastation
Last week, on October 10, the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the ARRL Puerto Rico Section, citing good experience during recent emergency and disaster responses, especially to the Hurricanes Irma and María events. The first MoU was signed on March 3, 2017. “We cannot forget the help of the Force of Fifty who came as Amateur Radio volunteers for the Red Cross to help with the coordination of sending supplies where needed,” said Angel Santana, WP3GW, ARRL Puerto Rico Section Public Information Coordinator.
Santana reported on events over the past two years following the devastation of the 2017 hurricanes on Puerto Rican lives. Many new Amateur Radio operators have been licensed, most with a special interest in emergency communications. A special class and exam session at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez graduated new amateurs as part of a new program to develop an emergency communications system. New amateurs also meant more net participation. Puerto Rico Section Technical Coordinator Carlos Roig, WP4AOH, has mentored new hams, giving tech training talks on local nets, providing tips on emergency communication practice, go-kits, antennas, radios, portable power and answering questions on numerous other topics.
Amateurs in municipal emergency management agencies now run drills/nets every first Sunday of the month based on the 12 zones of the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau (PREMB) administration. A faith-based organization has developed the Radio Communications Emergency Net on the island of Vieques with Amateur Radio serving as principal resource.
Lastly, the new governor has raised the administration’s visibility of Amateur Radio as an emergency/disaster response communications asset. – Thanks, Angel Santana, WP3GW, ARRL Puerto Rico Section Public Information Coordinator
ARES Briefs, Links
The Weather Channel Cites “Old School Tech” Amateur Radio as Storm Resource (9/30/19) ARRL Seeks Emergency Management Director (9/19/19) Nevada ARES/RACES Deploys for “Storm Area 51” Event (9/19/19) Mount Diablo ARC Assists in Restoring Storm Damaged Repeaters (9/17/19)
IARU Region 2 Third Emergency Communications Workshop Covers Recent Disaster Responses, Plans
The third Region 2 (the Americas) Emergency Communications Workshop (ECW) was held in Lima, Peru, earlier this month on October 3 immediately following the 20th General Assembly of IARU Region 2. The IARU is the International Amateur Radio Union. The ECW was sponsored by the Executive Committee of IARU Region 2, and hosted by Radio Club Peruano. Region 2 Emergency Coordinators and subject matter experts discussed recent incident responses with the goal of increasing the capacity of amateurs in IARU Region 2 to respond to large scale, multinational communication emergencies and disasters. The ECW provided an opportunity for leaders to network with the goal of increasing cooperation and collaboration for future responses. Twenty-three countries from around the globe were represented.
Among the many highlights of the workshop was a presentation on Winlink, the ever-growing hybrid internet/Amateur Radio email network. For more information and the workshop input and output documents, please see the following link on the IARU-R2 Web page: https://www.iaru-r2.org/emergencies/third-iaru-r2-emcom-workshop/
ARES/ACS Supports 2019 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show, Largest in US
On September 27-29, 2019, over fifty Southern California hams volunteered 500 hours supporting public safety in San Diego, California, at the three-day MCAS Miramar Air Show, the largest air show in the United States and the filming location of the 1986 film “Top Gun.” Performances by the US Navy Blue Angels and the British Royal Air Force Red Arrows drew large crowds that strained anxious public safety services at the annual event. Working daily 12-hour shifts, ARES operators continuously patrolled the crowds looking for air show guests in distress with heat exhaustion or lost family members, while ACS hams liaised with law enforcement agencies and kept information flowing between agencies. An air show highlight was the mid-day break at the ARES mobile base camp for hamburgers and hot dogs expertly grilled by Section Emergency Coordinator Bruce Kripton, KG6IYN, where hams and law enforcement mingled and relaxed amid the frenzy of continuous aerial performances and crowded static displays. High noise levels from low-flying aircraft, amplified by a low marine layer, are of course a challenge. Hams compared notes about whose noise-cancelling headphones work best and how to best secure the HT plugs and avoid open mikes. – Dave Kaltenborn, N8KBC, San Diego, California
Hawaii ARES Leverages Contest Station and Winlink for 2019 SET
ARES operators in Hawaii took the opportunity of the 2019 Simulated Emergency Test (SET) on October 6 to test Winlink radio messaging to the US mainland, using the KH6YY (KH6J) contest station on Oahu. One of the premier contest stations in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, KH6YY offers a commanding propagation path over an expanse of saltwater.
“You have to start with digital modes somewhere,” ARRL Pacific Section Manager Joe Speroni, AH0A, said, conceding, “We have a long way to go.” A group of radio amateurs has developed a robust Winlink system in the Hawaiian Islands to help support communication in a natural disaster. The Amateur Radio email system is well known for its role in emergency and disaster relief communications, providing the ability for users to exchange email with attachments, photos, position reporting, weather, and information bulletins. Winlink was extensively used in the aftermath of high-impact hurricanes in the Caribbean, as well as following an earthquake in Mexico.
