The ARES E-Letter for April 16, 2014

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April 16,
2014
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

ARES E-Letter Archive

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In This Issue:

 

The “Served Community”

Amateur Radio in Government HF Radio Communications
Test

2014 National Hurricane Conference

CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 2014

TEMA Spring 2014 Exercise

Letters: 16th Annual Communications
Academy

2014 GAREC Planned with Huntsville Hamfest, Alabama
in August

ARRL Partners: REACT is Not Just CB Radio

Letters: Ability to Operate in a Net and Pass
Messages are Critical Training

Amateur Radio Team Supports Half Marathon as Prep
for Boston Marathon

Ohio ARES Group Supports St. Patrick’s Day
Events

K1CE For a Final: Hospital Communications

The “Served
Community”

I would like to lead off this issue with a
recommendation to read Mike Corey, KI1U’s editorial in the Public Service column
in the current (May 2014) issue of QST – The Served
Community. It discusses a new way of looking at Amateur Radio emergency, disaster
response and public service communication services, towards a more shared
responsibility starting with the citizen, neighborhood, community, and
including government, NGO’s, religious organizations, corporations, across all
economic, social, educational and political spectrum. It’s part of FEMA’s
“whole community” approach to emergency management, and I won’t elaborate
here; I’ll leave it to you to read Corey’s visionary overview of this new
approach and what it means to us as radio amateurs involved in public service,
including every Amateur Radio operating interest. — K1CE

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Amateur Radio in Government HF Radio Communications Test

Amateur Radio operators and Federal government radio stations
were recently engaged in a nationwide test of their capability to
communicate with each other by HF in the event of an emergency or disaster. The
12-day joint readiness exercise ran from March 27 through April 7, and covered
all areas of the country using a digital HF radio system known as
Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). This High Frequency Interoperability Exercise
2014 (HFIE-2014) ran concurrently with the federal National Exercise Program
(NEP) 2014.

ALE is a standardized digital signaling
protocol used by each radio service, amateur and government, to establish HF
communications between their stations. For the first time, the government
regulatory agencies (FCC and NTIA) have authorized these stations to
communicate with each other using ALE. HF radio enables long distance
communication independent of terrestrial communications infrastructure, Internet, or
satellites.

To facilitate the communication testing, FEMA
secured temporary authority from the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC. HF radios used by the government
stations have the ALE capability built into the hardware, while Amateur
Radio operators have implemented the same ALE protocols using their personal
computers with ham radio equipment and software. The Special Temporary
Authority allowed for on-the-air testing of interoperability between the
hardware and software-generated ALE capabilities.

The
HFIE-2014 is a semi-annual Amateur Radio readiness exercise coordinated by the HFLINK organization and the
Global ALE High Frequency
Network. It is open to all ALE-capable Amateur Radio stations.
Technical and operational guidelines for amateur and federal government stations
are available here.

The National Exercise Program (NEP) 2014 is a
complex emergency preparedness exercise with activities sponsored by government
departments and agencies, designed to educate and prepare the whole
community for complex, large-scale disasters and emergencies. As part of the
National Preparedness Goal (NPG), it enables a collaborative, whole community
approach to national preparedness that engages individuals, families,
communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations and all
levels of government. — Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, HFIE-2014 Coordinator,
hfie2014@hflink.net

[editor’s note: An update on
results has been solicited from the exercise coordinator, and we hope to have
a follow-up report in the next issue.]

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2014 National
Hurricane Conference

As you’re reading this the
National Hurricane Conference Amateur Radio workshop will have just wrapped
up. Held each year in conjunction with the National Hurricane Conference
the workshop features speakers on a range of topics related to the Amateur
Radio response to hurricanes. This year the workshop, held in Orlando, FL,
was kicked off by National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Richard Knabb.Dr.
Knabb discussed the importance of Amateur Radio in the mission of the
National Hurricane Center.

Speakers at the 2014
National Hurricane Conference Amateur Radio Workshop. Lef to Right – KI1U,
KB5HAV, VE1MBR, KD1CY, Dr. Richard Knabb, K4AG, WD4R, and K4AC

Speakers at this year’s workshop included Bob Robichaud, VE1MBP, of
the Canadian Hurricane Center, Julio Ripoll, WD4R and John McHugh, K4AG, from
WX4NHC, Rob Macedo, KD1CY from VOIP WX Net, Mike Corey, KI1U ARRL
Emergency Preparedness Manager, Doug Rehman, K4AC ARRL Southeastern Division
Director, and Bobby Graves, KB5HAV from Hurricane Watch Net.

