Fifty of the nation’s most accomplished Amateur Radio operators responded within 24 hours to the call of the American Red Cross to deploy to Puerto Rico and provide emergency communications. At the behest of Red Cross, ARRL rallied the US Amateur Radio community to provide up to 25 two-person teams of highly qualified hams. The group’s principal mission will be to move health-and-welfare information from the island back to the US mainland, where that data will be entered in the Red Cross “Safe & Well” website.
The group will deploy the middle of this week and remain on the island for up to 3 weeks.
ARRL will equip each two-person team with a modern digital HF transceiver, special software, a dipole antenna, a power supply and all the connecting cables, fitted in a rugged waterproof container. In addition, ARRL is sending a number of small, 2,000-W portable generators as well as solar-powered battery chargers of the variety the US military uses on extended deployments. The hams and their equipment will be sent to Red Cross shelters extending from San Juan to the western end of the island.
“This generous outpouring of response represents the finest qualities of the Amateur Radio community,” ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, said. “These individuals are dropping whatever they are doing now, heading off to an extended hardship-duty assignment, and offering their special talents to Americans who have been cut off from their families, living amid widespread destruction and without electrical power since Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean region last week.”
ARRL’s Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said this was the first time in the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and the American Red Cross that such as request for assistance had been made. “Hurricane Maria has devastated the island’s communications infrastructure,” Corey said. “Without electricity and telephone, and with most of the cell sites out of service, millions of Americans are cut off from communicating. Shelters are unable to reach local emergency services. And, people cannot check on the welfare of their loved ones. The situation is dire.”
In a letter to all ARRL members, ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, asked for contributions to ARRL’s Ham Aid fund. “Equipment has been flying out the door since Hurricane Harvey struck the US mainland,” he emphasized. “From meeting requirements in aid of Hurricane Irma victims in the US Virgin Island and Florida, our store of Ham Aid kits has been depleted.”
ARRL’s Ham Aid program loans Amateur Radio equipment kits to established Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) groups and partner agencies during disaster responses, in order to establish Amateur Radio communication support. Ham Aid is supported by donations from individuals and corporations, including many of our ham radio industry partners.
ARRL has previously staged Ham Aid equipment in Texas, and in the last few weeks, ARRL has supplied kits to Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. With our Ham Aid inventory depleted, your donation is needed now. Contributions to Ham Aid are 100% tax deductible.
To make a donation online, go to the ARRL donation form and select “Ham Aid.” To donate by mail, print a donation form, and mail it with your check payable to ARRL, noting “Ham Aid” on the memo line of your check. Mail to ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 USA.
The American Red Cross (ARC) has asked the ARRL for assistance with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. ARC needs up to 50 radio amateurs that can help record, enter and submit disaster survivor information into the ARC Safe and Well system. In the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and ARC this is the first time such a request for assistance on this scale has been made. ARRL now is looking for radio amateurs that can step up and volunteer to help our friends in Puerto Rico. There are very specific requirements and qualifications needed for this deployment.
Requirements Due to the nature of this deployment you will need to process in as ARC volunteers, including passing a background check. The ARC has indicated they will cover all expenses for transportation, lodging and feeding while on deployment. ARC will also provide liability coverage for volunteers. The only out of pocket expense to the volunteer would be personal items purchased during deployment.
ARRL and ARC will require training for volunteers being deployed. ARC will provide general deployment training and advanced training in working in austere environments. ARRL will provide to ARC training on Amateur Radio equipment and modes to be used, reporting and operating guidelines. Deployment will be for up to three weeks.
Qualifications - General class Amateur Radio license or higher - Familiarity with WinLink, HF voice, and VHF simplex communications - Strong technical skills - Ability to work under difficult conditions - Ability to deploy for up to three weeks - Ability to work as part of a team Helpful Skills - Spanish speaking - Previous experience in disaster response - Previous or current work as a Red Cross volunteer - Previous experience with shelter operations
If you feel that you meet these qualifications and would like to be considered for this deployment please contact ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-594-0222 who will make the introduction of qualified volunteers to ARC. to edit.
When hurricanes destroy phone lines, the Guard enables communication...
By: Tara Copp.
WASHINGTON ― Twenty-four hours after Hurricane Maria sent Puerto Rico into darkness, the first National Guard troops arrived, well-versed in how to handle the aftermath. Maria is their third Category 5 hurricane this month.
The first 500 troops to respond were Puerto Rico National Guard forces activated in advance of the storm. On Thursday they conducted search and rescue missions and did route clearance, said Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
The next wave will arrive with generators, helicopters and high-water vehicles. Much of that equipment was used in the National Guard’s response to Hurricane Harvey Aug. 25, and then Hurricane Irma Sept. 10. Then it was pre-positioned again to be ready for Maria.
“We’ve learned a lot from [Hurricane] Katrina over the years,” Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of staff of the National Guard, told defense reporters Monday.
Airmen load a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability trailer onto a C-130J Hercules to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Eight more are headed to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.. (Master Sgt. Matt Schwartz/Air Force)
One of the lessons learned was the value of bringing in deployable, civilian-friendly phone lines. Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and downed most of its telephone wires.