For the SET, the station was configured to receive traffic on 7100 kHz in PACTOR, WINMOR, ARDOP, and VARA modes. The four-element 40-meter beam was aimed at Hilo. Simulating an internet outage, the setup was used to pass received traffic to a second 20-meter gateway on 14.105 MHz and forwarded to a mainland gateway with internet access. Incoming message traffic on 40 meters would be automatically forwarded to the mainland on 20 meters. Most of the traffic went to gateways in Mexico and Texas for forwarding to the internet. One user reported receiving email confirmation that a message was received within minutes. — Thanks to Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL, Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, ARRL news desk
Post-World War II History of Amateur Emergency Communications: Organization
A brief history of emergency communications by radio amateurs prior to WWII was summarized in last month’s issue. Let’s start this month’s article where we left off. In sum, more organization was brought to bear: ARRL had established its ARRL Emergency Corps (AEC) prior to the war, in 1935, and after radio amateurs were reactivated post-war, the name was changed to the Amateur Radio Emergency Corps (AREC) with the addition of program-related appointees made by the Section Communications Manager (today’s Section Manager) at the local and Section levels, with ARRL HQ making appointments at the national level. The staff at HQ resisted the title “National Emergency Coordinator,” and rather than a national manager/supervisor/administrator, saw their role more as advisor, to develop the basic principles of organization to allow the program to flower under the true, key leader – the Emergency Coordinator – who knew all of the parties to the program, where the rubber meets the road. The Section Emergency Coordinator’s job was to work with the local ECs to formulate a Section or statewide plan, much like it still is today, some 70 years later! ARRL HQ staff’s job was to try to tie all of the state plans together into a national plan for major disasters, issuing information bulletins, presenting ideas and advice for organizing local and section programs, etc.
With the end of WWII (during which a new War Emergency Radio Service took six months to organize) and the commencement of the Cold War era, discussion with the Federal government centered on placing the Amateur Radio service as the focal point for civil defense communications and a faster response in the event the President invoked the War Powers Act and radio amateurs were ordered off the air (although this has never happened in the four wars prosecuted since 1952). While an initial hope was for AREC to assume this responsibility, perhaps for reasons of national security the new service would be a Federal program regulated by the FCC and overseen by the new Federal Civil Defense administration. The ARRL was to serve as an advisory body, and provide the radio amateurs, many from AREC groups. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) would be administered at the local level by the local Civil Defense agency, the precursor to today’s local Emergency Management (EM) office and EOC. The goal was to keep the public safe in the event of enemy attack: RACES operators would remain active even if regular amateur and other services were shut down in wartime, but with restrictive frequencies and other regulation in the interest of security. ARRL HQ staff worked regularly with the staff of the Federal Civil Defense Agency’s working staff. Commercial telecommunications companies attempted to usurp the program’s mission, but the government recognized the benefit of using Amateur Radio. ARRL staffers became quasi-professional managers, having attended civil defense staff college.
Arizona ARES Convention in the Works
Planning is underway for the ARRL Arizona Amateur Radio Emergency Services Convention in response to the recent visitation to the Coconino EOC by Governor Doug Ducey as well as other excellent media coverage of Arizona ARES successes in emergency events recently. The event would showcase activities, hardware, and capabilities being used and shared in the state. In conjunction with the event, a hamfest would also be held. Two months ago, ARES personnel held a meeting with leaders of the Coconino ARC and the Northern Arizona DX Association to discuss plans and venues that might be pursued. ARES leaders will continue to develop the concept and have as a goal to formalize the event as a State Convention, or perhaps a Division Convention during the July/August 2020 time frame. Monthly planning meetings are currently in progress.
Orange Section (Southern California) ARES
On June 19 of this year, Placer County (California) ARES participated in a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) exercise at Sutter Roseville Medical Center (SRMC). The exercise scenario was a drone strike on a Black Hawk Helicopter landing on the SRMC helipad causing it to crash and start a fire. There were nine “victims” with varying degrees of injuries. Placer Count ARES was located at the Emergency Department and at the incident scene. The ARES operators relayed “victim” injury information from the scene to the emergency department, so the emergency department could be properly prepared to treat the injuries. The exercise was a great success. — Carl First, N6CKV, Placer County ARES EC
Ohio Sheriff Observes and Participates in ARES Simulated Emergency Test
In Greene County, Ohio, one public official not only observed the ARES Simulated Emergency Test (SET) this month but participated in it with Greene County ARES (GCARES). Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, KX8GCS checked in when the Resource Net Control, Bob Baker, N8ADO, of Beavercreek, called for volunteers. Although the suggested scenario called for only using simplex, GCARES used the Xenia Amateur Radio Weather Net (XWARN) repeater to reach out for as many volunteers as possible. Net volunteers then switched to a simplex tactical net to communicate with the GCARES Command Center.
