Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sandy: Ops in Stamford Garner Great Praise

Courtesy of NASA

A report from Jon Perelstein, WB2RYV, President, Stamford Amateur Radio Association, Communications Officer, Stamford CERT

Eight members of Stamford Amateur Radio Association (SARA) in Stamford CT are also members of Stamford CERT and volunteer in emergencies through CERT.  For Sandy, another twelve SARA members were either sworn in as "spontaneous volunteers" to CERT or were on standby to be called in if needed (and whether they know it or not ARE going to become members of Stamford CERT).  Two other members are senior volunteers in Red Cross disaster services and operate through that mechanism.

During and just after the storm, CERT hams were assigned to backup communications for shelter operations and for local EOC to the state Region 1 EOC.  There was at least one ham at each shelter, at the Stamford EOC, and at the Darien Red Cross chapter house (which serves the consolidated Stamford-Darien chapter).  Amateur radio operators who are sworn members of the Bridgeport EOC staffed the Red Cross Regional Operations Center in Bridgeport and also provided backup communications to the state’s Region 1 EOC.  We also arranged for ham radio members of a CERT in the Farmington area (Red Cross state headquarters) to staff communications between Bridgeport and Farmington.  We were prepared with VHF NBEMS for local communications (shelters, EOC, Darien); with HF NBEMS via NVIS antennas between Darien and Bridgeport, and with HF NBEMS via NVIS antennas between Bridgeport and Farmington.  VHF voice repeaters are available locally and regionally, and CT ARES maintains partial coverage of the state through a linked VHF voice repeater system, but exercises have shown that voice is inadequate to Red Cross shelter operations needs (especially over the linked repeater system).  Most of CERT/EOC hams were also prepared to work with VHF Winlink and HF Winmor.  

An interesting problem for us is the fact that most of the facilities we work with are in downtown urban settings, thus making it difficult to deploy HF antennas.  We have been testing with small antennas that can be deployed in those settings, and are using a mix of Buddipoles, 80 meter Hamstick dipoles, and other similar short NVIS antennas.  As it turns out, the short antennas let us set up in places that provide some protection from wind, although of course we had the antennas indoors during the height of the storm.

The original plan called for eight hour shifts, but weather conditions made it impossible to relieve people on schedule, with the result that most our hams did a 16 hour shift.  The ham at the Darien RC chapter house couldn't leave because of blocked roads and wound up on-site for about 30 hours.

The critical communications facilities did not fail as a result of the storm, and the backup communications were not needed.  As soon as that became apparent, our shelter-assigned hams reverted to being regular CERT members and participated in the full gamut of shelter operations from intake to food distribution to logistics to ...  One of them was part of the team that ran the pet shelter operations within the shelters.  The hams also took it upon themselves to take over the inventory and logistics control at the shelters.  When a food delivery problem interfered with Tuesday breakfast (the morning after the storm), one of our hams scrounged up coffee for 450 residents.

Three of our hams worked the City’s Citizen Service Line taking calls about downed trees, downed power lines, blocked roads, possible missing people, people trapped in cars or their homes, etc. (yes, some of those calls should have gone to 9-1-1 but the callers called us).  Another of our hams became involved in clearing up (non-technical) communications problems between Red Cross and Salvation Army (which provided the food to the shelters).  After clearing that problem, he was assigned to be the permanent liaison between Red Cross and Salvation Army to make sure that no additional problems arose.  Two of our hams wound up as “expediters” -- given specific tasks (and authority) to address communications issues between different operating units of the City (either people issues or technology issues).   I participated in the Mayor’s four hourly crisis assessment meetings.  

As happened in Irene, the Mayor’s senior staff tended to ask the senior ham on duty to get information about shelter status rather than calling over to the shelters themselves.  The explanation for this behavior given by one of the Mayor’s senior staff was essentially “When I call over, I wind up getting put into voice mail or told that someone would call me back.   When I ask you to get me the info, I get it in about five or ten minutes.”  This Director put a line item in her budget after Hurricane Irene for a “Baseball bat to assist amateur radio operators in collecting information on behalf of the Mayor”.

In the aftermath of the storm, we were visited by various local, state, and national politicians.  Whoever was hosting the visitor (often the Mayor) made a point of introducing me and noting I am president of SARA as well as an officer of Stamford CERT.  During one of those visits, I had a 5+ minute conversation with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal on the subject of ham radio’s relevance in modern emergency communications.