Getting some of that communication restored will depend on the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability.
The JISCC is a 20-foot, tented communications system on a trailer, with its own generator and satellite dish. It can move to a storm location via a flatbed or a C-130.
It’s normal for the military to deploy with its own communications systems. The problem is that those networks are often closed off from non-military phone calls.
With the JISCC, “the system is so flexible, that a county sheriff on his personal cell phone can call up a military commander who is using his standard military radio system,” said Army Col. Les Melnyk, a spokesman for the Guard. “This is facilitated by radio cross-banding and is a unique capability of the JISCC.”
“We can bring these systems into a disaster response area, where maybe the cell phone networks have been taken out, and we can establish a network for people to be able to communicate,” Lengyel said.
The National Guard first tested out the JISCC during Katrina in 2005. Based on its performance there, the Defense Department used National Guard and reserve equipment funds to buy 100 of them. Each system costs about $1.5 million.
The Guard had six JISCCs in use for its Hurricane Harvey response and 12 for Irma. Puerto Rico’s National Guard had two on the island, which they took down to protect them before Maria hit “but they will be up and running soon,” Melnyk said.
The Guard Bureau is also coordinating to have six more JISCCs sent to Puerto Rico, two each for airfield operations, a joint force headquarters and two to support U.S. Marines operating there from the nearby amphibious assault ships Wasp and Kearsarge, which remained in the area following Hurricane Irma.
Aircraft from those ships also conducted their first search and rescue operations early Thursday, Davis said.
Lengyel suspects the JISCC will be needed again before the year is out, noting that 2012’s Hurricane Sandy hit in November.
“This has been a pretty aggressive hurricane season,” Lengyel said. “We’re not by any means out of the danger zone yet.”
Credit: Tara Copp, the Military Times’ Pentagon Bureau Chief.
Tcopp@mco.com Twitter: @TaraCopp
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The FCC said 95 percent of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites are out of service in a Sept. 21 statement
“Hurricane Maria has had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico’s communications networks,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The FCC is proactively reaching out to communications providers in Puerto Rico to gather additional information about the situation on the ground and find out if there is anything that the commission can do to assist with restoration efforts. We are also working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and providing all requested support.
“Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island. But the FCC stands ready to do whatever we can to help with this task. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.” The FCC said it will be available 24 hours a day to address emergency communications needs as Maria approaches and threatens U.S. coastal areas and U.S. territories.
Hurricane Irma, making its way through the Caribbean with the possibility of affecting South Florida by week’s end, has, in the words of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), become “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane.” The NHC urged that hurricane preparations be rushed to completion in areas now under hurricane warnings.
As of 1800 UTC, Hurricane Irma was some 180 miles east of Antigua and 185 miles east-southeast of Barbuda, with maximum sustained winds of 185 MPH. The storm is moving west at 14 MPH.
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and the VoIP Hurricane Net will activate later today. “Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again!’” quipped HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Just as Harvey rapidly intensified overnight, Irma did the same.”
The HWN will activate at 1800 UTC (2 PM EDT) on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz and will remain in continuous operation until further notice, Graves said. Daytime operation will begin at 1100 UTC each day continuing for as long as propagation allows. Operation on 7.268 MHz will start at 2200 UTC and continue overnight. “If propagation dictates, we will operate both frequencies at the same time,” Graves said. The HWN marks its 52nd anniversary this week.
He noted that HWN operation on 7.268 MHz will pause at 1130 UTC, and, if required, resume at approximately 1230 UTC, to allow the Waterway Net to conducts its daily net.
The VoIP Hurricane Net has announced plans to activate no later than 2200 UTC on Tuesday; WX4NHC at the NHC will activate at 2200 UTC on Tuesday. Both the HWN and the VoIP Hurricane Network relay hurricane “ground-truth” information to the NHC to assist forecasters. Any Amateur Radio operators in the affected area of Irma or with relays into the affected area of Irma are asked to provide surface and damage reports into the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center.
Any SKYWARN Nets active as Irma moves into Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands that can pass reports to the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC are asked to designate a net liaison or connect directly to the *WX_TALK* EchoLink conference node: 7203/IRLP 9219. Stations on All-Star can connect to the Echolink side of the system by dialing *033007203.
IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, has compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has not yet announced plans to activate, but SATERN is encouraging its operators to start monitoring the HWN. On Wednesday, September 6, the International SATERN SSB Net will move to a Delta II (extended monitoring) status from 1400 until 2300 UTC. SATERN National Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, said that schedule could hold through the end of the week. Stations on the net will seek information on emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic; situation and hurricane damage, and communication disruptions. SATERN will not accept health-and-welfare inquiries.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that several FEMA Regions will activate the 5 MHz/60-meter band interoperability frequencies in support of a possible response to Hurricane Irma on September 5.
These suppressed-carrier reference frequencies, also known as dial frequencies or window frequencies, 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz, may be used as part of the event.
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