Here’s the latest Amateur Radio Emergency Communications News compiled by the “ARES Letter.”
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News update are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Accessed on 16 February 2022, 1358 UTC.
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February 16, 2022
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs, Links
Save the Dates – Cascadia Rising 2022 — This FEMA National Level Exercise is a follow-up to Cascadia Rising 2016. The scenario begins with an abrupt shifting of the Earth’s crust along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, resulting in a full-length rupture of that fault between Cape Mendocino in Northern California and Nootka Island in British Columbia. This produces a magnitude 9.0+ earthquake with numerous aftershocks, some exceeding magnitude 7.0, which disrupt response efforts. Subsidence and a tsunami will drastically impact coastal areas. Ground shaking, liquifaction, and landslides will affect nearly every area west of the Cascade Mountains.
Although both Oregon and Washington scaled back their participation, both the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC), and several counties are still planning Functional Exercises. These organizations will have ample amateur radio emergency communications opportunities.
WSDOT will do mostly bridge inspections, and these will be held on June 15-16, although volunteer groups could choose to do inspections in their area on a weekend if more members are available to participate during those periods. Clark County ARES/RACES practiced doing bridge inspections, including test-driving the new Winlink form, as part of their 2021 Simulated Emergency Test.
The NTEMC will need a full slate of amateur radio communications support as they will be exercising FEMA Emergency Management Response Phases 2a, 2b, and 2c over the course of 11 days, June 9-19. No group will need to play on all days, but there is plenty of opportunity for VHF/UHF and HF, both voice and Winlink. Some of the ESF #2 activities will involve communications with federal and state agencies, within tribes and between adjacent tribes, taking and relaying safety assessments of tribal infrastructure and small airfields, tracking of general aviation planes delivering supplies, and radio support for other responding entities (CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, general aviation pilots, HAZMAT teams, etc.).
If your RACES/ARES/ACS/AuxComm or other emergency communications group has a tribal nation nearby, or you have an Away Team that could travel to an adjacent county, please contact me for exercise details. — Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, ARRL Assistant Director – Tribal Liaison, ARRL Northwestern Division
Published twice monthly for the FEMA Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group (RECCWG) stakeholders, the FEMA Disaster Emergency Communications News Clippings and Topics of Interest newsletter provides articles of interest from various sources across the emergency communications and homeland security communities. The Vol. 10 Issue 1, (January 1 – 15, 2022) contained the following item:
Disaster Zone Podcast: Amateur Radio Systems — January 2, 2022: “Amateur radio is emergency management’s last best hope for maintaining communications in a disaster when all other systems fail. This podcast is an interview with two leaders from the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (Seattle ACS), Tim Helming, [WT1IM], and Catherine Middleton-Hardie, [KJ7DYG]. Seattle ACS supports the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. In the podcast you will learn all about the different types of amateur radio organizations, the equipment, frequencies and wide variety of missions and activities that amateur radio operators support; and a bit about how Seattle ACS is organized and maintains their operational readiness.”
Alachua County, Florida ARES team members participated in their twice-monthly operational training net on Thursday, January 27, 2022. The purpose of the net was to test simplex communication.
The net required check-ins on the local ARES net repeater, and then moving to an unused simplex frequency. Net Control for the training net was located at the top of a local hospital’s parking garage; the second-highest location in the county was selected due to unobstructed line of sight in all directions.
The results were quite promising, with eight operators from around the county checking in and exceeding the expectations of simplex communications locally. The exercise yielded critical information about successful communications without use of the local repeaters. — ARRL Northern Florida Section news
On February 18, at 0100 UTC (the evening of Thursday, February 17, in North American time zones), the US Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) will host a Zoom call to discuss amateur radio and AUXCOM support to the US Department of Defense. During this presentation, the NETCOM representative will discuss:
· the authorities for these operations
· upcoming DOD exercise opportunities for 2022, where outreach to the amateur radio/AUXCOM community will be a primary training objective
· use of the five 60-meter channels
· the concept for the types of amateur/AUXCOM outreach.
There will be an opportunity for Q&A throughout the presentation. Use this Zoom link to attend. The meeting ID is 837 8115 4615, and the passcode is 670665.
ARRL National Convention Emergency Communications Academy Offers Hands-On Training; Glimpse into the Future; Introduction of New ARRL DEM; Affirmation of League Commitment to EmComm – 122 Registrants Attend
The ARRL Emergency Communications Academy was held on February 10 in conjunction with the ARRL National Convention at Orlando HamCation®, with subject matter experts from an array of emergency and disaster communications communities serving as panelists and instructors. The diversity of presenters’ backgrounds was a key to the patently successful day-long session. Just about every facet of knowledge and experience was represented.