The workshop was live streamed. A Q&A session was held at the end with
questions coming from in person and online attendees. The link for the archived
video will be posted soon.

CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 2014

The Large
Atlantic Tsunami Exercise (LANTEX) is a yearly tsunami drill that runs on the
east coast of Canada, the US and the Caribbean basin, to test the reliability
of communication systems and protocols between centers of tsunami alerts
and focal points of communications in the event that a tsunami alert is
issued. In Puerto Rico, the exercise is executed in conjunction with the
Seismic Net of Puerto Rico (RSPR), FEMA, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management
Agency (PREMA­AEMEAD) and NOAA.

This year the drill
was held on March 26, 2014, featuring a choice of two scenarios: an
earthquake on the coast of Portugal, or a submarine landslide in the Gulf of
Mexico. Puerto Rican agencies chose the Portugal scenario, based on a similar
earthquake and tsunami event that occurred in that country in 1755.

The exercise commenced at 6 AM when the simulated alert
notification of an 8.5 magnitude (Richter scale) earthquake was issued. Later at 10
AM, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) was activated on different radio, TV
and Cable outlets to announce the “situation,” always reminding listeners
that this was a drill. Siren systems were tested for

ARRL Puerto Rico Section Emergency Coordinator Carlos A. Rosado, KP4CAR
(left) taking reports from other amateurs on the LANTEX Caribe Wave exercise
2014 from PREMA Zone 6 Office in the city of Ponce. Looking on is José M.
Ríos, WP4KUY, Director of Communications. (photo courtesy
KP4CAR)

performance, and many
government, public and private institutions in many cities conducted their own
evacuation drills to test their preparedness and ability for citizens to
travel safely to their nearest local refuge site. Schools and Senior homes were
the most active.

Since 2010, Amateur Radio has played a
role in these exercises with PREMA at an island­wide level. The
Cuerpo Voluntarios Radioaficionados ­ (KP4CVR) has been the main player in
these drills, and has been activated from the 12 PREMA zones. Each zone
facility is equipped with a Kenwood TS­2000 transceiver, made possible by
a federal grant. The point of contact was on 147.210 MHz, the KP4CAR
repeater, located in Cerro Puntas, in the city of Jayuya, the highest point of
the island, and has sufficient emergency power to stay on the air for a few
days.

The main responsibility of radio amateurs was to
gather reports from amateur stations around the island of how they were
notified by the EAS alert: broadcast radio, TV, Cable or by other means such
as the sounding of sirens. The information gathered is then delivered to
PREMA’s Headquarters for post-exercise evaluations and planning.

At the municipal level, the Bayman Radio Club, an ARRL Affiliated
Club, assisted the EMA of the northern city of Dorado, which was certified
recently as Tsunami Ready. Organized by Jimmy Drowne, KP3BR, operators
volunteered to assist with any kind of communications problem during the
exercise. Drowne’s 447.225 MHz repeater and 146.430 MHz simplex were used.
The group was commended for their support of the drill.

PREMA Director Miguel A. Ríos Torres said that the exercise was a
success, with good lessons learned. — Angel Santana, WP3GW, Public
Information Coordinator ARRL Puerto Rico Section

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TEMA
Spring 2014 Exercise

The Tennessee Emergency
Management Agency (TEMA) is sponsoring one of the country’s premier events for
communications training. The event brings together professionals and
volunteers from across the state to work together for training and realistic
exercises. Participants come from all sectors of radio communications: Amateur
Radio, MARS and professional.
The only prerequisite to participation is an interest and a willingness to
work as a team member. Participants learn new skills and get a chance to
develop relationships with other volunteers and professionals. Licensees with
little experience in emergency communications or who have not attended
prior events are teamed up with more experienced operators for training and
practice.

The exercise will be held at the Tennessee Fire and Codes
Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, about an hour’s drive south
of Nashville. Activities begin at 1:00 PM Thursday, May 1 with command
vehicle deployment having started at about 9:00 AM. Entities participating will
include a wide assortment of agencies, organizations and volunteers
including TEMA personnel, National and/or State Guard, State Health, Vanderbilt
LifeFlight, ARES, MARS, Winlink developers, Bridgestone Emergency Response
Team (BERT), FedEx, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, Red Cross, and
others.

