Western PA ARES to Host Emergency Communications Conference

Western Pennsylvania ARES will host an emergency communications conference June 14, 2014 from 9AM-5PM at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown campus. The conference is free and is open to all amateur radio operators including those outside the Western PA ARRL Section.

Hams who wish to attend should please register at http://wpaares.org. Even though there is no cost to attend, we’d like to have an estimate of the headcount.

Inexpensive lunches will be available for purchase. For those traveling from a great distance, a limited number of dorm rooms are available. Please contact Harry W3YJ (w3yj@arrl.net) for more info about reserving a room.

A full day of training, education, and fun is planned. The tentative sessions are as follows:
• Introduction to D-STAR and D-RATS.
• Getting Started with high-speed Broadband Hamnet (BBHN) networking
• Essential NIMS Forms
• The Role of the ARES Public Information Officer (PIO)
• Lawrence County ARES Reorganization – would it work in your county?
• Amateur Radio at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
• Hands-on workshops on D-STAR, D-RATS, and BBHN.
• County Emergency Coordinator (EC) training and discussion
• Panel discussion on the roles of ARES, PEMA, and Region 13. Panelists include:
o John Rodgers N3MSE, Western PA ARRL Section Manager
o Susan Singer KB3KDC, PEMA ACS Coordinator
o Dr. Sam Sarraf KE3PO, Region 13 Amateur Radio Liaison Officer
o Harry Bloomberg W3YJ, Western PA ARES Section Emergency Coordinator

Please go to the website of Western PA ARES (http://wpaares.org) for a map, updates, and registration information.

Western PA ARES would like to thank the following
• University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown
• Cambria Radio Club
• American Radio Relay League

Please contact Western PA ARES Section Emergency Coordinator Harry Bloomberg W3YJ via email at w3yj@arrl.net for more information.

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ARES SET Drill – Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013

Hello Fellow Amateurs!

On Saturday, October 5, the ARRL will be holding it’s annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) drill from 9am-noon. From the ARRL website –  The ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is a nationwide exercise in emergency communications, administered by ARRL Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers. Both ARES and the National Traffic System (NTS) are involved. The SET weekend gives communicators the opportunity to focus on the emergency communications capability within their community while interacting with NTS nets.
Our county-wide scenario will be that a large tornado has moved through the county. It has disrupted communications and has caused widespread injuries throughout the county.
Our Section Emergency Coordinator, Harry Bloomberg, W3YJ has set some specific guidelines for each county and we are going to follow those to the best of our ability. We will need to have at least one operator and possibly two at each hospital in the county to man the 2 meter station at each facility. We will test our ability to pass traffic to one another utilizing the W3LIF repeater and simplex. We will also have the EMA station on the air as well and most net control will probably take place at that location.
I anticipate a “call-out” over the air via the 145.35 W3LIF repeater system on Saturday morning. This would be just as we would have it in a real situation. We will first set up a SKYWARN net and begin taking simulated damage reports. Through these reports, it will become apparent that a large tornado has affected much of the county. Shortly thereafter, we will be asked by the Red Cross to send operators to each of the shelters that they  are going to be setting up at local high schools. We will need operators to go to each of those locations.
Hospitals will be sending simulated health and welfare traffic to net control to indicate how many patients have arrived, etc. We will also send simulated health and welfare traffic between net control and the Red Cross shelters at the high schools.
It is likely that we will need to use 2 different repeaters and there may even be a surprise thrown in – hint – just be prepared to operate simplex if needed!
A reminder – There are many, many folks who listen to us on the air. There may also be many folks around during the SET drill observing what we are doing. We must act and conduct ourselves professionally at all times. In a real emergency, our served agencies will be looking to us to help and if they don’t think that we can handle the job in a professional and efficient manner, they will not ask for it in the future. Remember, our job is to serve and help them.
One final point that I’d like to emphasize – If you can, please get out to these locations and operate portable as closely as you would in a real situation. Obviously, this is a simulation, but if you are asked to go to a Red Cross shelter or some other location, please try to be available to actually do that as it will be a better test of our actual preparedness. It is not likely that you will be able to get into the schools and actually set up a portable station, but getting to the parking lot and operating mobile or portable (even better) will give us a good idea of how well our equipment works in those situations. Why not test out how well your handheld will do? It may be all you have in an emergency!
So please plan ahead! Make sure your batteries are charged and you have backups. Get your “go-kit” together and prepare! I’m looking forward to a great drill!
If you plan to participate (or if you have any questions), please email me at w3sax@arrl.net so that I can plan accordingly!
For more information and tips, check out http://www.arrl.org/ares. Hope to hear you on Oct. 5!