Here’s the latest ARES Newsletter compiled and published by HQ ARRL.
Views expressed in this ARES update are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Accessed on 20 July 2022, 2351 UTC.
Content reprinted with permission of The ARRL. Copyright ARRL.
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July 20, 2022
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs, Links
The city of Waldo, Florida, has its first EOC. The Gainesville Amateur Radio Society (GARS) worked with city management to establish a room at the Waldo City Square that can serve the citizens with emergency communications. The Alachua Chronicle published an article about the collaboration. Please see additional story below.
The New England Emergency Communications and Public Service group hosted a presentation by former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on July 18. It is anticipated that Administrator Fugate’s presentation will be available on-line. (There are numerous videos of Fugate’s presentations over the years; search YouTube for the videos).
A 2-minute Nassau County (northeastern Florida) ARES video shows this month’s EOC recabling project by the group.
SoCal Shifting 2022 Functional Exercise
The weekend of June 18-19, 2022, saw more than 100 amateur radio operators flexing their Winlink hybrid email/radio system skills during an earthquake scenario functional exercise centered on Southern California and dubbed “SoCal Shifting 2022.” Organized by ARES LAX Northeast, other participating groups included LA County DCS, San Diego ARES, San Diego County Sheriff ACS, and Ventura ARES/ACS, as well as the United States Geological Survey USGS and many other groups across the US.
The goals of this Winlink exercise were to:
· familiarize participants with the battle rhythm of organized earthquake response,
· encourage operators to share their reports with more than one organization with the intent of working toward a common operating picture, and
· practice Winlink under blue skies and identify challenges to operator form submissions and net control/traffic station message handling.
Word quickly spread about the exercise and in addition to operators from coastal and central California ARES groups, operators affiliated with various organizations such as LAFD ACS, Red Cross, Rapid Response Communications Assistance Group (RRCAG, from Texas, see reference information below), and Seal Beach CERT joined the exercise. The Emcomm Training Organization (ETO) publicized the exercise, encouraging operators from across the United States to participate.
Operators were free to choose their bands and locations. Some elected to operate from parks or hospital locations, while others participated from home. The organizers also advised the USGS DYFI (Did You Feel It) team of the SoCal Shifting 2022 exercise ahead of time. “Scenarios and exercises are always welcome,” Vince Quitoriano, contractor for USGS, wrote in reply.
SoCal Shifting 2022 Initial After Action Report – LAXNORTHEAST
What Went Well
Operators overwhelmingly sent in excellent reports based on the scenario. Latitudes and longitudes were correct and mappable in all but a handful of the 370+ messages received. Most operators included all the recipients the exercise asked for. What Can Be Improved: The 12-hour check-out delay was to simulate an end of shift. Most opted to send their check-outs with the other traffic.
Some stations commented that they learned about new forms, and some experienced propagation challenges and are exploring alternative pathways. Stations feel more confident tackling the next exercise. On the net control side, we learned that stations using PAT Winlink Peer to Peer (P2P) are not mapped automatically in Winlink and net controls need to be aware of that.
Given the amount of data involved, net controls/traffic stations also need to pay close attention to capture all messages and de-conflict if necessary. In regular exercises and deployments, it is the sending operators’ responsibility to ensure the traffic has been received and read.
This exercise came together in less than 5 days thanks to the close exercise coordinator collaboration of ARES LAX Northeast, LA County Sheriff DCS, San Diego ARES, Ventura County ARES/ACS and the Emcomm Training Organization (ETO). We would also like to thank all coordinators of the many participating organizations for distributing this exercise and encouraging their members to participate. Special thanks to Bob Tykulsker, KM6SO, for producing an excellent results map and doing a deep dive analyzing the data received by LAXNORTHEAST. Bob created a fun Watermelon count map, available by clicking on the link.
USGS received 110 DYFI reports related to this exercise. LAXNORTHEAST received 94 check-ins and 78 check-outs. 83 DYFI reports related to the exercise were received by Ventura ARES/ACS. Maps are available.
