Here’s the latest edition of “The ARES Letter” from HQ ARRL.
Views expressed in this Amateur Radio News update are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Content provided by HQ ARRL, Newington, CT, 06111.
Accessed on 16 June 2021, 1318 UTC, Post 2,089.
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June 16, 2021
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARESÂ® Briefs, Links
ARRL Field Day is right around the corner: June 26-27. Field Day is an excellent exercise and training event for ARES groups. Some ARES FD groups will be conducting operations at their local EOC: (Class F) Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) is an amateur radio Field Day station at an established EOC activated by a club or non-club group. Field Day Rules are here.
The WX4NHC Annual Station On-the-Air Test was successfully held on Saturday, May 29. The event helps radio amateurs practice sending meteorological observations during severe weather incidents. This year, WX4NHC had six operators working from home stations. WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator, Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said “We feel that the on-the-air test was very successful, especially as our operators were all working from home, using different antennas and from different locations — one of our operators, Ken Reid, KG4USN, was located in Maryland.”
Ripoll reported that although HF propagation was less than ideal, “we made a total of 205 contacts on 20 and 40 meters, and 31 contacts on the EchoLink VoIP Hurricane Net, including with several NWS and SKYWARNâ¢ stations.” Ripoll reported a large increase in the number of Winlink message/reports received, reflecting the substantial rise in interest in the data mode hybrid RF/email network that has developed through popular training exercises over the course of the past year. WX4NHC received 93 reports via Winlink. “We made many contacts with Caribbean stations, such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, with the most distant contact being made with Portugal,” he said, adding “Surface reports from stations inside a hurricane back to WX4NHC fill in gaps of data for National Hurricane Center forecasters that can help save lives.”
As of this writing, in conjunction with the National Hurricane Conference this week, the traditional Amateur Radio Workshop sessions were expected to be held virtually June 15, with moderators Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations, VoIP Hurricane Net, and Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant Coordinator of the National Hurricane Center’s amateur radio station WX4NHC. It is expected that video of the workshop sessions will be published on YouTube.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season, which started on June 1, will likely be a busy one for Hurricane Watch Net stations reporting ground truths in real time for use by National Hurricane Center forecasters, and for SKYWARN observers/operators. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 MPH or greater), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 MPH or greater), including three to five major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5, with winds of 111 MPH or greater) expected. NOAA projects these ranges with a 70% confidence level.
VoIP Hurricane Net Director of Operations Rob Macedo, KD1CY, announced that the VoIP Hurricane Prep Net meets Saturdays at 0000 UTC. “The VoIP Hurricane Net Management team is looking for net controls to staff the VoIP Hurricane Prep Net on a weekly basis and for net activations for land-falling hurricanes,” Macedo said. – excerpted from ARRL News; thanks, Rick Lindquist, WW1ME
Separate SATERN Nets Now Operational — The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) launched a new SATERN International SSB Net on June 2 on 14.325 MHz. Net sessions will take place Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 AM Central Daylight Time, in cooperation with the Hurricane Watch Net, which has used 14.325 MHz for many years during its own activations. The Salvation Army is an ARRL partner by virtue of a longstanding memorandum of understanding. The Strategic Auxiliary Team Emergency Readiness Net has established itself on SATERN’s former frequency of 14.265 MHz. Read background here.
Revitalization, Reorganization of ARRL Field Services Announced. Mike Walters, W8ZY, who has been involved with field volunteers for many years and is currently the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) for Connecticut, is now serving as the Field Services Manager. Click the link above to read the full story.
Los Angeles ARES Northeast District Conducts Exercise,“Return of the Operators”
On May 31, the ARES LAX (Los Angeles, California) Northeast District conducted its fifth Saturday Exercise – dubbed SatEx and themed “Return of the Operators” – which was deemed a “smashing success.” Assistant District Emergency Coordinator for the Hollywood district, David Ahrendts, KK6DA, was credited with devising a challenging exercise scenario that included deteriorating conditions and focused on building an ad hoc network of stations for the response.
Event and Out-Of-Area Traffic
The exercise began with a simulated earthquake at 0830L. Participating stations sent DYFI (Did You Feel It) reports to the US Geological Survey (USGS) and welfare messages to their out-of-state contacts through HF and VHF gateways. Stations were encouraged to use the K6YZF-11 VARA FM digipeater to connect to Winlink hybrid RF/email gateways AJ7C, W6BI and K6IRF.