The primary objective of the exercise is to practice
sending and receiving Winlink messages that are relayed to their destination by radio
forwarding without any use of the Internet. Voice radio also will be used for
inter-camp communication and coordination with other sites and off-site
participants. Formal and informal training will focus on a variety of topics
including:

· Working in the field with drop kits, and
command vehicles.

· Setting up HF antennas in the
field.

· Using Winlink to send and receive e-mail
messages via radio

· Use of Incident Command System
(ICS) organization and procedures.

· Team
organization and management

Exercise Scenario: The premise of
the exercise is that a major cyber-attack has been launched against the US
taking down the Internet and critical infrastructures. Teams will practice
sending and receiving simulated messages to coordinate the response. –
Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Winlink Development Team

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Letters: 16th Annual Communications Academy

I attended the 16th annual Communications Academy in Seattle, Washington,
March 22-23, 2014, to acquire a better understanding of the direction of public
service/Amateur Radio communications technology. I am in the process of
rebuilding the Sunset Empire Amateur Radio Club repeater system and I wanted
to connect with those who have done similar projects.

The Saturday presentation by Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, “EmCom: Time for Change
or Obsolescence” was outstanding. Mariotti’s presentation can be condensed
into his talking point: “As technology has changed, Amateur Radio
emergency communications must also change to remain of value.” His presentation
related to his experience in emergency and disaster response communications
and as volunteer coordinator for a twenty hospital Amateur Radio network of
over 15 repeaters.

One of the Sunday presentations by
Tom Cox, VE6TOX, “The Last Two Feet,” concerned one of the significant
problems in EOCs and command centers: connecting within their own organizations
or staffing elements in the same room. His presentation focused on how to
connect with various responders and supporting agencies.

There were a number of public discussion threads, sidebars, and table top
discussions related to ARES and the ICS training. A recurring issue was the
training requirements of FEMA and other agencies. One discussion point was
“what is truly necessary for a volunteer group?” Nearly all agreed not
every volunteer needs the entire training model to be an effective volunteer if
they are not in the EOC. Another issue was the lack of volunteers who have
the time to take on many of the training requirements.

Another discussion issue was how to effectively engage the services of
those amateurs who do not participate in exercises and training, but come out
for real incidents to serve.

I appreciated the
technical expertise that was evident at this year’s Academy. One final take-away
from the conference was that there needs to be more effort to engage younger
people to gain the necessary knowledge and experience in increasingly
sophisticated communication systems. One way to do this is for ARRL conventions
and other events to have strong technical forums similar in scope to those
of the Communications Academy. – Jim Santee, KF7NE, former
President, Sunset Empire Amateur Radio Club, Astoria, Oregon

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2014 GAREC Planned with Huntsville Hamfest,
Alabama in August

The Global Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications (GAREC) Conference will return to Huntsville, Alabama, August 14 and
15, 2014. The conference will be held in conjunction with the 2014 ARRL
Southeastern Division Convention/Annual Huntsville Hamfest, which will be held on Saturday,
August 16 and Sunday, August 17, at the Von Braun Convention Center in
Huntsville.

The 2014 GAREC conference will focus on the
application of advanced technologies in emergency and disaster response
communications. Experts will meet and discuss local, regional and global activities,
operations, lessons learned and explore better, new ways of coordination
and communications in times of emergency. All Amateur Radio operators and
professionals alike are invited to attend!

The 2007 GAREC
was held in Huntsville. Radio amateurs from all over the world attended
both the conference and the Huntsville Hamfest. Many bonds were formed and
communications on a regional and global level were discussed.

For speaker and presenter information, contact Hans Zimmermann,
F5VKP/HB9AQS, IARU International Coordinator for Emergency Communications. For
registration and all GAREC 2014 information, click here.

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ARRL Partners:
REACT is Not Just CB Radio

While REACT has been associated
primarily with Citizens Band in the past, the organization has widened its focus
to embrace amateur and other services. ARRL and REACT share common goals in
terms of emergency communication. The primary mission of REACT is “to
provide public safety communications to individuals, organizations, and
government agencies to save lives, prevent injuries, and give assistance wherever
and whenever needed.” The memorandum of understanding
calls on the two organizations to “cooperate and utilize their resources
from time to time to optimum mutual benefit to both parties.” Among specific
principles, the agreement involves cooperation during emergencies and
disaster relief and the elimination of “duplicative or technically inferior
service” during such responses. “The parties will generally encourage ongoing
liaison with each other and urge members of both organizations to develop
increasingly effective communications and cooperation,” the agreement
states.

