Emergency Coordination

                                                      Emergency Coordinator's Page                                                                     
                       
                                            
       
(Previous articles can be found on the sub-pages at the bottom of this page)

++++++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).



August 2017

EC Bulletin

This month I want to continue with the Monsoon Season trend of thought and talk about Pre-Activation. What will you need/should do prior to an actual SKYWARN® Activation. There is more to spotting than just responding to an activation. SKYWARN® Spotters must be prepared for activation. There is a plan (SOP) in place for SKYWARN® Spotters in the El Paso area. Without a plan, any unprepared response to activation would certainly wind up being a disaster and an embarrassment.

If you haven’t already done so read the July 2017 EC Bulletin below.

There are some things that should become a daily routine. One thing is that visiting the NWS website and look at the seven-day forecasts. I might point out that long range forecasts are not set in stone. The further out they are the more unpredictable they could be. Changes will happen. At any rate, an idea of what to expect can be made. Will there be a possibility of an activation in the coming days?

The next item to check is the Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO). This is more specific and more up to date forecasting. At the bottom of the report a Spotter Activation Statement is given. Pay attention to this statement. I am currently posting the Daily Spotter Activation Statement on the Announcement page in this website. There isn’t a given time that the report must be put out so be sure to check back frequently to get today's statement.

Another tool is to look at the Storm Prediction Centers website http://www.spc.noaa.gov/. There are many different tools available on this website that could be beneficial to getting a better idea of the short-term predications.

Is the Go-Bag ready and loaded? This is an item that I discussed last month. Have the last-minute items been put in the bag? It would be a good idea to make a check list of items that should be in the Go-Bag. When the bag is loaded in the vehicle don’t put it in the trunk. It needs to be where it can be reached without getting out of the vehicle. Batteries, batteries, batteries. I also talked about these last month, but it is important to remind everyone to take stock of the different types and number of spare batteries that will be needed. Make sure they are charged, loaded and ready to go. I have put a couple of pages of ideas of what should go into a Go-Bag at the bottom of this page. The Disaster Supply Kit and Last-Minute Disaster Supply Kit Items. Just remember that the bags are geared mainly for weather spotting. Paperwork is in everything that we do. Make a log and keep copies of reports called in to the NCS/NWS in case something comes into question later.

Next is the vehicle that is going to be used. I discussed this one last month to a certain extent. Is it ready for deployment? Has the fuel tank been topped off? Is the vehicle maintenance up to date? Are the windshield wipers and tires in good shape? Has the Go-Bag been checked and loaded? Is it complete? It would be a good idea to create a To-Do-List so the everything can be listed and then checked off. That way nothing gets overlooked or forgotten.

Now a little bit about the nets. I have posted a copy of the SKYWARN® Weather Spotter.pdf at the bottom of this page. This is a copy of our SOP. When the National Weather Service (NWS) issues an Advisory that severe weather is imminent spotters should start making plans for activation. In other words, start charging batteries. Start listening to the radio, but otherwise continue with the daily routine. It’s business as usual. When a Warning is issued we will convene a SKYWARN® Net on the Amigo Link frequencies. Continue to make ready for deployment. Load equipment. When a Watch is issued a deployment could be imminent. Be ready for deployment orders. If the WX5ELP station is going to be activated at the NWS we will usually have plenty of notice from the NWS. I will send out emails giving everyone advanced warning that WX5ELP is going to be on the air. I will also put out QST’s on the Amigo Link advising of the activation. If you are a trained SKYWARN® Spotter and are not on my email list send an email to kb5hpt@arrl.net and I will add you to the list.

Being a SKYWARN® Spotter is not a job that is taken lightly. This is not part of the hobby amateur radio. It’s the service part of amateur radio which gives it a completely different meaning. Submitting accurate reports is why we take the spotter training. Accurate reporting is what makes radio amateurs an asset in the reporting system. The NWS is responsible for saving lives and property. They depend on the spotters to give them accurate reports so that they can make the correct decisions. Knowingly submitting a false report to the NWS is in violation of the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996 (18 USC §1001). It carries a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

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

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
ARRL Emergency Coordinator – El Paso, County
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net





July 2017

EC Bulletin

Monsoon Season just started so I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about some of the things weather spotters should do and have in their possession while out spotting storms.