Hospital Message Traffic
At 0900 the hospital net commenced operation on the southern California Disaster Amateur Radio Network (DARN) and stations with digital traffic were directed to ARES 501 (local designation for an emergency simplex frequency) to pass hospital traffic to the Medical Alert Center (MAC). No infrastructure digipeaters were to be used, simulating deteriorating conditions post-event. In an ironic twist, life imitated exercise with conditions actually deteriorating on the 2-meter band after 0900! However, without skipping a beat, stations affected asked for relays, and digipeater operators and other stations offered to act as relays and digipeaters. Their training kicked in and stations overcame adverse conditions effectively. See diagram for a graphic look at the hospital network.
Hospital stations sent a list of check-ins, Hospital Status Assessments, Resource Requests, and check-outs using Winlink. Beaconed Hospital Service Levels using APRS were transmitted to the MAC station during the exercise. The MAC station responded with acknowledgements and replies containing simulated approvals and ETAs for resources requested. In some cases the traffic was sent directly to the MAC; in others, stations coordinated digipeats of messages through other hospital stations.
Â· Powering stations is an ongoing challenge. Solar panels and high capacity batteries paired with low current draw devices proved effective remedies for some stations.
Â· Location. While some hospital stations enjoyed rooftop access, others had to operate at street level, often surrounded by buildings. It was impressive how the latter stations overcame their location challenges through creativity and teamwork. Digipeating through other hospital stations, for example, proved an effective remedy.
Â· Antenna height and location. Several stations commented on field antenna height and/or location as challenges at their sites. Mitigation suggestions from those stations included trying different deployment systems, relocating antennas and trying directionals going forward.
Â· Operators are well trained and displayed excellent esprit de corps.
Â· Traffic handling was effective in spite of challenging conditions.
Â· Regular training and practice prior to the exercise helped overcome in-the-field challenges during the exercise.
Â· Operators acted in calm, collected, professional manners and worked well together as a team.
Â· Even without infrastructure, stations were able to pass traffic, building an ad hoc network of hospital stations.
Stations provided ICS-214 Activity Reports post-exercise. The quality of the reports was extremely high and they fostered understanding of the challenges at stations and how the operators overcame them. Some stations provided written after action reports in addition to the ICS-214. A Zoom hot wash was conducted with participants sharing their experiences. – Oliver Dully, K6OLI, ARES LAX Northeast District Emergency Coordinator
Georgia’s Northwest District ARES Goes Portable for Training Exercise
“Dispatch a portable Winlink station and team to the Red Cross warehouse and prepare to receive traffic” is a deployment instruction ARES teams in Georgia could receive the next time there is an incident, so Northwest District ARES members engaged in training to assess their skills in meeting the instruction. The Portable Operations Training Exercise, dubbed POTe, took place on Saturday, May 22, at the Georgia ARES Command Center in Pickens County. The day kicked off with classes that focused operators on completing tasks designated in the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book.
The exercise was devoted to testing the skills of the operators with a series of tasks and injects (problems/issues injected into the exercise to be solved on the fly) for the teams to complete and address. More than 50 operators from nine county ARES groups participated in the POTe. Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator, Frank Dean, K4SJR, said this exercise will be rolled out to all Georgia ARES districts over the next several months. Dean believes there are three main reasons exercises like the POTe are important:
1. Training and completion of the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book.
2. Learning and improving skills on deployment as well as understanding and completing tasks in the field.
3. Building relationships and learning to work with neighboring counties. The morning classes were taught by members of the Mutual Assistance Team as well as state and district emergency coordinators who are focused and experienced on the subject matter presented.
Classes covered installing Powerpoles and PL-259 connectors, building a dipole antenna, operating Winlink on VHF and HF, learning and practicing with the ICS forms most frequently used and required, and
operating as net control in an emergency or official activation.
The teams took their new skill sets over to their portable deployment stations where they started with the simple task of transmitting an ICS-211 incident check-in form listing the names and call signs of the team members present. The tasks then became progressively more challenging:
Â· Send a Winlink message stating the number of functioning portable Winlink stations your team currently has and how many VHF gateways you can currently access.
Â· Activate a Resource Net on the 70-cm itinerant frequency and send a list of available operators to Command.
Â· Dispatch a communications team with a portable Winlink station to the mock fire station and prepare to receive traffic.
Adding to the challenge, the POTe command team also introduced a series of injects to simulate situations that can and do arise when deploying for portable operations. The injects included making the teams use the coax and Powerpole jumpers built during the morning
classes as well as more stress-inducing incidents like a tent or trailer catching on fire. The teams also had to deal with not receiving Winlink traffic from Command and their assigned frequencies being in use by ragchewers.
During the lunch break the teams were treated to a visit by the Emergency K-9 Operations Search and Rescue Team. The dogs are training as certified Therapy Dogs so they can comfort the families of missing persons and work with children and adults facing emotional, mental, or physical challenges. In a deployment, operators may see these impressive dogs and their handlers working alongside the responding personnel.