Panelists included ARRL Field Services Manager Mike Walters, W8ZY, one of the principal architects of the highly popular Red Cross Winlink Thursday exercises. The new ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, was introduced. ARRL section-level managers and coordinators including Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Arc Thames, W4CPD, and West
Central Florida SEC Christine Duez, K4KJN, representing ARES® and the National Traffic System were on hand to discuss plans, programs, and issues in their respective sections and areas of expertise. There were emergency management officials from the states of Florida and Georgia, among others, and the Federal government. From the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) was the newly appointed Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC); from Georgia was the state’s AUXCOMM coordinator. Other panelists and attendees included two AUXCOMM course trainers, a representative from the US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Information Security agency (CISA) emergency communications department, and a two-term former FEMA administrator, among many others. Other subject matter experts rounded out the slate of presenters and instructors.
The room was packed with pre-registered students from across the country, as far away as Washington State, representing another level of diversity that added value to the session. They came equipped with radios and laptops, ready and excited to participate in the hands-on training sessions planned. The official count of attendance was a whopping 122. Academy Lead Instructor Gordon Gibby, MD, KX4Z, said, “I think one might be hard-pressed to find a more diverse group of instructors and students; I’m grateful to each and every one for taking the time to present their knowledge and experience for others to learn from and enjoy.”
Speakers offered a look into the future of volunteer radio amateurs’ roles in state government emergency management, specifically in state-level emergency operations centers, and the possible training requirements leading to credentialing for state EOC access. State planning staff are considering that a volunteer operator will need to progress through a series of learning and training programs, starting with the now-familiar, basic FEMA Independent Study courses IS-100, 200, 700, 800 (and possibly others), followed by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications Auxiliary Communications course completion, check-off of the items of the Auxiliary Communicator (AUXC) Position Task Book, and finally credentialing by the specific state emergency management agency involved. The AUXC is a relatively new position likely to be added to the Communications Unit (COMU) of the Logistics Section of the NIMS/Incident Command System emergency management structure. It’s a position that may be open to ARES members and other radio amateurs in general, but may be open to licensees in other personal radio services, too.
Speakers encouraged check-offs of the items in the ARES and Florida Position Task Books as well. It is expected that more AUXCOMM courses will be available across the country as the staff of DHS/OEM and state agencies embraces the AUXCOMM Train-the-Trainer (TtT) education. Important note: It was emphasized that the training, certification and credentialing sequence described above by the speakers is likely to be limited to service at the State level; i.e., the State EOC. It should not affect volunteer ARES and other amateur radio operators serving their local, county emergency management agencies and EOCs: how radio amateur volunteers are coordinated and utilized at these levels will be left to the discretion of local/county government, as it always has been.
The audience was informed of the new National Interoperability Field Operations Guide Version 2.0 that was released last fall. A new version of the current Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) Version 1.1 is expected in March. The Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) is a reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an amateur radio organization supporting public safety.
Speakers emphasized that the AUXCOMM program is not designed to replace the venerable ARES program; rather, it is meant to complement it. AUXCOMM ‘s more narrow scope of practice is limited to support of relationships with government emergency management and public safety agencies. ARES operators who have taken the AUXCOMM training and have had check-offs in their ARES and other Position Task Books, however, will have a head start on program material mandated by the AUXCOMM program for State government credentialing.
Hands-On Training Leads to Engagement
There was far more than just speeches and “talking.” The emphasis was on learning by doing in several of the academy efforts; for example, participants moved traffic with their handheld radios in live nets, on various frequencies. Newcomers to Winlink learned how to download and set up their computers with the software, and get registered on the network. They sent email messages via Telnet Winlink and made live HF ARDOP and VARA radio connections and message transfers on a live HF system. Gibby said, “Our preferred mode of teaching was SEE IT, DO IT.”
Other Highlights Punctuated the Day
Highlights of the day-long session included exceptional, dynamic presentations from C. Matthew Curtin, KD8TTE, Warrant Officer, Signal Section, Ohio Military Reserve, and founder of the BLACK SWAN exercise and training program that has pioneered interoperability among agencies and NGOs. Curtin opened the sessions with an overview of amateur radio response to disasters and how communication works through layers of networks and interchanges. View his series of excellent YouTube training videos.