Safety is of course first and foremost in weather spotting. Always pick a vantage point where you are not in the path of the storm. Keep a safe distance from the storm. Have a map of the area available to be able to determine the best escape route in case the storm changes course. The best vantage point is on the right rear flank of the storm. From this vantage point the spotter can see what is coming behind the current storm. Form a team of two people. One is the driver and concentrates only on driving and the road conditions. The other person is the navigator, spotter and radio operator. The radio operator should always be in contact with the net control station if a net is in progress. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to have a fixed station on frequency that is aware you are in the field and near the storm. The net control station or fixed station should also have a radar image available, and can warn the mobile spotters in the field of possible storms coming up behind them.

Our station out at the El Paso NWS can handle HF, UHF/VHF FM or UHF/VHF Digital (D-Star) reports. The D-Star mode brings some capabilities that are unique to the nets. We can use the same radio to run D-RATS to send/receive low speed data spotter report forms and attach photos to the form. D-Star also has its own form of APRS called D-PRS so we can follow the spotters in the field on the Internet. A word of advice when using D-PRS set the radio to beacon position information only when the PTT is depressed. As net control operators at the NWS we are only interested in the position you are in while on site. We will see the bread crumb droppings as you key the radio and report while in route. We can determine your path and have your back. D-Star does not necessarily have to have the Internet present. It also works great simplex or over a local D-Star repeater. However, D-Star can be used to quickly setup a wide-area network with the use of the Internet and reflectors. This would be especially effective in situations such as tornados where getting reports back to the state capital would be important. Have navigational aids such as a Magellan or Garmin GPS unit for the vehicle, and an up to date regular paper map as a backup is a good idea. City and county maps will assist in finding escape routes. Topographical maps provide contour lines and elevation that can assist in determining a suitable location to spot from. Google Earth and Open Street maps are current maps for the laptops. D-RATS has a map which is provided by Open Street Maps. Cell phones for text messaging and have a Twitter account is also a good idea for notifying directly to the NWS. Seeing as how the NWS is using social media now. Cell phones can keep spotters aware of the latest watches and warnings put out by the NWS. Having an app on the phone such as Weather Bug will also give the spotter a radar image to look at to determine what is coming behind the current storm. It can also tell the spotter what towns or cities might be in its path. The cell phone can also double as a still photo camera or can be used as a video camera. Pictures speak a thousand words as they say. Having a handheld anemometer will come in real handy for taking wind speed readings. The handheld units also provide much more information as well. Plus, some of them will upload the data to a laptop now, and sending this information as an attachment using D-RATS to the NWS would be useful as well. Tell D-RATS that an external GPS receiver is attached eliminates the guess work as to exactly where you really are. It will read the coordinates from the GPS and insert them in the report form for you. Another good tool to have in the toolbox is a good strong pair of binoculars. They will help in viewing the cloud rotation or a better look at other parts of the cloud.

Go-Kits…just the same as in EMCOMM weather spotters should have a go-kit that is taken every time a spotter goes mobile. Plan from a few hours up to a few days just in case. This go-kit is especially built for storm spotting. I would recommend looking at the ARRL Operating Manual in the Emergency Communication Chapter for a list on items to have in the Go-Kit but, tailor it for storm spotting. I have mentioned a lot of the equipment that would be found in the go-kit above. But, just as with EMCOMM there should be personal items, medications, blankets, water, first aid kits, items for the vehicle, spare batteries, flashlight and a copy of the Basic and/or Advanced Spotters Guide. Keep the vehicle ready for emergencies. Have a set of jumper cables and a shovel on board. If a handheld radio is taken have spare dry cell batteries on hand. Purchase the dry cell battery pack for the radio. When the rechargeable batteries go dead in the field there isn’t anywhere to recharge them.

Keep reading. Next month we will discuss what spotters should do during pre-activation. In September, we will discuss post- activation.

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

Lew Maxwell. KB5HPT
ARRL Emergency Coordinator, El Paso County
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties
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  
ARRL Emergency Coordinator, El Paso County  
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net  
 
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Lewis Maxwell,
Sep 28, 2016, 6:16 PM
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Lewis Maxwell,
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Lewis Maxwell,
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