Participants included

Stamford CERT
Jon Perelstein (WB2RYV)
Chris Demisch (KB1QXR)
Christina Kovacs (KB1UOB)
Andrew Rosca (KB3CZA)
Bill Librandi (KB1IFY)
Donna Librandi (KB1TGW)
Steve Urso (KB1YLQ)
Tom Young (KD1UL)

Other SARA members sworn in or on standby
Terry Martin (W1TSM)
Jon Solomon (W3EIC)
AT Crocker (KK1R)
Georgi Todorov (K1GTT)
Tom Agoston (WB2HTJ)
Adam Borawski (W1ASB)
Jeanine Cariri (KY1Q)
Luis Cardez (KB1TJM)
Joe Molon  (KA1PPV)
John Sabini  (WB1GRB)
Chester Piorkowski (N1CHD)
John Braziel (W1AMF)

SARA Members in Red Cross Disaster Services
Frank Cassella (KB1IFX)
Frank Ballentine, Jr (KB1QZH)

Sandy: A Timely SET As the Storm Approached

We did a SET on Saturday Oct. 27th for NNY and ARES/Emcomm groups. On 2 meters VHF, we used the Whiteface Mountain  Emergency Repeater which is a wide-area repeater with some linking.  I ran the 40 meter HF portion of the SET from 1 to 3 p.m.

Talk about a timely preparedness for power outage and amateur radio operators to see how their station would perform if needed.   We had just a couple of SKYWARN training net and local calls by the hams with weather reports from their locations on Sunday and Monday.

So far we have spared much damage with only 88 people out of power in Mineville, NY from Monday into Tuesday til about Noon.   Essex Co.  EOC secured around Tuesday at Noon.

Tom, KF2GC

Sandy: View from Broome County, New York

Prior to the first wisp of SANDY, a variety of actions were initiated in preparation for a significant weather related event. Having learned lessons during the LEE response, ARES and RACES leadership started planning actions early. Broome County Emergency Coordinator Brian Adee, K2DLB and assistant coordinators Ford Drake, AB2HS and Ed Fedor, N2RWH (the American Red Cross's point of contact) gathered information on anticipated American Red Cross Shelters in both Broome and Tioga Counties. In cases where the locations had not been used previously communicators were sent to make RF assessments of the new location in order to determine the most reliable path to emergency service locations.

Ford, AB2HS in order to better assure Broome County wide communications installed a remote receiver at a new site in the south side of Binghamton. In addition he exchanged equipment at the Lisle remote receiver site. This site is important for communications from shelters in the NW area of Broome County. Ford later traveled to the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Binghamton Regional Airport and provided communications through the entre event..

During this time Brian, K2DLB activated ARES Members on a standby mode at 14:00 hours on Monday Oct 29 and was making contacts and seeking communicators for shelter locations while Jack, WB2GHH was attempting to do the same for continuous coverage at the Broome County EOC. A request for RACES communicators to cover the EOC and shelter sites was received on Monday at 0815 for activation in the early afternoon.. 

The Broome County RACES operating position at the EOC was activated at 1300 hours on Monday Oct 29. The primary mission was to monitor the local communication network on 146.865 and the New York State RACES frequency on 3.9935. Many coordination communications were handled among the various individuals in the system. Of prime importance was the excellent height advantage and wide area coverage location of Glen Weber's, W2GTW, station. He provided coordination and signal reception report activities throughout the entire event. The communicators at the Broome EOC, WB2MIS were: Mark Hall N2MTH, Bill Roth KC2ZQW, Dean Lawton W2DLO, Bob Soltis WA2VCS, Ann Whynman KB3UQC, Gary Williams KC2NOI, Herb Flint KD2CMB and Jack Connors WB2GHH. 

Brian Adee K2DLB Broome County ARRL Emergency Coordinator / District Emergency Coordinator / Alternate RO RACES reported that the following communicators were on standby in Broome and Tioga Counties for deployment to Red Cross Shelters or wherever needed. 

In Broome County: Lou Alfonsetti AC2HL, Tom Jenkins K2YEO, William Roth KC2ZQW, Ralph Azersky AC2GR, George Kilpatrick N2GSS, Ed Fedor N2RWH @ Red Cross, Andrew Deskur KA1M, John Rudy WB2FQZ, Rick Dupree NN2K, Pete Kofira, KB2JZG, Sharon Drake N2WGM, Tom Vroman N2BGM.

In Tioga County: Bernadette Toombs KA2NNS, Ed Lancki N2BHD, Terry Parker KC2SUN, William Kramer W2BAD, Ray Harrington W3MXI, George Allen K2CM

The amateur radio response, which started with remote receiver site installations and change outs on Saturday October 27 th, was put on a stand down mode at 0230 Tuesday Oct 30Th. Fortunately the Broome/Tioga areas were spared any severe damage.

The response of the amateur radio community to this anticipated disaster was an excellent example as to how the HAM communicators be they ARES or RACES or both or non-committed came together to provide a requested communication service to the community. 

A job well done.

