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Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES E-Letter Archive
ARES® Supports 60,000 Runners in Atlanta for Peachtree
LZ Drill in Washington State: Joint Emergency
Exercises Work on a Small Scale
Anatomy of a CERT: East Lake (West Central Florida)
Letters: An Emergency Paging Method
Letters: Georgia County Interfaces with Emergency
Management via Planning Committee
Letters: San Diego Winlink Net Marks Five
ARRL Staff Developing Patch Display at HQ; Send in
your Group’s Patch!
Connecticut ARES Region Conducts Simplex
Georgia Group to Conduct 9/11 Memorial Special
Remembering Hurricane Katrina Ten Years Ago This
ARES® Briefs, Links
Katrina 10th Anniversary Mississippi
Memorial Event Set (8/10/2015); Amateur Radio Volunteers Support Michigan’s Premier Bicycle Tour
(7/22/2015). September is National Preparedness Month. This year FEMA is asking you to take
action now – make a plan with your community, your family, and for your pets. Plan
how to stay safe and communicate during the disasters
that can affect your community. FEMA asks everyone to participate in
America’s PrepareAthon! and the national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, which
culminates National Preparedness Month on September 30.
ARES® Supports 60,000 Runners in Atlanta for Peachtree Road Race
For the last 45 years, Atlantans have celebrated
Independence Day in the United States in unique fashion: by closing one of the City’s
busiest thoroughfares and allowing 60,000 runners, supported by 5000
volunteers, including over 50 Amateur Radio volunteers, and nearly 200,000
spectators for the Peachtree Road Race, sponsored by the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Track Club.
Radio response is coordinated by Race Committee Members David Ziskind, KE4QLH,
and Chris Balch, KS4MM (ARRL Volunteer Counsel and AEC for Atlanta ARES).
Operators come from ARES groups and Amateur Radio clubs all over the
metropolitan Atlanta area.
Working closely with the Atlanta
Fulton County Emergency Management Agency (AFCEMA), Atlanta Police and Fire
Departments, as well as numerous federal and state law enforcement and
public safety agencies, the Amateur Radio contingent provides crucial on course
intelligence and safety reports for injured runners, race conditions, and
even the occasional suspicious package. Learning from the experience of
colleagues in Boston, net control operations for the race are located at
AFCEMA’s underground Emergency Operations Center. AFCEMA Director Matthew
Kallmayer has worked closely with Atlanta ARES EC Ken Reid, KG4USN, to stock the
EOC with 3 dual band radios (2 Kenwood V71s and an ICOM IC-2820).
Accordingly, we were able to run and respond to 3 different nets (as well as a
D-STAR link to the Atlanta Police Headquarters) providing coordination among
public safety, Atlanta Track Club organizers, and media outlets. Race
communications benefited from the loaned repeaters of the Atlanta Radio Club, the
Metropolitan Atlanta Telephone Pioneers Amateur Radio Club, and the Georgia
Tech Amateur Radio Club.
This year provided a
particularly challenging environment as July 4 saw Atlanta hit by a long line of
severe and dangerous thunderstorms just as the race got underway. As the
storms intensified, Track Club officials made the decision to hold the last half
of the runners (half the field was already on the course) and move those
waiting to start indoors for safety. After a 30-minute delay, 25,000 race
participants emerged into the rainy late morning and completed their annual
jog down Peachtree Street. – Chris Balch, KS4MM, AEC Atlanta ARES
LZ Drill in Washington State: Joint Emergency Exercises Work
on a Small Scale
One hour before the Airlift
Northwest medical helicopter was due to arrive, the rain was coming down so
hard, cars were pulling off the streets because wipers couldn’t clear their
windshields. The wind was gusting and heavy thunder shook the area. Yet, by
6:30 PM, the storm had cleared for the most part, and the training exercise
Authority, Centralia (Washington) ARES, Lewis County 911 center and Airlift
Northwest had planned this joint exercise for weeks. Several years earlier,
Centralia ARES established eleven emergency helicopter landing zones (LZ)
around the community of 16,000 located in southwest Washington State. The local
hospital had been the only designated landing spot for medical
helicopters, but the community is divided by two large rivers and Interstate 5. Any
large earthquake would likely collapse all or most of the overpasses and
bridges creating small pockets within the city that would be difficult to reach
by normal disaster response services.