Daniel Sohn, WL7COO, ARRL San Joaquin Valley Section Emergency Coordinator offered the following response: “SoCal Shifting 2022 stands out as a real ‘Field Day’ Exercise, demonstrating on a National level an impressively successful, organically evolved, Amateur Radio Service, grass roots HSEEP process executed exquisitely well over the last couple of years. Kudos went to each of the Coordinators and every Amateur Radio operator in each of the groups participating. SoCal Shifting 2022 stands out as a landmark demonstration that the Amateur Radio Service is a National Resource.” See the report here. – Thanks, Oliver Dully, K6OLI, Winlink Development Team
[RRCAG is the Rapid Response Communications Assistance Group. It was formed 10 years ago when Texas created several Rapid Response Teams around the state. When created, amateur radio was a part of these teams. Today the RRCAG is attached to the ARRL West Gulf Division. – source: John Galvin, N5TIM]
[Editor’s note: Oliver Dully, K6OLI, serves as District Emergency Coordinator for ARES LAX Northeast, which provides amateur radio communications backup for 911 receiving hospitals in northeastern Los Angeles County. Operators with ARES LAX Northeast use innovative technologies such as Winlink with VARA HF, VARA FM, Packet and AREDN mesh, for examples, to provide amateur radio solutions for the complex communications demands of medical facilities when commercial options may have been compromised. He is one of the initiators of the VARA FM Winlink Autobahn connecting Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Dully has authored several popular Winlink Quick Guides for Packet and VARA FM. He coordinates the Winlink Did You Feel It (DYFI) project, a Winlink Development Team collaboration with the United States Geological Survey. With his friends, Dully enjoys supporting events such as the AC100 UltraRace and the Baker2Vegas Relay Cup Race.]
Club Collaborates with Rural City to Build First EOC
By Barbara Matthews, KO4TWZ, Gainesville (Florida) Amateur Radio Society Public Information Officer
When the Gainesville (home of the University of Florida campus) Amateur Radio Society (GARS) began its volunteer efforts to create the first EOC for the rural neighboring City of Waldo, it was truly going to be a journey of talent and treasure hunting. Starting from scratch, the depth of skills in the GARS group soon became evident. Waldo, a city with less than 1,000 residents, needed a creative partner: GARS members stepped up. The room offered by the city was a former computer lab in the shuttered Waldo Community School. The building, constructed in the 1920’s, was upgraded with emergency power capability, but there was no air conditioning and it was empty. It was a canvas upon which many skill sets would paint a technical masterpiece.
In order to equip the room, executive board member Larry Rovak, WB2SVB; Pete Winters, W4GHP, the GARS Treasurer, and club Vice President Shannon Boal, K4GLM, employed Winters’ excellent documentation of the club’s nonprofit status and proceeded to the University of Florida Surplus sales department in search of computer equipment. When the sales staffer heard of the need and purpose of the EOC and the club’s status was assured, great things happened: UF donated five computer setups. The 10-year-old Dell desktops (complete with monitors, mice, and keyboards) had Intel I5 chips and 8 gigabytes of RAM. They had tested but “wiped” hard drives.
Rovak used his computer technology expertise to check the machines and then loaded Windows 7 on three machines (to be used for logging programs) and Windows 10 on two (one to be used for digital logging and one to act as the logging server). The logging software the club will be using is N3FJP. In order to get the machines to all communicate with each other, he was able to activate the building’s hardwire internal network and created a private IP network within the room. He was also able to modify the Wi-Fi signal of the building (which houses Waldo’s city government) and converted Wi-Fi into ethernet and fed it into the room’s private network for internet access (useful especially for EOC functions).
Club volunteers prepped the room, furniture and power supplies and installed four stations, with complete equipment. The antennas are connected through the window of the second story room to the roof and pole locations. Corkboards were put up, and the club donated dry-erase city, state, and US maps. The cooperative effort between GARS and the Waldo City government means this room is available for club use and training sessions; in turn, the members will maintain the room and are ready to assist city citizens with emergency communications by manning the EOC communications positions. For more information about GARS please go to www.gars.club. – QST NFL, newsletter of the ARRL Northern Florida Section
ARRL Section News
Pacific Section — Hawaii Hurricane EmComm Drill
Hawaii Hurricane Emergency Communications Drill Held — Makani ‘Ino is Hawaiian for “big wind” and the name of Hawaii’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) hurricane emergency communications drill. The drill’s purpose was to assess the ability of amateur radio operators to establish emergency radio communications in the event of a severe infrastructure failure due to hurricane-like conditions.
In addition to testing two-way radio communications, the drill also used Winlink Global Radio Email® to send and receive messages from surrounding islands and participating agencies. Radio operators first used radio, then sent simulated digital messages using Winlink for reports and requests for assistance.
Hawaii ARES Public Information Officer Michael Miller, KH6ML, said, “With this drill, we were also trying to increase the level of participation, so that all operators have the chance to develop the skill sets for real-world situations.” Miller added, “It is important for younger, and/or newer, amateur radio operators to know they can use their digital skills in emergency situations.”
Miller also said they will be sending after-action reports to participating agencies, such as the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross, to help improve their communications with radio amateurs and amateur radio technology. This is the second statewide drill conducted by Hawaii ARES in 2022. – The ARRL Letter, John E. Ross, KD8IDJ, Editor
Minnesota Section — ARES, Your New Situation Unit
At Hams in the Park earlier this month, a member of the public walked up to our communications trailer and asked what we were up to. I explained amateur radio and emergency communications. He asked the usual question–what is your role in the age of cell phones? It’s a good question–an excellent answer was found at our “Downdraft 2” exercise last week. This coordination and exercise was called by Ryc Lyden, KD0ZWM, the Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MNVOAD) President and Minnesota ARES (MNARES) ASEC-L.