Helen Straughn, WC4FSU, retired public safety communicator with the Florida State University and Tallahassee police departments, along with Curtin, covered basic voice Radiogram message transfer and capturing radiograms into the ICS-213 form, the message format employed in the Incident Command System. A simulated net session demonstrated message transaction practice from message origination to sending, receiving, and finally, delivery.
The academy’s ARES Forum was conducted by newly appointed Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Arc Thames, W4CPD [the day was started with a moment of silence for former SEC Karl Martin, K4HBN, who passed away three weeks ago]. A recurring theme of the forum was the critical importance of the healthy relationship between the ARES member and leadership, with the local/county emergency management and other served entities including public event coordinators. “Our job is to offer our help if they want it; to perform any task they need done, even if it’s not directly related to radio-communications,” Thames said. “We serve them, not the other way around.” Thames was joined by West Central Florida SEC Christine Duez, K4KJN, who discussed the CERT program in her section and the challenges and rewards of managing a large ARES community.
A riveting AUXCOMM forum on the theme of integration of amateur radio emergency service groups featured the comments of the newly-appointed Florida SWIC, the Georgia AUXCOMM coordinator, two AUXCOMM class instructors, and two-term former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, which was expertly moderated by Leland Gallup, AA3YB. Gallup is a lawyer who served in the US Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and then as a civilian attorney for the Federal government. The panelists laid out their visions for the future of the amateur radio role in AUXCOMM, as discussed above. Administrator Fugate spoke to the fact that no other aspect of emergency support functioning can occur without communications.
Lead instructor Gordon Gibby, KX4Z, an electrical engineer, anesthesiologist, and high school advanced chemistry teacher who has galvanized Alachua County (home of the University of Florida campus in Gainesville) radio amateurs with his regionally and now nationally recognized training exercises conducted strictly under the ICS protocols, opened his session with a brief discussion and demonstration of Winlink emergency communication tools. He quickly turned to getting students in the room to be able to download the Winlink software, register with the network, and send a short message via Telnet Winlink. It was a challenge for many students, but a stroll around the room revealed 75-80% of the laptop screens displayed Winlink up and running. Some chaos added to the fun!
Curtin and Gibby gave an educational – and wildly entertaining demonstration – program on emergency antennas: guidance on field-expedient antenna systems, NVIS propagation, and RF exposure compliance. This session was a particularly big hit with conferees.
Rounding out the incredible day was an expert overview of emergency power sources, including the advantages of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, by Earl McDow, K4ZSW, who worked in medical research computer data acquisition and analysis, and later, in the Oak Ridge nuclear complex and research universities in Tennessee.
Conclusion: Signs of Success
It was a long day for presenters and students alike, but by 5:00 PM, no one had left their seats: a sure sign of success and engagement. The panelists and instructors also happily noted that “The evaluations from the audience were excellent (scored 4.4 average out of 5) and provided lots of ideas for further improvement on what were very well-regarded talks.”
The program that was implemented for the communications track is at https://qsl.net/nf4rc/2022/
Talking points of presentations can be found at these links:
See also the full set of presenters’ powerpoint slides here.
New England ARES, SKYWARN Mobilizes for Major Winter Storm and Blizzard
Amateur Radio operators across New England were active with a major winter storm and blizzard causing several feet of snow, hurricane force wind gusts at the coast, tree and power line damage from the combination of wet snow and damaging winds in portions of East Coastal Massachusetts, particularly Cape Cod and the Islands, and minor to moderate coastal flooding at the time of the high tide cycle. The blizzard broke various records and placed in the top 10 of major snow events in the cities of Boston and Providence.
“It was a long weekend of ARES-SKYWARN operations with extended ARES operations over Cape Cod and the Islands,” said Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator and SKYWARN Coordinator.
Western Massachusetts ARES and SKYWARN supported a Western Massachusetts Emergency Net on 3944 KHz throughout the entire day, open to all amateurs in New England with over a dozen nets yielding close to 100 reports of snowfall and other conditions. This was coordinated by Net Manager Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, and his team of net controls at the discretion of the Western Massachusetts ARES SEC, Bob Meneguzzo, K1YO.
The New England Echolink and IRLP reflector system was also utilized, with many SKYWARN reports relayed on that system. Close to a dozen repeaters had rolling Amateur Radio SKYWARN Nets gathering snowfall reports, damage reports, and current conditions from around the region. DMR was utilized for SKYWARN efforts both in Southern New England and across portions of the state of Maine.