landing zone project began by locating open fields, school yards and vacant
lots that could be used as alternate landing zones. Level landing zones of
at least 100′ x 100′ were needed. The fields could be grass, packed dirt, a
roadway or even snow. Identifiable structures such as water towers needed
to be marked. High tension lines, trees, fences, light poles and other
hazards had to be assessed. Each year, the Centralia ARES team checks each
landing zone to be sure it still meets requirements.
landing zones were in place but had never been needed nor had a helicopter
ever landed on any of them – until now. The joint exercise began to take form
when we asked Riverside Fire Authority Chief Mike Kytta if he thought we
could get Airlift Northwest, the local medical helicopter service located 25
miles to the north of Olympia, to fly in as a practice drill.
Coincidentally, Riverside Fire was planning an exercise for their volunteers that could
easily be turned into a request for a medical aircraft response. A quick
e-mail to Airlift Northwest brought the response “We can make that happen.”
The joint exercise was set for a month later.
Excitement was in the air at the next ARES meeting as the exercise was discussed.
The team retrained on how to set up a landing zone, helicopter landing
procedures and LZ safety. While Chief Kytta would be the overall Incident
Commander, the ARES team designated a communications supervisor, landing zone
supervisor, aircraft communicator and safety officers. Remaining volunteers
were assigned positions around the perimeter of the landing zone as this would
be in a residential area and the landing of a helicopter was sure to
attract spectators. Chief Kytta asked that ARES members provide notification to
those homeowners living around the landing zone, and a simple flyer was
created for distribution accordingly.
The Centralia Street
Department agreed to provide barricades to block off an adjacent street so
we would have adequate parking for emergency vehicles. They also provided
orange traffic cones to help identify the 100′ x 100′ landing area from the
air. Since it was possible that a delay might mean a night landing, ARES
also purchased traffic flares and chemical lights just in case.
Also, the Centralia ARES group had just completed a one year
project of creating an ARES communications vehicle and this event would be the
first real test of its equipment. During its last training meeting before the
exercise, the team went over safety procedures again, established where
team members would park the communications vehicle, the fire department aid
truck and a fire engine and marked the 100′ x 100′ landing zone. A simplex
frequency was designated for all landing zone personnel. The team felt ready
to make the exercise a success, but hadn’t thought about the weather.
On the day of the
event and in the middle of the storm, a text message to Fire Chief Kytta
brought back the reply that they were ready to go if the weather permitted. As
the storm passed, Riverside Fire Authority began their part of the
exercise. Fire Department volunteers were dispatched to a simulated vehicle
accident where the people in the car had been ejected from the vehicle. Fire
Department personnel arrived on scene and began a search of the wooded area for
victims. In this simulation, they were to locate four victims. One had
minor injuries, two were “walking wounded,” and one was in critical condition
and would, as planned, need airlift out by medical helicopter to a trauma
As the drill progressed, Centralia ARES began
setting up the landing zone and prepared to communicate with both the fire
personnel and the aircraft. Riverside Fire and crews located their “victims”
and began transporting them towards the landing zone after requesting the
local 911 center call for a medical helicopter.
the ARES communications vehicle, team members took updated information on the
patient’s condition from the aid crew in the field. It is approximately a
10 minute flight from the Olympia airport to the landing
KB7PI, waits to meet Airlift Northwest flight nurse. (photo courtesy
zone and it was timed to
have the fire department aid vehicle arrive at the landing zone a few minutes
before the helicopter. As the fire truck and aid vehicle arrived and
parked, ARES members could hear the aircraft approaching in the distance.
When the Airlift Northwest helicopter was in sight, the ARES
aircraft communicator made contact and provided updated landing zone
information that included wind direction, identifiable landmarks, landing zone
coordinates and known hazards to the aircraft. In moments, the aircraft was
circling the field and settling down to a safe landing.
Everyone waited as the helicopter shut down and the flight nurse got out
and approached the fire department aid crew. They simulated patient transfer
procedures and then everyone was allowed to approach the helicopter to get
a closer look. The flight nurse briefed the ARES team about the equipment
on board, demonstrated how to load a patient and discussed patient
preparation with the fire department crews. The pilot spoke to the team about the
helicopter and outlined what he needed for an emergency landing zone to
safely land the aircraft. Thirty minutes later, the ARES team cleared the
landing zone and directed the helicopter back into the air.