Minnesota Section Emergency Coordinator Benton Jackson, K0BHJ, said, “The exercise was designed to use ARES volunteers to practice communicating between VOADs. In addition to ARES, we had volunteers from the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Team Rubicon. We paired up a VOAD volunteer with an ARES communicator at each work site, and they had a lot of fun generating simulated traffic. We also had VOAD volunteers at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to provide simulated traffic.”
Led by MNVOAD, we were hosted by Washington County and the City of Cottage Grove. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Team Rubicon sent top leaders. The State of Minnesota was there. We built a flooding scenario using the HSEEP Exercise Planning Template. We had several simulated worksites, including a sandbag production site, a sandbag distribution site, and a Temporary Evacuation Point.The main EOC was out of Cottage Grove City Hall, with no fixed antennas for us. All information was then relayed to the Washington County EOC. We brought serious experts, and did our best.
Our host and coach was Emergency Manager Gwen Martin (PhD, Emergency Management). After the exercise, we asked how we did. She was so impressed with the information that we were providing, using our CAN-P (Conditions, Actions, Needs and Personnel Accountability) reporting that she called it “pure gold” for the emergency manager and wants to promote this to other emergency managers.
Actions speak louder than words: We were invited back next year for a larger version of the exercise, with an evacuation scenario for an island that regularly floods. Martin then thought for a minute, and said she would use us as part of the “Situation Unit” in future large events. This unit is under the Planning Section in the ICS: they prepare the maps and briefings for the Incident Management Team (IMT). There is even a position called “Field Observer” — Field Observers (FOBS) are responsible for collecting incident status information from personal observations at the incident and providing this information to the EOC. The EM Martin also indicated that from now on she wants the Comm Team to be at the table next to her.
This exercise fixes so many role problems for us–we are not just the third wheel over in communications. We are now where we need to be, with the trusted, seasoned professionals, providing leadership with reliable situational awareness, not swayed by organizational politics, or rumors on social media. — — Erik Westgard, NY9D, Assistant SEC-T, ARRL Minnesota Section
Colorado Section — High Park Fire Response
Colorado ARES provided amateur radio operators for the federal Type 1 Incident Management Team fighting the High Park Fire in Teller County, Colorado. The fire was reported on Thursday, May 12. Due to other deployments such as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico, no National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG)-certified RADOs (Radio Operators) were able to answer the call for several days. We have had 12 ARES operators who have supported as RADOs, not using amateur radio. Duties have involved radio operations on the Command channel, inventorying, cloning, issuing, and receiving radios. The initial COML and COMT were extremely pleased with our support. Our operators also helped establish and remove a fire radio repeater and an amateur radio repeater on nearby Mt. Pisgah to fill in coverage. Teller County Search and Rescue relies on Amateur Radio and were having a problem communicating from the initial ICP. Subsequently, an INCM and one RADO arrived, and ARES was still assisting, but with reduction of the number of operators. [The Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM) is responsible for managing the administrative documentation and inventory of the Communications unit and acts as a Radio Operator (RADO) in the absence of an operator. The INCM supervises RADOs in the Communications unit and reports to the Communications Unit Leader (COML). The INCM works in the Logistics functional area.]
Additionally, when the fire initially kicked off, some residents reported never getting notifications. Cellular and internet service is not great in much of the county and the old alert system had been bought out and not everyone had updated their information. There may have also been glitches in the system. As a result, the Teller County Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office PIO requested that members of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club, which operates several repeaters in the county, disseminate information about evacuations, closures, and shelters via ham radio with the hopes of getting information into the hands of other local operators who could in turn get this information to their neighbors.
One of the ARRL Colorado Section PIOs worked initially with the Sheriff’s Office PIO and then with the incident JIS (Joint Information System, an ICS function) to help get the word out via social media, since most of the local news media and many local hams already follow the local ARES accounts.
The incident transitioned back to local control on May 20 and we stood down from the RADO role at that time. The Mountain Amateur Radio Club did continue to disseminate info after that, but we also had some weather move in and significantly dampen the fire. I believe that they have ceased monitoring for hot spots. Total person hours was about 320 hrs. Photos can be found on the Pikes Peak ARES Facebook page. — John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, ARES Region 2 Emergency Coordinator, and ARES PIO, ARRL Colorado Section
Northern Florida Section — Testing Hurricane Shelters’ Communications Systems Resumes
Before 2020, St. Johns County ARES (SJC ARES, south of the large city of Jacksonville) tested each site designated as a hurricane shelter in the event of evacuation as to the ability to communicate via ARES amateur radio from the shelter to the county Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Each site is a school in the St. Johns County School District. There are 15 sites designated as possible hurricane shelters in the County. In addition to the shelters, ARES also conducts communications tests from the radio room at Flagler Hospital to the EOC.