When asked why it’s important to participate in district-wide events like the POTe, District Emergency Coordinator Felton Floyd, AF4DN, said, “This exercise brought teams together who had never met other teams on a personal basis. They got to know each other by working in skills classes and coming together to complete a task. Without this we would just know the name and the call from a net every week. This way, we actually built a relationship on an in-person, face-to-face basis.” — Renee Conaway, KK4LOJ, Northeast Georgia Assistant District Emergency Coordinator
Delaware Counties’ AUXCOMM Exercise Simulates Rising Waters Response
On May 22, the Sussex County (Delaware) AUXCOMM organization conducted a multifaceted “outside exercise” involving amateurs from Sussex and Kent Counties. The scenario was a heavy rainfall causing streams and ponds to rise, presenting possible hazards. Mobile operators were dispatched to simulate the assessment of water level data at assigned locations and report it back to a central collection point. This exercise involved mutual aid from outside Sussex County, thus getting play from the Kent County ARES/RACES mobiles. After reporting their assessed data, the mobiles read travel directions from a random local citizen to a “Rally Point,” simulating obtaining directions from a citizen who may not know the names of streets and house numbers, but could give landmarks.
The exercise involved three types of operators: mobile stations, fixed stations (to relay mobiles’ information to the Rally Point) and the Rally Point (where a portable station was set up). Mobiles were given a packet of information outlining where each objective was located and what information they were to gather from each location. Once this information was obtained, the mobile gave the information to the Rally Point, or in the case of not being able to reach the Rally Point directly, give the information to a fixed station for relay to the Rally Point.
The participants exercised mobile VHF simplex operations, practiced collecting and reporting simple observations, practiced operating in a net and relaying messages, learned how to follow “local” directions based on landmarks, demonstrated use of portable HF stations, setup a go-kit in the field, and controlled a portable net without a computer. Since the exercise was operated under ICS protocols, it involved following directions of an Incident Action Plan (IAP), complete with an ICS-205 for frequency assignments.
Demobilization was completed with a hot wash and networking among the participants and leadership. Over all, the players performed well. Participants proved that VHF simplex can work very effectively: simple but valuable observations of conditions that emergency management
would need to know can be relayed quickly, accurately, and efficiently by the VHF simplex nets. This proved that newer hams that have taken basic training with simple equipment can be a valuable asset in an emergency.
The portable HF antennas that were deployed did not work as well as expected. The antenna used was a “twin ham stick” in a NVIS configuration that the “home” stations could not hear. The band was noisy that day and may have contributed to the problem, but VHF simplex, as stated, worked very well.
The Value of Networking
Exercises are valuable for the training aspect, but also for the socialization and networking of the members so that when an incident occurs requiring response, responders already know one another, and their skills. The exercise gave the players a chance to put into action the knowledge they had acquired in the ARES classroom. Nothing helps reinforce training more than seeing where it actually brings everything together and it works. – Jerry Palmer, N3KRX, ARRL Delaware Section; Mentor, ARRL Introduction to Emergency Communications Training Course
Silent Key: Roger Turner, W1ZSA, Eastern Massachusetts ARES/SKYARN, Town EMA Director
Roger Turner, W1ZSA, longtime Walpole (ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section) EMA Director and creator of Norfolk County ARES-SKYWARN passed away recently. Turner was one of the originals who propelled SKYWARN in the Eastern Massachusetts section to the next level, creating a strong group of amateurs focused on ARES, SKYWARN and public service. Turner offered town facilities for SKYWARN training, ARES workshops and as backup resources for the Boston Marathon communications effort for many years.
Many hams credit Turner with getting them involved in Amateur Radio and Emergency Management. Kelvin Mahoney, K1FPP, said “Roger was one of the main reasons why I took an interest in the emergency management and communications fields — I took a CERT class from him when I was just 16 years old.” John Robinson, W1JFR, said “Turner encouraged me to shift careers in my 40s and our conversations about everything and anything Walpole, communications or emergency management, could last for hours.”
A “last call” for Turner was conducted on various sector RACES nets in Eastern Massachusetts and on the Eastern Massachusetts ARES Net. The script used for the last call can be viewed.
Many amateur radio operators, police, fire and other public safety officials attended the wake as a proper tribute to Roger’s memory. — Robert Macedo, KD1CY, ARES SKYWARN Coordinator, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator
K1CE for a Final: Field Day, Think Safety First
I can’t wait to operate a 2-hour shift at the Alachua County Communications Center and EOC! Wishing readers a fun, productive and safe ARRL Field Day! Here are some excellent safety tips.
Â· ARES Plan
The Amateur Radio Emergency ServiceÂ® (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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Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)
Public Information Officer
Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section