John 'Jack' Connors, WB2GHH, Radio Officer RACES Broome County, Alt EC ARES                                           
Broome County, NY
Brian Adee, K2DLB, ARES Emergency Coordinator Broome County, Alt RO RACES Broome County

Sandy: Maine EmComm Prepared for the Worst

Here's a report from John M. Goran, NCE, K1JJS, ARRL Maine Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC)

Maine was, once again, very lucky during Hurricane Sandy.  We were minimally impacted by the storm, as Sandy delivered a minor wind, rain and coastal flood event to the state.  High winds caused many downed trees throughout Southern, Western and coastal parts of the state, which did cause power outages.  Electric utilities were prepared, and quick to respond to the outages, restoring most power within a few days.

Maine ARES was prepared to respond to requests for communications support state-wide.  There are confirmed responses from three groups:

Cumberland County EMA
York County EMA
National Weather Service/GYX Skywarn (most of the Skywarn team are amateur radio operators/ARES members)

Cumberland and York County ARES members were called in to assist with communications at the respective EOC's, manning both amateur and county communications equipment.  The Skywarn team was tasked with collecting weather and related event reports from spotters around the state.  The teams were called in mid day on Monday, October 29, and released the following morning.

The Maine Emergency Communications Net (MECN) was staged and prepared to activate, as were local Emergency Nets around the state.  Thankfully, they were not needed.

Maine ARES was placed on Yellow Alert (Activation Level 1) Status on Saturday, October 27 @ 1000 hrs, and returned to Green Status (no active events) on Wednesday, October 31 @ 1700 hrs.  Updates were provided to DEC's and EC's via e-mail and web throughout the event.

Sandy: A Massive Response from Connecticut

Connecticut  amateur radio ops were very busy during Hurricane Sandy.  Here’s a report from SM Betsey Doane, K1EIC and SEC Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV.  

Approximately eighty stations checked into the SM/SEC net held on Sunday night before the major start of the hurricane in CT.  The SM and SEC each presented some brief reminders to all.

SM Betsey, K1EIC, spent the day facilitating where needed.  She helped recruit volunteers to fill gaps where needed and took calls from served agencies to fill their quests.  All requests and problems were solved quickly by SM Betsey, SEC Wayne, and the CT ARES team.

SEC Wayne worked from the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) Region 4 Headquarters all day Monday and half the day Tuesday.  SM Betsey, ASEC Rod N1FNE, DECs Toy K1WYQ, Douglas WA1SFH, ADEC Richard KB1ONM, ASEC Bill W1GTT, DEC Dave K1DAV, ADEC Jim KD1LD, STM Anne K1STM, ASM and ASTM Larry K1HEJ, PIC Dana KA1WPM, assistant Region 1 Richard K1CYR, and Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike KI1U from ARRL HQ were active on the SEC’s leadership nets which met every two hours on the KB1AEV linked repeater system.  Some members of this group were operating from their respective DEMHS Region Headquarters stations.  All participated, giving reports of current conditions.
Skywarn was very active.  Assistant DEC Skywarn Jim KD1LD kept all of us updated about current conditions and did a great job working with our very dedicated  Skywarn ECs who coordinated activity in their counties. Roger K1PAI coordinated 10 Skywarn nets for Hartford County. Other Skywarn nets were run by Roger NG1R in Fairfield County, Christina KB1QFM and her husband Rick N1DWM in New London County, and Bernie KB1DGY in Windham County.  We needed a fill in for New Haven County so Craig W1MHZ volunteered even under his own emergency conditions.  He ran a net while camped out at his neighbor’s home, as I understand he had to be evacuated.

ASEC Art AF1HS made sure appropriate alerts were posted on the CTARES Web site; ASM Jim KD1YV and John N1IWT kept track of the ARES Discussion email reflector making sure that that server was operational.  We use those internet capabilities to inform all whenever we can.

DEC Toy K1WYQ reported the following for Region 1:  We had some unfortunate mishaps like the loss of power to the Norwalk 2m and 70 cm machine  on the AT&T tower for 45 minutes as well as malfunctioning equipment that could not work in a shelter.  But the group quickly recovered.  A backup repeater was put into service for the short duration, while a call to AT&T had emergency power started at the site.

Operators were deployed in the following areas:
Greenwich ARC in conjunction with the White Plains NY arm of the ARC that governs this section of the ARC. A last minute call for assistance was accommodated and one operator from Region 1 ARES was deployed. 
Stamford: All operators were recently CERT trained and were under the umbrella of the City of Stamford and were asked to provide backup comms for the city. They were under the leadership of EC Jon Perelstein, WB2RYV.  Ops were deployed to the shelters as needed.  They also provided valuable support to the Stamford OEM, manning phones; they had over 700 evacuees
The town of Darien had one operator deployed at the ARC
City of Norwalk: The shelter was staffed around the clock by ARES one operator was an evacuee. Comms from this area was difficult from inside the building. Noiseless comm. was possible from outside the school (shelter) 3 ops were on standby for the Norwalk Hospital
Town of Wilton: One operator was on site at the EOC
Town of New Canaan: one operator was on standby 
Town of Westport one operator was deployed and sent home because he was not needed at that time. 
Fairfield: one op on standby
Bridgeport: Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club was at the EOC. They established comms with the DEC in Norwalk. They had over 800 evacuees in three evacuation centers
Stratford OEC was staffed by ARES ops who were eventually told to stand down

Many other shelters throughout the Section were supported by Amateur radio operators, some of whom are also CERT trained.  EC Jon Perelstein WB2RYV of Stamford reports that eight volunteers and two Red Cross disaster leaders, most of whom are members of The Stamford Amateur Radio Association, supported the three Stamford shelters, manned the City's Citizen Service Line, provided backup communications for Red Cross between the shelters, the EOC, and the Darien Red Cross chapter house.

