August 2019

August 2019

DEC Bulletin

Health and Welfare Messaging:

For years’ Amateur radio has handled health and welfare messaging using the ARRL radiogram for disaster victims. When ARES® switched over to the Winlink2000 Global Messaging System (WL2K) the specific health and welfare category was dropped. Our role with WL2K is tailored more to the city/county and disaster relief agencies. Individuals can take care of their own health and welfare messaging themselves now days without the use of amateur radio. The first two methods will be broadcast by FEMA and emergency management officials.

Preferred Methods of sending health and welfare messages.

Safe and Well

The American Red Cross Safe and Well Website is the first preferred method, and can be found at it is self-registering. When registering a series of canned health and welfare messages are given. Select one of them and when family and friends check this website, they will see the message.

Text First, Talk Later

Text First, Talk Later is a second preferred method. During a disaster the cell voice circuits may be intentionally turned off to protect the equipment. The data circuits most likely will be left up. It takes less bandwidth to send a short text message than it does for a voice call so more people can contact family and friends. Send a short text message and when the voice circuits are turned back on make the phone call then.

PiGate Emergency Email Gateway

Now the PiGate can be used to deliver Health and Welfare messages in the form of a regular email amateur radio operators. So, I had pretty much deleted all references to health and welfare messaging out of my ARES® SOP. However, after seeing this PiGate and owning one I am putting the references back in the SOP.

The PiGate ( is a small piece of hardware consisting of a Raspberry Pi and a Raspberry Pi TNC. It can be setup in the vicinity of a shelter area and be used to send e-mail through the Winlink2000 global messaging system Radio Message Server (RMS) station. Users connect to the PiGate thru a WiFi port either using a web browser, or an e-mail application, on their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The heart of the PiGate system is the web-based e-mail client.  Individual e-mail users can have a username and password created by the system administrator on the PiGate. The user can then login via the web-based e-mail application where they will have a full e-mail system that looks and functions much like any e-mail application that they have used.  The WL2K global e-mail system then routes the e-mail to any address in the world.

Questions and comments about this article are welcome and encouraged. Contact me as shown below.

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

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6 – Far West Texas