Before the SET, Fischer let Greene County ARES Emergency Coordinator Henry Ruminski, W8HJR, know that he planned to participate in the SET to determine how well his handheld radio would perform in an emergency situation. While he found it okay for getting into the resource net, it was less than adequate for effective simplex operation.
Sheriff Fischer had an intense introduction to ham radio in the spring of 2017 when the Dayton Hamvention ® moved to Xenia, and his department dealt with traffic control and other issues created by the influx of more than 25,000 visitors.
At the urging of several hams, Fischer subsequently got his license, and his wife became re-licensed. Fischer has since upgraded to General.
Ruminski said the SET was “relatively successful.” Signals could have been better from some locations, but most stations were able to communicate with command, he said. Lessons learned will be used to improve future emergency communication plans.
Wisconsin ARES/RACES Conference This Saturday
The 2019 Wisconsin ARES/RACES Conference is being held at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids this Saturday, October 19. The conference is free but registration is required to attend. Registration is now open. Programs include: WECOMM network; Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) — What it is and the role of ARES/RACES in the distribution of the SNS in Wisconsin; Digital 101, Infrastructure to User; System Fusion II/Wires-X; Hotspot Types – How to get on the digital voice mode; Using DMR; Winlink; D-RATS; Credentialing ARES Connect; and First Net overview — how it relates to ARES/RACES.
The Wisconsin SIMCOM2019 was held in Waukesha on May 1-3 this year. The event is an annual test of communications interoperability between federal, state, local government, the private sector, and non-government organizations. Amateur Radio was one of the training tracks and state ARES/RACES communicators were encouraged to attend. SIMCOM is conducted under the incident command system (ICS). Wisconsin ARES/RACES stations were active both on and off site supporting served agency partners with formal and informal message traffic locally, statewide, and within FEMA Region V. A net control station tasked ARES/RACES units in each of the four divisions to receive messages from and send messages to other units within their division and to other divisions and locations. Messages could be formal or informal and be sent by voice, CW, or Winlink. ARES/RACES visited with their public safety and military platform counterparts, originated voice and Winlink message traffic with other SIMCOM divisions via SIMCOM frequencies (listed in the Amateur Radio ICS-205). Other stations within Wisconsin and FEMA Region V sent messages via the National Traffic System. Operators were encouraged to bring mesh networking gear to add connectivity capabilities. The mesh system deployed was the AREDN Project design.
K1CE for a Final
I enjoyed my visit to the ARRL Florida State Convention in Melbourne this past weekend and attended the ARES meeting in the afternoon on Saturday. Florida has three ARRL Sections: Northern Florida, West Central Florida and Southern Florida. All three Section Emergency Copordinators — Ben Henley, KI4IGX (West Central Florida), Karl Martin, K4HBN (Northern Florida), and John Wells, W4CMH (Southern Florida) — were present and discussed the work of meeting the state EOC’s request for a single Amateur Radio point of contact for the entire state for purposes of efficiency and effectiveness in utilization of ARES operators available for deployment and other services. A flow chart for handling requests for operators from the state and other served agencies is in the final stages of drafting and should be published soon. A number of issues involving credentialing and background checks were discussed, and questions were answered. Florida is one of the most vulnerable states to natural and manmade disaster, and I was pleased to learn of the serious work performed by the state with the amateur community for coordination of mitigation, response and recovery communication services.
Section and Division leadership were also in attendance and supportive of the plan. The Southern Florida Assistant Section Manager, Jeff Beals, WA4AW, represented the host Section and provided great hospitality, along with West Central Florida Section Manager Darrell Davis, KT4WX, and Northern Florida Section Manager Kevin Bess, KK4BFN.
Last month, I discussed DeSoto’s classic book of the early history of radio, Amateur Radio and emergency communications: 200 Meters and Down – The Story of Amateur Radio. I learned about the pioneers of radio physics, development and application. I learned that 1908-12 was perhaps the most significant turning point in the history of Amateur Radio as the modern view of the radio amateur was evolved: radio amateurs turned from a concentration of experimentation to become communicators and message handlers with the development of more efficient receivers with tuners and transmitters, the emergence of practical radiotelephony and the beginning of the golden age of Amateur Radio clubs and societies at colleges and everywhere else. I highly recommend this book to all: You can purchase it in the ARRL Store here.
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.
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