Emergency Coordination

                                                      Emergency Coordinator's Page                                                                     
(Previous articles can be found on the sub-pages at the bottom of this page)
Direct all questions about this page to kb5hpt@arrl.net

++++++ARES® Membership++++++

Qualifications for membership in El Paso County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (EPCARES) are as follows:

  1. Have the following credentials:

a.       ICS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System

b.      ICS-200 ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

c.       IS-700 NIMS, an Introduction

d.      IS-800 National Response Framework (NRF), an Introduction

e.       Intro to Emergency Communication (EC-001) http://www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog

Candidates should submit an ARES® Registration Form (fsd98) along with copies of the above certificates of completion. Send them to kb5hpt@arrl.net.

By submitting your application for membership in ARES® you have indicated the following:

  1. You have registered your qualifications and communications equipment for use in public service during a communications emergency.
  2. You can work in a controlled environment.
  3. You have a desire to make a contribution to your community.

++++++EPCARES Data Operators++++++

ARES® Digital Operators: Positions are available for ARES® Digital Operators within the El Paso County ARES® (EPCARES). Required stations are as follows:
                        a. Winlink 2000; VHF Packet Station capable of Winlink Express and Paclink
                        b. Winlink 2000; HF Station capable of WINMOR
                        c. Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS); VHF/HF Station

++++++ Amateur Radio Communications Teams (ARCT) ++++++

ARCT Type 2 (2 each for American Red Cross & 2 each for Salvation Army)

4 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Team leader (General class or higher). Capable of VHF/UHF & HF digital/voice communications for tactical, logistics, health/welfare, administrative, and other radio traffic.

ARCT Type 3 (Multiple)

4 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Team Leader (Technician class or higher). Capable of VHF/UHF digital/voice communications for tactical, logistics, health/welfare, administrative, and other radio traffic.

ARCT Type 4 (Multiple)

For assignment to agency or supplemental/relieve an existing multi-agency ARCT. 2 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operators with two vehicles. Technician class or higher. Capable of VHF FM (minimum) equipped. HF desired (General class or higher required).

ARCT Type 5 (Multiple)

For assignment to agency or supplemental/relieve an existing multi-agency ARCT. 1 licensed and registered Amateur Radio Operator with a vehicle. Rarely ordered singly. 1 VHF FM (Minimum) with vehicle (Technician class or higher).

March 2018

DEC Bulletin

When disaster strikes a community, specific emergency management and disaster relief organizations respond to a pre-established emergency operations plan. Each of these designated organizations has a specific role to play in ensuring an effective response to and recovery from the disaster’s devastation. One element within the present system continues to pose a challenge: spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers.

Spontaneous, volunteers walk in, call in, drive or fly from other jurisdictions, and have even come from other countries when high profile disasters occur. But because they are not associated with any part of the existing emergency management response system, their offers to help are often underutilized and even problematic to professional responders. The situation here is clear: people’s willingness to volunteer versus the system’s capacity to utilize them effectively.

The events of September 11, 2001 dramatically illustrated the need for better planning in this area, and the issue of unaffiliated volunteers began to receive increased attention. On September 11, 2001 over 4000 spontaneous volunteers showed up at ground zero ready to assist. There was no plan in place as to how to cope with all these volunteers. In the Mexico City earthquake 800 lives were save by impressed volunteers. The sad story here was that 100 of these volunteers lost their lives needlessly because they were not properly trained to cope with disasters.

Given the limited resources available at the federal, state, and local levels, the successful integration of citizen involvement in an emergency management setting is imperative to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of disasters in our communities. While this may be a challenging goal, the priority and long-term value of this work cannot be denied.

Local government is often the first point of contact for volunteers who want to help after an emergency. Volunteers often congregate at city halls, fire stations, incident sites and any other place where they believe there may be opportunities to volunteer. While well intentioned, these volunteers can often hinder the efforts of first responders. Local government typically bears primary responsibility for responding to local citizens seeking volunteer opportunities.

The benefits to having a Spontaneous Volunteer Management Plan are:

   Logistic. Spontaneous volunteers will come, whether you have planned for them or not, so planning is to everyone’s advantage. Organizations responding to the disaster need people with skills or experience to help meet their commitments to the community. With an effective intake and referral process in place, people who want to help will have somewhere to go, their skills will become a resource rather than a missed opportunity and agencies will get help in serving the community.

   Public Perception. Well-managed volunteers contribute to the positive public perception of an agency’s response and recovery efforts. In past disasters, where there was no system for incorporating spontaneous volunteers in relief efforts, disgruntled volunteers and bad press have resulted. Effective planning increases the positive and effective deployment of spontaneous volunteers.

El Paso County ARES (EPCARES) as well as the rest of the Part 97 groups in El Paso County also share this problem. We do not have enough affiliated volunteers in our ranks with the proper training to sustain any kind of long-term operation. Therefore, we must plan to cope with the spontaneous, unaffiliated amateur volunteers that will respond to our Resource Nets.