Those manning the shelters did everything from intake to cooking to support for the elderly and infirm.  Those who manned the Citizen Service Line were the City's direct communication to residents as they called for information about whether and where to evacuate.  They also took reports of downed trees and power lines for dispatch of CL&P and City work crews.  Those who participated were Andrew KB3CZA, AT KK1R, Donna KB1TGW, Chris KB1QXR, Jonathan W3EIC, Tina  KB1UOB, Terry W1TSM and EC Jon Wb2RYV.  Frank KB1IFX and Franklin KB1QZH participated as disaster team leaders for American Red Cross.  They ran shelters during and after the storm.  While backup communications were not needed this time around, we had operators at all the shelters, at the EOC, and at the Darien Red Cross chapter house.  Our ham volunteers also became involved as "expediters" in dealing with various problems such as untangling a (non-radio) communications issue that was interfering with food deliveries to the Stamford shelters.  While all of the hams did exemplary work, two people went "above and beyond":  KK1R spent a full 24 hours at the Darien Red Cross chapter house, and Tina (KB1UOB) magically scrounged up coffee for 450 shelter residents on Tuesday morning.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Mayor was careful to single out SARA participants to various visiting politicians, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.  Both the Mayor and the Director of Public Safety made specific mention of amateur radio in thanking the various volunteer groups who helped the City.  TV Channel 8 WTNH reported on this team’s activities: and understand that there was a report on WSHU Public Radio.

In Region 2, DEC Douglas WA1SFH operated for two days from DEMHS Region 2 Headquarters and ran nets every hour on Monday.  Eric KB1WCO and Mark N1LUF operated from the Seymour EOC.  EC Al K1QEX was at the Orange EOC with EMD Fred KB1SWH and Deputy EMD Tino NF1Y; Ed WA1LEI was at the Orange shelter, EC Sid N1MVM operated from the Guilford EOC, Doris KB1VCL was at the New Haven Chapter of the American Red Cross,  EC Phil KB1UVK operated from the Westbrook EOC, Dan KB1MMR was at the Durham EOC  and Mike N1MWU covered the Killingworth EOC and shelter.  Ec Al K1QEX was later in the Orange shelter with a 2 meter simplex link to the EOC.  The hams who are also CERT-certified were at the Orange shelter for several days.  Those participating were:  Al K1QEX, Ed WA1LEI, Lenn KB1QEW, Lynn KB1SWI and Joe KB1SWK.  This region is more recently reorganized.  DEC Douglas and his team deserve congrats on getting so many trained people out in the field!
In Eastern Connecticut, the following towns in Region 4 opened shelters that were supported by ARES and/or Red Cross ham radio operators: East Lyme, New London, Groton, Stonington, Norwich, and Colchester and the Area 4 Waterford Office of the Red Cross (K1ARC). 

The East Lyme Regional Shelter was opened on Sunday, Oct 28, 2012 by the American Red Cross. Amateur radio assistance was requested on Monday morning October 29, to provide the amateur radio link to the Waterford American Red Cross Headquarters. Bill W1GTT, who is an ARES ASEC and the town of East Lyme's OEM Radio Officer, activated the amateur radio operation using the shelter radio, go-box, and antenna that had been assembled by ARES from a Homeland Security Grant. Ken KB1MAM, Nancy N1QKY, Dave W1RED manned the shelter during the mornings and afternoons into the early evenings...and Gabe W1GAP was the overnight radio operator. Bill W1GTT provided relief as needed while the shelter was operational.  Ken KB1MAM, because of his involvement in this event, became a member of ARES. 

ADEC Chip, N1MIE, reports that in Norwich, the Kelly Middle School shelter was manned by Dave N1WPK shelter manager and radio op Kevin KA6PDG.  The Griswold Shelter was manned by several who are currently in Chip’s tech class so they got firsthand knowledge of what happens in an emergency and the role of Amateur radio, a valuable lesson it seems to us.

NTS NM Mike W1MCT ran the Region 4 Resource net and 31 different stations checked in—thank you all!

Here’s some news from Region 5.  DEC Dave K1DAV was at the Torrington EOC for many hours.