The tests have varied in format from year to year. In each year, the test was performed with individual operators proceeding to a number of shelters with their own equipment and connecting to the pre-installed antenna at each shelter. In one year, as an additional one-time test, the operators were to try to communicate with a low-powered handheld transceiver, point-to-point with the EOC.
In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of these tests. As a result, the testing of communications between the shelters and the EOC had not been done for 3 years. An after-action report described the methods, procedures, and results of the testing performed in February 2022. The documentation of this exercise can be found here. [And is well worth reviewing. – Ed.] During the testing, the operators were instructed to download the manuals for their respective shelters from the SJC ARES website. An example of a manual can be found here. The manuals all show photographs with directions to the location of the radio room and the location of the antenna connection in the shelter.
FEMA Modernizes Mobile App to Improve User Experience
After a year of working with designers, programmers, and disaster survivors, FEMA rolled out new features and a new design for the mobile app, which should increase engagement for the 2022 hurricane and wildfire seasons.
The app is designed to be a tool that empowers survivors with the information they need to make informed disaster decisions. With this app you will:
· Be Informed. Get the information you need to make disaster decisions for your family.
· Access your disaster toolkit. The FEMA resources you need are always in hand.
· Personalize your app experience. Get preparedness information, alerts, sheltering and assistance information specifically tailored to your location.
· Feel in control. Use the FEMA App to understand how to prepare for a disaster and where to go during one. Customize the information you receive so it’s always just a click away.
Learn more by watching the FEMA App animation and visiting the App web page. Current users will need to update their app and enter profile information but will not need to re-download it to access new features. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, do it today and be better prepared for disasters. – FEMA news release
Emergency Management Institute’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Virtual Courses FY23: K0427 CERT Program Manager and K0428 CERT Train-the-Trainer
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) will offer the K0427 CERT Program Manager and K0428 CERT Train-the-Trainer courses online. Participants will learn how to establish and sustain an active local CERT program and deliver FEMA’s CERT Basic Training course.
Cost: No cost. Students must have a FEMA Student Identification number (SID), computer with microphone, speaker, and stable access to the internet. Visit the FEMA Student Identification System to obtain a SID. To Apply: Prospective students should apply through the Emergency Management Institute’s online admissions system. For additional information, contact Jamie “Betsy” Mauk, EMI Course Manager, at Jamie.email@example.com. Please refer to the EMI website for course date availability.
K1CE for a Final: Notes from Field Day ’22
I enjoyed supporting the members of the Columbia County Amateur Radio Society (CARS) in Lake City, Florida, with setup and assistance with their fine Field Day effort. It was an efficient setup process, with some minor antenna and radio glitches that were expertly troubleshooted by some savvy tech-oriented operators. One tool that I had never seen used in my over 40 years of Field Days, was an antenna analyzer. This device turned out to be a game-changer for the CARS Field Day crew, quickly identifying a bad bulkhead connector, and examining the SWR graphs across the bands. It told us instantly about our antennas’ efficiency. I would recommend such a device for all aspects of operation in the field, for future Field Days, and deployments to incidents and events. They’re not inexpensive, but worth their weight in gold, in my humble opinion. There are several models available; check out the advertising pages in QST. I also congratulated CARS on its fine public information campaign, which netted visits from the Lake City Reporter, the county’s Sheriff, and the county Emergency Manager. See photo.
One of the reasons for its great score and success was two Field Day practice/preparatory sessions for operators, which were run under the Incident Command System (ICS), and complied with a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Plan (HSEEP) template. I participated in one of them. Check out their training exercise and evaluation plan here.
Bravo, CARS, and thanks for having me along this year!
I returned home to operate my station in the 1E category, logging 70 CW QSOs on 20 meters. (Band conditions were a bit tough). I submitted my score and log, and uploaded my QSOs to ARRL’s Logbook of The World. I was happy to see my QSLs populate there.
When you really think about it, Morse code and the CW mode is the bedrock of emergency communications (tapping two wires together is all it takes). All other, more advanced and efficient modes have stemmed from its humble beginnings when on May 24, 1844, Samuel F. B. Morse transmitted the first message across a telegraph line (radio wouldn’t be invented for another 50 years) connecting Washington, DC, to Baltimore. I say, Fine Business, Mr. Morse. — 73, Rick, K1CE
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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