REACT Training Course Offering

Parts of the REACT course are similar to the course developed for
Amateur Radio operators by the ARRL (EC-001 Introduction to Emergency
Communication); the REACT course includes material for radio operators in
other radio services. Both courses teach the same procedures for emergency
and public service communications. Radio operators who complete the program
from either organization will have demonstrated the knowledge and skills
needed to provide effective communications support to emergency service
agencies. The REACT program covers Amateur Radio, Citizens Band, the
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), the popular Family Radio Service (FRS), and
the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS). Download the REACT training course
from the REACT
website. – ARRL, REACT

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Letters: Ability to Operate
in a Net and Pass Messages are Critical Training

To follow up on the recent ARES E-Letter thread on training issues,
probably the most important training an operator can have for participation
in ARES would be informal and directed net procedures, the ability to
receive, send, and relay messages, the international phonetic alphabet and use
of plain language. Net Control stations need to know how to run an informal
net and a directed net. An operator who is unable to
fulfill these basic functions is a liability. They don’t need to know
the ICS or NIMS structure to do their job, but they have to know these basic
radio skills. — John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, Colorado Springs,
Colorado

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Amateur Radio Team Supports Half
Marathon as Prep for Boston Marathon

In what may be the
first public service event of 2014 in New England, a team of 16 Amateur
Radio volunteers endured near-freezing temperatures and a cold north wind to
support the Ashland Marathon Park Prep, a 13 mile half marathon race, on
March 16, 2014. Just one month before the Boston Marathon, nearly 700 runners
lined up at the original marathon starting line (changed in the early
1900’s to Hopkinton) for a brisk and challenging run.

Led
by David Wolfe, KG1H and Mark Richards, K1MGY, and under the auspices of the
Minuteman Repeater Association, Amateur Radio provided logistics
communications for route support, maintained liaison with and provided information
to the event managers, established and maintained a direct link with EMS,
and performed SAG and SWEEP functions along the entire route.

Several runners took advantage of the non-medical transport made
available through the generosity of hams. These SAG units consisted of a driver
and a navigator/assistant. While the assistant focused on location
awareness, the driver remained “heads-up” at all times along the sometimes-crowded
course.

SAG drivers were recruited based upon prior
experience. A set of reporting protocols for transport and a detailed event
log offered reasonable homage to any liability concerns.

Considerable planning for communications and SAG support resulted in an
unusually-large set of documents provided to each volunteer. A communications
plan, a detailed assignment document, supplementary resource material, plus
a 30 minute briefing the morning of the event, served to establish a
competent and safety-focused team and attempted to leave nothing to chance.
“Training and guidance material specific to serving as communications
volunteers at these types of public service opportunities are scant,” said Mark
Richards, K1MGY, whose planning documentation gave volunteers plenty of
reading. “This represents an ongoing attempt to build some resources and ideas
that may be useful to other organizers planning and managing events large and
small. I was impressed with the eagerness of our team to coalesce around
our primary duty to safety, and so were the event organizers. Well done by
all!” — Lyman Smith, W1LKS, North Billerica, Massachusetts

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Ohio ARES Group Supports St. Patrick’s Day Events

Nine operators supported the St. Patrick’s Day activities in
Toronto, Ohio, on March 15, 2014. These annual events include a Fun Run, a
5K Bicycle Ride and a 5K Run. Operators from the Jefferson County ARES
group as well as hams from the surrounding area worked together for the overall
success of the operation. Communications included service as “eyes and
ears” with operators reporting locations and numbers of the first male and
female runners in each group. All runners were advised to locate a radio
operator if there was a problem or injury. In addition to the operators along
the course, APRS tracking was also employed in the lead vehicle (a police
cruiser) and the SAG vehicle, an off road utility vehicle. The Net Control
station was setup in the EMS facility near the start/finish line area.

The APRS tracking receive station was established in the
Command Center Room with the NCS and race officials. APRS data was received
live and displayed on a projected map of the race area. This screen quickly
became a point of interest for many involved in managing the race. The
ability for officials to visualize the locations of the runners made it easier to
monitor the progress of the race.

Equipment used along
the course consisted of 2 Meter HTs or mobile rigs operating on 147.48 MHz
simplex. The simplex mode was chosen for several reasons: the terrain and
close proximity did not necessitate the use of a repeater, and it is always
good practice to use simplex as a viable means of communications should a
repeater go down.