EC Mark Hertzberg WA2IZQ, Region COG EC KO1F and Al KB1SOQ were at the Danbury EOC.  ADEC Harlan W1QH and Tony KB1YNB and Jim KB1SPA were at the War Memorial Shelter.  Although not all tasks were comms-related, each contributed to assessment efforts in their areas of responsibility.  The Newtown EOC was covered by EC John KB1LYP, Bernard KB1OBQ  and Peter WA1SOV; EC Paul KB1TOR and Frank W1LCR were at Goshen EOC; Ridgefield was covered by Tom WA8UNS and Paul K3SOC; Harwinton had at their EOC Chris KB1SLN and Angela KB1NZV; Prospect EOC was manned by EC Bill W7YY and EC Richard N1UIL. Bethel EC Jim KD1YV reported that Ken KD1DD, Bill N1PJQ and Barry KA1JDD were at Bethel EOC helping the Danbury group with technical issues relating to their repeater.  Herb N1KWV managed Red Cross operation in Bethel.  

The Region 5 resource net run by DEC K1DAV had 17 towns checking in.

On the digital front, ASM Larry K1HEJ reports that the Flexnet packet nodes maintained connectivity.  One node went down but was back up the next day.  There appeared to be a good deal of use of Winlink gateways.  Larry further reported that before the storm, 29 nodes were connecting to the W1HAD packet network but sometime on Monday, this number was reduced to 14.  But only two of those stations that serve CT were impacted.

NTS nets ran as scheduled but stood by to handle only emergency record traffic to accommodate repeaters on backup power. Many operators stood by; lots took part actively.  Those at shelters supported communication when asked and helped out with other related tasks.  We all had very long days.

To every single one of you, thank you.  Remember to also thank your leaders.  Special thanks to my SEC Wayne N1CLV.  We’re a team!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Three-Mile Island: Amateur Radio's Response

Technicians enter the Unit 2 reactor building on Three Mile Island in March 1979. (Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)
          Former Public Service columnist for CQ Amateur Radio magazine, Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, served as the ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Coordinator for 10 years in the 1970s and early 1980s. On his watch, the United States experienced its only nuclear accident, Three Mile Island (TMI), located along the Susquehanna River south of Harrisburg. TMI is in the ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania section. Here are WA3PZO's recollections of the amateur radio response to the disaster of the March 29, 1979 accident. - Ed.

Harrowing Reflections of a
U.S. Nuclear Meltdown

By Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO

            It was a typical weekday morning. As I ate breakfast I had the local news radio station on catching up on the headlines. The story broke, "Site Emergency Declared at TMI" (6:56 AM). In the Harrisburg area  a call for communications assistance came from the county office of Emergency Preparedness.
           Under the direction of Bob Marziri, WA3AVX (SK), members of the Central Pennsylvania Repeater Association set up communications at the Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg, just 13 miles from TMI, Middletown (the closest town to TMI), the local Red Cross Office, and WHP television/radio, which served as the rumor control center.
          The Club's four repeaters (2 on 146 Mhz, 1 on 220 Mhz, and an RTTY repeater on 2 meters) were utilized to their fullest. Confidential traffic was passed on RTTY for security reasons. The information relayed by amateur radio to WHP had a calming effect on the community, offsetting some of the rumors which were rapidly spreading through the area.
              During the day plans were made to move all operations at the county EOC 30 miles north if it became necessary to evacuate the Harrisburg area. Pennsylvania Governor Thornburg recommended that pregnant women and preschool children within five miles of TMI leave the area.  At this point communications were established at the Red Cross Evacuation Center in Hershey, some eight miles away from TMI.
            Twenty-eight hours after the accident began Lieutenant Governor William Scranton III said that Metropolitan Edison, the plant's owner, had assured the state that "everything is under control".  Later that day, Scranton changed his statement, saying that the situation was "more complex than the company first led us to believe". There were conflicting statements about radiation releases.  Schools were closed and residents were urged to stay indoors. Farmers were told to keep their animals under cover and on stored feed.
            For the next two days the situation remained in a holding pattern as officials attempted to determine the extent of the damage at TMI.
            Friday morning the 'patient' had gone critical. TMI station manager Gary Miller announced a general emergency', defined as having the "potential for serious radiological consequences" to the general public. A hydrogen bubble was expanding inside the damaged reactor. The American Red Cross, Mid-Atlantic Division, in Philadelphia called Josuweit. The message was simple it sent shock waves throughout the state. "There is a possibility of a three-county evacuation - please establish communications." As the day progressed, that figure increased to a possibility of five counties or everything within a 20-mile radius of TMI; population 630,000.
            State government officials quickly developed the evacuation plan. The plan quickly showed the importance of Amateur Radio. Amateur Radio would provide primary communications between areas being evacuated, the evacuation centers, and the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). Many Pennsylvania counties were preparing to receive between 20,000 and 25,000 evacuees.
            Philadelphia, just 100 miles away, was designated to receive up to 70,000 evacuees. Schools would house between 1,000 and 3,000 evacuees. Each shelter would require Amateur Radio communications 24 hours a day!
            By Monday the patient had stabilized. The hydrogen bubble in the damaged reactor was reduced. The need for evacuation was not as great. However amateur radio operators were still at their stations 10 days after the accident when the Governor lifted his recommendation for people to stay out of the affected area. Little, if any health and welfare traffic came into the affected area. 
            The citizens of Pennsylvania placed a huge responsibility on the state's amateur radio operators in providing communications. They met the challenge. Like many, they left their families behind to provide a service to the community, not knowing what challenges or health risks lie ahead.
            Since TMI, amateur radio operators have played an important role providing communications during regularly scheduled nuclear power plant exercises. It is safe to say that since TMI Pennsylvania hams have remained RADIOactive. 

Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, vividly recalls the events surrounding the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 - when he served as ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Coordinator. (Courtesy of WA3PZO)

Part I: A Portable 2-Meter EmComm Beam

          A six-element portable direct-feed 2-meter beam may be just what you need next time you’re called to EmComm duty in the field. With coat hangers and PVC, we'll show you how to make this simple and effective trail-friendly antenna. It is based on a design by Kent Britain, WA5VJB, of Grand Prairie, Texas and configured in this KI6SN version to be disassembled for carrying to a disaster site or community event, then easily reassembled on the spot.
          This is the first of several parts that will detail step-by-step how to build, test and operate using this six-element portable 2-meter beam.
          In Part I we start with a little homework: A 440 MHz version of this antenna was featured in the April 2011 edition of the free, online amateur radio magazine WorldRadio Online. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of building this 2-meter version, please read "A 440 MHz Coat Hanger Beam to Hang Your Signal On," in the edition's Trail-Friendly Radio column on Page 22.
          Simply CLICK HERE to visit WRO's homepage and click on Previous 2011 Issues in the menu on the left-hand side of the page.
          Most of the construction principles used in the 440 MHz will be employed in the 2-meter version. It's important to familiarize yourself with them before we get started.
          In Part II, we'll gather the parts and begin fashioning them for this outstanding antenna. (HINT: Start hunting for about a dozen metal coat hangers. That should be more than enough.)
          We'll send out notices on WRO's Twitter and Facebook sites to let you know when the subsequent installments are posted.
          Meantime, please get going on your homework, and you'll be hearing from us soon as we put the pieces and construction methodology together for your homebrewing pleasure.

- Richard Fisher, KI6SN

LOST AND FOUND: See 'Rescue in Miller Canyon,' in Spring 2011 CQ VHF magazine

          Disoriented and alone, a lost Arizona hiker is found with the help of a well-equipped and manned mobile communications unit, experienced search and rescue personnel and highly-skilled radio direction finders – all radio amateurs who feel at home in the field.
          CQ VHF magazine Homing In columnist Joe Moell, KØOV, writes in the Spring 2011 edition about the dramatic rescue of a hiker lost in inhospitable Miller Canyon, near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The U.S. Forest Service has oversight of the area.
          "It's easy to get lost in the Huachuca Mountains," Moell writes. Jeremy Hyde, KE7ENZ, "had just completed an overnight Boy Scout activity on Miller Peak," when he decided to return ahead of the rest of the group. He inadvertently followed the wrong trail and found himself hopelessly lost.
          Fortunately, 'ENZ had a Kenwood TH-K2AT handie-talkie with him. His call for help on the Cochise County Amateur Radio Association repeater sparked a remarkable demonstration of direction-finding skills - with the help of the county's mobile communications unit. Charles Campbell, K4AFN, said Hyde "helped the SAR (search and rescue) team determine that he was on the eastern slope of the mountain next to a fest-moving stream that was very loud. The dense brush and trees made it very difficult to move around. He could see Sierra Vista, but he was not able to provide any landmarks to determine a bearing."
          Cooperation and triangulation were the key words of the day as skilled Cochise County ARES®/RACES radio amateurs teamed to zero-in on Hyde's location for a rescue.
          CLICK HERE for information on how to get full details about how DFing operators saved the day in "Rescue in Miller Canyon."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SKYWARN Recognition Day - WX4NC, North Carolina

WX4NC SKYWARN Recognition Day participant Dave Roy, W4DNA, operates on the high frequencies at the Raleigh NWS in North Carolina. For the complete story, see the March 2011 CQ Amateur Radio magazine Public Service column by Richard Fisher, KI6SN. (Courtesy of K4BGM)

Bob Woodson, WX4MMM, left, operates IRLP at WX4NC while Chris Benson, KJ4LKE, makes contacts on local repeaters. (Courtesy of K4BGM)