What began as a simple training exercise to
establish potential helicopter landing zones for the community turned into
an opportunity to work with a served agency, Riverside Fire Authority, and
to test ARES equipment and procedures for landing an actual helicopter. The
Airlift Northwest crew was generous with their time and equipment. Chief
Kytta and his fire department training staff were tremendously helpful in
setting up this valuable exercise.
You don’t have to have
all the answers when planning interesting training, you just need to start
asking for help. Training opportunities are everywhere if you are willing
to ask, even for smaller ARES teams. – Bob Willey, KD7OWN, Centralia
(Washington State) ARES Emergency Coordinator [Willey is a retired
Operations Commander with the Centralia Police Department and has been an Amateur
Radio operator since 2001. The Centralia ARES team was formed as a result of
the devastating 2007 floods that covered the area and completely cut
Interstate 5 for several days.]
Anatomy of a CERT:
East Lake (West Central Florida) CERT
month’s issue, an article “Critical Partnership: CERT Joins with Amateur Radio
Club for Field Day in West Central Florida,” touched on the synergistic
relationship between a CERT group and large Amateur Radio club. This month,
we’ll explore this relationship more fully, a whole that seems more than the
sum of its parts – ed.]
East Lake CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) in Palm Harbor, Florida is very
active in Amateur Radio in the north end of Pinellas County. [Pinellas county
lies to the east of Tampa with a population of about one million on the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Clearwater is the county seat, and St.
Petersburg is its largest city.] Combining forces with the Upper Pinellas Amateur
Radio Club (UPARC) results in a pool of nearly 70 licensed amateurs with
training that goes beyond traditional ARES training. ARES trains us to be
communicators using a variety of frequencies and modes in emergencies. A
CERT educates ordinary citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that
may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills,
such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster
medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during
exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or
workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately
available to help.
One aspect of this training is
communications. Many CERT teams use basic Family Radio Service (FRS) radios for
this. We have found that FRS is not always reliable for this purpose. East Lake
CERT realized the shortfalls of FRS and began to recruit and train Amateur
Radio operators to be their communicators through Technician and General
licensing classes, mentoring and word of mouth.
History of CERT
The first CERT was born in California
out of a need of support for first responders following catastrophic
earthquakes. The program was intended to fill the gap between what first responders
were capable of providing and the needs of the community immediately
following these events.
The training units were developed
using lessons learned from actual events. The most immediate needs were
prioritized and combined with preparedness objectives to present a well-rounded
and inclusive program that would enable volunteers to prepare, plan and
respond in the safest and most efficient way.
1985, a group of Los Angeles City officials went to Japan to study its
extensive earthquake preparedness plans. The group encountered a society that
had taken extensive steps to train entire neighborhoods in one aspect of
alleviating the potential devastation that would follow a major earthquake.
These single-function neighborhood teams were trained in fire suppression,
light search and rescue operations, first aid, or evacuation.
In 1986, the City of Los Angeles Fire Department developed a pilot
program to train a group of leaders in a neighborhood watch organization. A
concept developed involving multi-functional volunteer response teams with
the ability to perform basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, and
first aid. This first team of 30 people completed training in early 1986
and proved that the concept was viable through various drills,
demonstrations, and exercises. Expansion of the program, however, was not feasible due to
limited City resources, until an event occurred in 1987 that impacted the
On October 1, 1987, the Whittier Narrows
earthquake vividly underscored the threat of an area-wide major disaster,
and demonstrated the need to expedite the training of civilians to prepare
for earthquakes and other emergencies. Following the Whittier Narrows
earthquake, the City of Los Angeles took an aggressive role in protecting the
citizens of Los Angeles by creating the Disaster Preparedness Section within
the Los Angeles Fire Department. Their objectives included:
• Educate and train the public and government sectors in
• Research, evaluate, and
disseminate disaster information
• Develop, train,
and maintain a network of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).
In 1993, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
decided to make the concept and program available to communities nationwide. The
Emergency Management Institute (EMI), in cooperation with the LAFD,
expanded the CERT materials to make them applicable to all hazards.
In January 2002, CERT became part of the Citizen Corps, a unifying
structure to link a variety of related volunteer activities to expand a
community’s resources for crime prevention and emergency response.