“The Amateur Radio nets provided a tremendous amount of situational awareness regarding snowfall accumulations and the high rate of snowfall that was occurring, storm damage and wind gusts that were reaching hurricane force gusts across East Coastal Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, and moderate coastal flooding at the time of high tide. Over 115,000 customers were without power in Massachusetts, with outages centered over Southeast Coastal Massachusetts and especially Cape Cod and the Islands where the combination of wet snow and damaging winds caused the most damage. The information was shared with the National Weather Service, Massachusetts Emergency Management, and the media providing an up to date situational awareness picture in near realtime of what was occurring as the blizzard affected the region,” Macedo said. Read a post-blizzard message summarizing most of the data.
Cape Cod ARES Operation
In addition to rolling Cape Cod ARES-SKYWARN nets every 2 hours, Cape Cod ARES supported operations at the Barnstable County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) supporting the Multi Agency Coordination Center (MACC) operations at the EOC as well as regional shelters. Close to a dozen radio amateurs supported the ARES operation and SKYWARN efforts.
“We had operators supporting shelters in the towns of Falmouth and a regional shelter at the Barnstable Middle School in Barnstable, Massachusetts,” said Frank O’Laughlin, WQ1O, Cape Cod ARES District Emergency Coordinator. “In the town of Sandwich, operators staffed the town EOC as well as two warming centers while I staffed the county EOC”, said O’Laughlin. “A key issue we had was various generator failures at some sites that extended shelter operations into late Sunday Afternoon before commercial power was restored sufficiently where our operations stood down late Sunday afternoon.”
Amateur operators in the Cape Cod ARES activation included Tom Wruk, KB1QCQ, and Jason Ludwig, KC1MLQ, at the Barnstable Middle School shelter. For the town of Sandwich, operators included Bill Lapine, W1WAL, who is also the Deputy EMA Director for the town of Sandwich, Chris Ranney, WA1CMR, and Dennis Driscoll, N1RDN, for the Sandwich Warming Centers and Heather Gallant, K1BOH, at the Sandwich EOC. For the town of Falmouth, Henry Brown, K1WCC, operated from the shelter with Mel Trott, KC1ELB, staffing the town of Falmouth EOC. Many other operators provided SKYWARN reports from the Cape Cod ARES group with Lem Skidmore, W1LEM, and Barry Hutchinson, KB1TLR, acting as Net Control stations for the SKYWARN Nets. – Thanks, Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator and SKYWARN Coordinator
K1CE for a Final: Observations of the ARRL EmComm Academy
It was a pleasure and a real privilege to observe the panelists and instructors do their thing at the ARRL Emergency Communications Training Academy session described above. In over 40 years of running and participating in these kinds of programs for ARRL volunteers, this one was far and away the finest, most effective and engaging conference I’ve ever been involved with. The key to success was the diverse panel of subject matter experts who served as the panelists and instructors; they captivated the audience with their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm. The audience was also a diverse group, from many different interests and disciplines. I spent a lot of time observing the students during the course of the day — their engagement was manifest.
One of the main takeaways from the conference for me was the sense of affirmation of the ARRL’s commitment to excellence in emergency communications programs and training, which goes back more than a hundred years (read the “Emergencies” chapter in 200 Meters and Down, by Clinton B. DeSoto, published in 1936, for examples).
In addition to the February 10 training program, two other recent actions affirm ARRL’s embrace of its emergency communications and public service administrative responsibilities to its volunteers in ARES and other amateur radio emergency and disaster response groups and volunteers:
· The recent hiring of Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, new ARRL Director of Emergency Management. Johnston has 16 years of experience as Director of Johnson County (Arkansas) Department of Emergency Management. Johnston is also certified in FEMA NIMS as a CISA AUXCOMM-prepared Communications Unit Leader (COML). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Administration and Management from Arkansas Tech University.
· And, the addition last year of new ARRL Field Services Manager Mike Walters, W8ZY, who helped coordinate the Winlink Thursday training sessions that have taught hundreds of Winlink operators about the nuances of the popular hybrid email/RF system. Mike has a history of service in ARES in the Connecticut ARES program, serving as District Emergency Coordinator for the state’s Region 5.
It was a pleasure meeting these two personable, highly qualified new members of the ARRL Headquarters staff. They bode well for ARRL’s agenda of support for its Field Organization ahead of this year’s disaster situations and responses to come. – Rick Palm, K1CE
· Download the ARES Manual [PDF]
· ARES Field Resources Manual [PDF]
· ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Fillable PDF]
· ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Word]
· Emergency Communications Training
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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Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)
Public Information Officer
Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section