Virginia Enzor, NC4VA, middle, oversees WX4NC radio operation by Cassie Mentha, KJ4GKP, foreground, and logger Kristina Benson. (Courtesy of K4BGM)

Cassie Mentha, KJ4GKP, makes WX4NC contact via IRLP with WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center, Miami. (Courtesy of K4BGM)

Scott Lewis, KJ4BPV, standing, watches over WX4NC SRD 2010 HF radio operation by spotters Chris Benson, KJ4LKE, and logger Kristina Benson. (Courtesy of K4BGM)

SKYWARN Recognition Day - WX9IWX, Indiana

Ray Deahl, N8FHX, logs another contact on 20 meters for WX9IWX at the NWS Northern Indiana office during SRD 2010. (Courtesy of KG4KJQ)

SKYWARN Recognition Day - WX4NHC, Miami

A SKYWARN™  tour group tours gets a look at operations at WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center in Miami during SRD 2010. (Courtesy of WD4R)

SKYWARN Recognition Day - K4OHX, Tennessee

Michael Whitney, K4MFW, takes to the air at K4OHX in Tennessee during his first SKYWARN™ Recognition Day in December 2010. (Courtesy of K4OHX)

2010 Chicago Marathon Amateur Radio Support

Mark Klocksin, WA9IVH, serves as a medical net control during the 2010 Chicago Marathon in which 38,000 runners took part. For complete details about the race and the radio amateurs' activity, see the March 2011 edition of CQ Amateur Radio's Public Service column by Richard Fisher, KI6SN. (Photograph courtesy of K9RST)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

CHILE 'QUAKE: Frequencies for EmComm

For IARU / Red Chilena Nor Austral de Servicio (RECNA) monitoring frequencies for the 8.8 Chilean earthquake, click:

- WorldRadio Online newsroom

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To The Rescue: SoCal Couple Honored for Rescue

CQ Amateur Radio magazine's  March 2010 Public Service column features a story by Richard Fisher, KI6SN, chronicling the heroic efforts of a Southern California couple in helping save the life of a severely injured hiker on Catalina Island.

Deborah Ava, KJ6CRZ, and Karl Tso, KI6PCW, of Topanga, CA, were honored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for their life-saving efforts in the life-saving rescue of the 59-year-old man. The duo used 2-meter FM repeater communications to summon help. (Photographs courtesy of KI6PCW)

Using an ICOM IC-92AD VHF/UHF handi-talkie, KI6PCW was able to get assistance in contacting authorities from Scott Bastian, KD6QZX, of Fullerton; and Joyce Wood, KD6HYO, of Costa Mesa on the Southern California mainland. They worked together to assure emergency agencies were notified and on the way to help the severely injured Catalina hiker.

Click here to visit CQ Amateur Radio magazine's Web site.

If you have a story to share about how amateur radio played a role in a rescue operation, please send it via e-mail to:

For an enlarged view, click on the images.

Monday, January 11, 2010

SNAPSHOTS: SKYWARN Recognition Day '09

The Public Service column in the February 2010 edition of CQ Amateur Radio magazine has in focus SKYWARN Recognition Day 2009, held Dec. 5.

Below are additional snapshots from SKYWARN stations from around the country during the event. There's also a short story of the event station in Tavares, FL by Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ.

For an enlarged view of most of the photographs on this site, please click on the image.

Richard Fisher, KI6SN
Public Service editor, CQ Amateur Radio magazine


From foreground to background on SKYWARN Recognition Day at WX4NC were Courtney Enzor, KI4HOS; Cassie Mentha, KJ4GKP; and Virginia Enzor, NC4VA.

Central Carolina SKYWARN / Raleigh NWS participants at the National Weather Service office, from left:
KNEELING – Dave Roy, W4DNA; Jeff Orrock, KI4KKX.
BACK ROW – Randy Stark, WN4RSS; Scott Lewis, KJ4BPV; Ken Stark, W4KJS; Virginia Eznor, NC4VA; Bob Woodson, WX4MMM; Chris Benson, KJ4LKE; and Christine Benson.

On SKYWARN Recognition Day, Cassie Mentha, KJ4GKP, savors the moment after making her first HF contact ever.

Jeff Orrock, KI4KKX, assists with antenna installation from the roof of the Raleigh NWS in rain and cold.

Photographs courtesy of Central Carolina SKYWARN / Raleigh NWS, WX4NC


At N5CCW's SKYWARN Recognition Day station, an Icom 746, is connected to a temporary inverted V antenna via an LDG antenna tuner. Software on the laptop is MixW. The set-up uses a Rigexpert interface from laptop to 746 for PSK31.

Larry Boudreau, W5LDB, and James Ermis, AD5TC, operate the permanent station at the Corpus Christi NWS office.  Station is a Kenwood TS2000 connected to a multiband inverted-V.

A temporary Inverted V antenna was part of the N5CCW SKYWARN Recognition Day set-up.