As of November 2011, 50 states, three territories and six foreign
countries were using the CERT training.
East Lake CERT
East Lake CERT was established in 2005 by Mark
Weinkrantz and District Chief Mark Teolis. The first class was trained by
Lealman CERT. Not all teams are able to sustain the interest of their
members, are not able to recruit new members, or have the funds to progress. In
this regard, East Lake CERT has been very fortunate to have been able to
expand their membership as well as focus on one of the most valuable assets
following a disastrous event: communications. East Lake CERT has 30 licensed
amateurs. They train weekly with a net held on UPARC’s VHF repeater.
Communicators also train with the entire CERT team in several
drills throughout the year. In June, East Lake CERT activated its own UHF
repeater with the call W4ELC. East Lake CERT has partnered with UPARC’s 40
members to provide CERT training to UPARC members and UPARC has welcomed
the CERT communicators to use the W4AFC repeater.
Lake CERT Moves Forward into Future
Where do we go from
here? What does the future hold? East Lake CERT has been working closely
with fire departments in North Pinellas County municipalities to initiate
training of Fire Department personnel to be Amateur Radio operators, position
radio equipment in each station and train personnel on the use of the
radios. The goal is to provide a backbone of emergency communications through
Amateur Radio that can be activated in an emergency in North Pinellas County.
That network could then interface with Pinellas County’s EOC, or support
local, neighborhood operations. East Lake CERT is about to open
communications with Tarpon Springs, Florida and Sunstar (an ambulance company) to
include them in the network.
UPARC and East Lake CERT have come together to form an alliance and
partnership for the good of our local communities. A CERT trained Amateur Radio
communicator is someone you want around when disaster strikes. An Amateur
Radio network among Fire Districts could be the lifeline that supports our CERT
teams in whatever tasks they are called upon to perform. East Lake CERT
has focused on helping members become licensed operators and in the
establishment of a North County emergency communications system. Having CERT trained
volunteers and radio operators in every community is our goal in order to
live up to our mission statement: “The Greatest Good For The Greatest
Number.” – Contributing authors: Kevin Poorman, KV4CT, East Lake CERT; David
Moore, KK4DLX, East Lake CERT; Barb Conciatori, KI4VOV, East Lake CERT; and
Andy Miller, KJ4FEC, Upper Pinellas Amateur Radio Club
Letters: An Emergency Paging Method
situation arise where radio operators need to be notified of an impending
emergency/disaster or requested to assist with an occurring incident, a page
can be sent out using the cellular phone grid and the Internet. There are
several different types of emergency paging systems and I have tried almost
all of them. Currently, our local government uses this method and it is
effective and easy.
“But wait! If there is a disaster,
those phones/Internet may not work!”
Most warnings such as
a tornado watch/warning or severe storm warning are broadcasted far in
advance of the onset of hazardous conditions. At this point, many hams are
monitoring frequencies and listening for news. Local incidents that occur
without advanced warning such as a nuclear power plant evacuation or aircraft
down are likely the ones where a quick call up is needed, but even these
events do not necessarily take out the entire phone/Internet system.
“I don’t have a phone or I do not want to receive texts.”
Test messages could be limited to just once a week. These
tests are to make sure you are receiving the sent texts. There are few
individuals today without a mobile phone at their disposal. Any phone that can
receive texts can be used to receive the page.
When a page
is sent it will likely tell you where to tune to get information such as
“tune to 7200 kHz LSB or 145.450 MHz FM.” That would alert operators to tune
in and get the details they need for responding.
Does It Work?
A text message is sent to your phone’s
e-mail address, which consists of your phone number followed by the provider’s
“@ domain.com”. Most
carriers charge for this. The fee is usually small and worth it if you
receive an alert. It is only free when you have signed up to receive text
messaging through your phone carrier.
These are the phone
e-mail addresses. Just substitute/insert your cell phone number and send
yourself a test message.
Common U.S. Carriers:
“Who would send out the pages?”
The EMA Director, for example, could send out a page and
contact all operators with just one e-mail. Most operators carry their phone
with them. This system is simple to use and a great way to advise the radio
community of anything that might be of importance. — Steve Bellner,
W8TER, Maumee, Ohio
[I tried it and it works well.