Race officials were impressed with
communications functions and the APRS tracking. We were asked if we would
provide communications assistance for the upcoming July 4th
activities. Planning has already begun for a successful communications plan for
July. — Bob Carson, N8CUX, EC Jefferson County ARES, Ohio

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K1CE For a Final: Hospital Communications

Hospitals are currently facing budget cuts, and are reducing staff in
departments across organizations to a minimum. This environment will put
pressure on all aspects of healthcare delivery, including communications
resources and back-up systems. As such, hospitals, as with many other sectors
of emergency management and public services will turn more to volunteers
trained as almost paraprofessionals to perform needed services, and that
presents opportunities for us as ARES members and operators. Make it a point to
approach hospitals in your area with your service capabilities.

Operators should be familiar with their operating environments
and protocols. Hospitals are among the critical institutions in emergency and
disaster situations when victims are hurt, whether a crash on the
Interstate, or a mass casualty incident such as an earthquake, tornado, hurricane,
hazmat spill, or terrorist attack. The hospital can be involved in taking
in casualties from its own region, or from afar when the situation is so
large that it overwhelms the local healthcare systems’ ability to care for
them. (In the latter scenario, the government’s National Disaster Medical
System (NDMS) was designed to evacuate and airlift patients to distant medical
facilities, diffusing the caseload throughout the entire country if
necessary – Amateur Radio was involved in planning and exercises for NDMS back in
the mid-80s.)

Hospitals are organized by department:
the ER, ICU, OR, the medical/surgical floors, radiology (both interventional
and diagnostic), the pharmacy, and laboratories for chemistry, hematology,
pathology, and microbiology. All of these departments work closely together
to effect safe and efficient medical care of the patient, and they can’t
fulfill that function without fast, error-free accurate and effective
communications.

At the very heart of a hospital is the
critical need for communications between the bedside Registered Nurse and the
doctor, especially in departments such as the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). As a
critical-care certified RN, I have worked on the medical ICU at a 400-bed
public hospital for nine years, where communication must be clear and fast,
or patients may die. We rely on the telephone system, a voice/name
recognition paging/two-way system, and a good old fax machine. In recent months and
years, we have relied more on computer to computer communications for lab
results, reports, and medication and other orders. These systems have all
failed at some point, and in some cases we have relied on, believe it or
not, paper slips carried between departments and personnel by runners.

Recently, a California group, the Bishop Amateur Radio Club
(BARC), provided support to a statewide emergency medical exercise: The
Statewide Medical and Health Exercise Program, an effort to discover
capabilities and vulnerabilities among partners in the Public Health and Medical
Services Emergency Support Function #8 (ESF#8) of California. Exercise
participants included health departments, emergency medical service agencies, acute
care hospitals/facilities, community clinics, emergency management,
medical examiners/coroners, law enforcement, and fire services. Mammoth Lakes
police officer Paul Dostie, KK6BAF, reported that for last November’s exercise
a total communications breakdown was simulated (with outages of phone,
cellular, Internet, VHF and UHF repeater systems). BARC members set up HF
stations with NVIS antennas at the three hospitals in Inyo and Mono Counties,
and established solid communications among the three hospitals and the
Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency (ICEMA) in San Bernardino, California.
ICEMA has an HF station with a 40-meter beam antenna at Patton State
Hospital in San Bernardino. There are many examples of Amateur Radio use for
emergency back-up support for healthcare facilities.

Operating Tips

Information must be conveyed with 100%
accuracy, or patient safety is put at risk. Some protocols to follow as
communicators include: re-transmitting (reading) orders and labs back to confirm
accuracy. Confirm that you are talking about the correct patient. Orders for
medications especially must be confirmed by reading them back (RBO) as an
accuracy check. Medication errors are critical patient safety issues. One of
the 2014 Hospital National Patient Safety Goals promulgated by the Joint
Commission on accreditation of health care organizations is the following:
“Get important test results to the right staff person on time,” a major
communications issue. Lab results must be conveyed accurately as one that is
misstated can result in a wrong medication given, or blood transfusion being
unnecessarily given, or not given when the patient may actually need it.

Use error-correcting digital modes to further assure
accuracy: packet radio, for example. This mode also has the benefit of some
degree of privacy of communications since the public is less likely to have
packet radio equipment to eavesdrop. Also, in that regard, lower your power
output to the least level practicable, and choose lesser-used frequencies.

We’ll have more on hospital communications in future
issues. – K1CE

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