EPCARES has an annex in its Standing Operating Procedure concerning Spontaneous Volunteer Management. This plan provides an adaptable framework that enables utilization of local resources and partnering with other local groups. To maintain accountability for Emergency Management, EPCARES will establish an Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC) for EMCOMM operators. Volunteers will process in and receive an updated situation briefing while at the EVC. We will have to provide some expedient training for these volunteers to bring them up to standards. Credentialing is an issue. While we cannot resolve this issue in the EVC. Those with credentials will be checked prior to deployment. Individual groups or organizations should take care of their own member’s credentials. That way volunteers being processed for other groups or organizations can pass through quickly. Agencies will not permit anyone without proper credentials on property.

Act now. Pre-registering will solve these problems. Pre-registering with EPCARES takes one out of this spontaneous, unaffiliated category, and helps the group become a well-organized team that can accomplish their mission in a professional manor.

Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged regarding the content of this article. Send an email to the email address shown below.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
DEC, District 6 – Far West Texas
email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

February 2018
EC Bulletin

When I talk to people about the Winlink 2000 (WL2K) system I keep getting the same comments “Winlink 2000 uses the Internet, and in a disaster, you are going to lose the Internet.” Well…I’m not going to dispute the fact that in a disaster situation in some parts of the county there may be a period when we could experience Internet outages or sporadic outages for short periods of time. If that were true and it was county wide that would not be a problem for WL2K. It’s designed and deployed to bridge the communities last mile. The last mile is defined as the path across an area where conventional communications have been disrupted or overloaded by an incident. WL2K was tried and tested under fire during hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Tsunamis of 2004, 2007, as well Haiti to mention a just a few disasters. It performed to its specifications admirably.

Let’s go with the worst-case scenario and say that the Internet outage was county wide. Winlink Express, Packink and now ARDOP (Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol) stations (UHF/VHF) can be strategically deployed with a served agency. Their job is to bridge the last mile and communicate with a Radio Message Server (RMS) running the supplemental program RMS Relay. RMS Relay will let the local stations continue to pass messages back and forth within the county where there are no Internet services and globally via HF. The HF stations operating Pactor I, II or III, or WINMOR can connect to another WL2K RMS that does have an Internet connection or can connect to a Common Message Server (CMS). The CMS site resides in the cloud. It provides a portal into the WL2K system for exchanging Internet email with WL2K users, hold all messages to and from all users, interface with RMS channel programs, telnet services, and provide message management services.

The whole idea is to keep the users and network entirely connected even though an area becomes isolated due to an Internet failure. The WL2K addressing would remain functional and anyone that can reach any functional HF or VHF/UHF port can exchange messages with anyone else anywhere in the system without thought about how it is routed.

An all HF system, no matter how it is implemented, will have bandwidth and latency limitations that constrain its value. Served agencies need (and expect) a communications service that will be able to handle a reasonable volume of complex traffic with good speed. The WL2K system will provide a service that will give them the best and fastest means available at any given time.

The mission of WL2K is to provide effective last resort communications in civil emergencies and personal communications in non-emergency conditions, through a volunteer network.

El Paso County ARES® has a full complement of WL2K with two RMS sites running RMS Relay 24/7 for the past 11 years. We have WINMOR HF and Winlink Express/Paclink/ARDOP UHF/VHF capabilities. We have just added two PiGate stations for providing shelter occupants an opportunity to send emergency email to family and friends after a disaster has occurred. They will connect the PiGates using the WiFi capabilities of the Raspberry Pi. We have added a PiGate RMS that can be deployed to a location where Internet connectivity can be made in a situation where the PiGates cannot reach either of the other two RMS station.

Other News

Latest changes coming out from the ARRL with the announcement of “Changes coming out for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service” are starting to happen. Refer to my article in last months EC Bulletin for the announcement.

One change pertaining to the West Texas Section directed by the Section Manager and the Section Emergency Coordinator was that District 5 of the West Texas Section be divided in to two districts. District 6 has been added to the section and covers El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson counties. It is designated as “District 6 - Far West Texas” I will be serving as the District Emergency Coordinator. I will also retain my El Paso County Emergency Coordinator credentials.

The first change from ARRL that has been implemented is the unique identifier number. This number will identify our district over any other District 6 in the country. I have filed the registration form and we are currently waiting on our number to be returned.

Questions and comments pertaining to this article are welcome and encouraged. Send an email to the address shown below.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
DEC Region 6
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net

 Previous articles can be found on the subpages links towards the bottom of this page.

The terms Amateur Radio Emergency Service and ARES are both registered trademarks of the 
American Radio Relay League Inc. and are used by permission.  

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT  
DEC District 6 - Far West Texas
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net  
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:16 PM
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Jan 30, 2017, 10:09 AM
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Jun 8, 2013, 7:34 AM
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Jul 27, 2017, 1:04 PM
Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:18 PM
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