Steve Pituch, W2MY, provided an Elecraft K3 HF radio during the N5CCW operation. 

A daytime picture from N5CCW shows the swamp-bound location of the temporary antenna. Water can be seen in the lower right of the picture.

 Jab Murray, K5CNZ, left, and Steve Putich, W2MY, make SKYWARN contacts on his K3.

Steve Hampton, NØWZH, tries to get one more PSK contact.

Members of the crew at N5CCW raises the mast of the U.S. Marine surplus push-up mast.

The temporary antenna is finally raised at N5CCW in Corpus Christi.

Photographs courtesy of N5CCW. 


Rob Macedo, KD1CY, ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton, talking on VHF/UHF while Jeremy Breef-Bilz, KB1REQ, monitors Echolink. 

KB1REQ works HF while Carl Aveni, N1FY, Assistant ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton, mans Echolink.

Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, Assistant ARES SEC and SKYWARN Coordinator on VHF/UHF on SKYWARN Recognition Day 2009.

At the Taunton, MA SKYWARN operation, Dennis Dura, K2DCD, works VHF/UHF.

K2DCD, right, works HF; and Greg Glynn, W1VFB, is on VHF/UHF while Rob Macedo, KD1CY looks on.

Photographs courtesy of WX1BOX.



On SKYWARN Recognition Day, the Elko NWS station - WX7LKN - was in action. Here's the Elko ARC portable light plant and A4S beam to the left.

At WX7LKN, Elk, NV on SKYWARN Recognition Day 2009, were, from left, Kent LeBarts, K6IN; Justin Gleason, KF7DLW; Don Tanner, KF7GGR; and Pete Johnson, W7TKO.

Photographs courtesy of WX7LKN and Kathy Stich, W7BDY.


The United States flag flies over the roof bridge of the National Hurricane Center in Miami on SKYWARN Recognition Day, 2009 where WX4NHC took to the air in recognition of weather observers from around the world - many of them radio amateurs.

Photography courtesy of WX4NHC, the National Hurricane Center


The Royal Harbor Amateur Radio Club of Tavares, FL took part in SKYWARN Recognition Day - an event to strengthen  the relationship between amateur radio operators and the National Weather Service.

During times of dangerous weather conditions local ham radio operators  within their communities become the eyes and ears for the NWS by reporting things like tornados, hail storms , and damaging wind conditions to a regional NWS office.

These people are trained by the National Weather Service to be certified Skywarn Spotters. The members of the Royal Harbor Amateur Radio Club in Lake County decided to see how many NWS stations they could contact across the United States to help celebrate SKYWARN Recognition Day.

We set up at my home of (Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ) and operated on HF, VHF, and UHF using single sideband, packet, Echolink and PSK 31. Since the RHARC is made up of retirees that need their sleep, we didn’t operate overnight like some serious contesters might.

We started at 1230 UTC and continued until 2200 UTC. There were six members involved in making this event a success. They were Carl DePoy, K8BBT; Ken  Secora, N9KS; Mike Ward, WA9VIQ;  Luke Short, KJ4QVK; and myself. Also my XYL , Deb Luebbers,  KB1FEF, provided logistical support with coffee and food.

Three members of our club are already card carrying SKYWARN Spotters. We contacted 30 National Weather Service offices  across the country exchanging current weather information with each location.  We accumulated the above total using the following modes of communication: High Frequency ( 9 ), PSK-31 ( 3 ), Echo Link ( 17 ), and 2 meter FM ( 1 ) .

Although these numbers may not be impressive to most contesters,  we had a lot of  fun making those contacts. This is the first time our newly formed club has tried anything like this and as a result we will be trying some other special events and contests in the future. Besides having a good time running the equipment and chasing down NWS contacts we learned how to divide up the jobs so we were not in each others way by splitting up operating positions and how not to cause interference with the various modes of communication we used.

We also got a chance to exercise some of our portable emergency equipment  first by finding it, then getting it to run properly. Another benefit that we had not anticipated was the opportunity to acquaint  two of our newer members with the two digital modes they had not seen before in operation. This may have sparked a new interest for them. 

Our equipment consisted of two laptop computers: one for packet and the other for  EchoLink. One PC was devoted to PSK-31 using Digi Pan 2.0 software with a SignaLink-USB attached to an ICOM 718. 

For high frequencies we used an ICOM 756, for 2 meter FM and packet the gear was a Yaesu FT-7800R and a Kenwood  TM-G707. Our antennas were a J-Pole for 2 meters, a Cushcraft R-6000 ground mounted and a Hustler MO-2 Spider mobile antenna mounted on a tripod on the back lawn. All in all it was a rewarding and fun day for all of us.

- Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ

IN THE PHOTOGRAPH: Carl DePoy, K8BBT, makes contacts during SKYWARN Recognition Day 2009 at K1AYZ in Tavares, FL. (Photograph courtesy of K1AYZ)