2017 Training Archive

2017 Training Archive

    1. ABCs of Temporary Emergency Power
    2. Agora
    3. American Red Cross New Training
    4. Columbia University Center for Disaster Preparedness Online Training
    5. 2017 Severe Weather Symposium
    6. Raspberry PI
    7. Arduino
    8. ICS and NIMS Training
    9. 2017 All-Ohio Section ARES Conference
    10. FEMA NTED
    11. Check your power sources!
    12.  IS Training Certificates/CARVE Training
    13. FEMA Online Training Updates
    14. National Preparedness Course Catalog
    15. Hamvention 2017 Friday Forums
    16. Hamvention 2017 Saturday and Sunday Forums
    17. ARDEN at Hamvention 2017
    18. Ohio Responds
    19.  VOAD
    20. Tropical Storm Cindy/Preparedness
    21. Communications Backup Plans
    22. FEMA Operational Communications
    23. FEMA EMI Weekly e-Forums
    24. Hawaii Civil Defense Preparations
    25. FirstNet
    26. ARRL Emergency Communications Courses
    27. Eclipse Preparations
    28. Eclipse Lessons Learned
    29.  Houston: Evacuation vs Shelter in Place
    30. Hurricane Watch Net
    31. 2200 and 630 Meter Bands becoming available
    32. California Wild Fires
    33. NIMS 3rd Edition
    34. Buyer Beware
    35. NIMS National Qualification System
    36. ARES Membership Considerations
    37. Exercising Go kits
    38. Public Speaking for Amateur Radio
    39. National Weather Service Online Weather School

1. ABCs of Temporary Emergency Power

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute has released a new two hour online course on electrical generators.  The ABCs of Temporary Emergency Power is course IS-815 on the EMI Independent Study list.

The course includes information on selecting a generator’s size, installing a temporary generator, maintaining a generator while in use, disconnecting a generator and demobilizing a generator after its use.

Remember, you must first obtain a FEMA Student Identification Number at https://cdp.dhs.gov/femasid to take any FEMA course.  Once you have an SID, go to https://training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx to start IS-815.

2. Agora

Regular net attendees will not be surprised to discover that I’ve stumbled across yet another emergency training site.  The United Nations Children’s Fund has established Agora, a training web portal for their staff and those of other Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGOs.  Most courses of interest here are related to emergencies involving children.

The first course I took was Psychosocial Support Programming, which complemented my previous training in Psychological First Aid.  I’ve also registered for one involving persons with disabilities.

Registration and training for us NGO types (Red Cross, ARES, etc.) is free at https://agora.unicef.org .  After you complete your registration, the site will send a link to your email address.  Using that link, login and go to the Catalogue button to search for appropriate training opportunities.  Please note that it took me a while to get accustomed to using the catalogue’s filters.  Courses that you sign up for appear under the Backpack button, so be sure to practice using it as well.

3. American Red Cross New Training

The American Red Cross is directing all of its disaster volunteers and paid staff to complete several revised Red Cross core courses over the next few months.  These courses should soon be available online through the new EDGE training website, and will also be conducted in classroom sessions on March 23-5 at the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Regional Training Institute in Cincinnati.  If you took any of these courses prior to January 1, 2016, as I did, you are expected to retake them due to more recent changes.

The required courses are:

  1. Disaster Cycle Services: An Overview
  2. Everyone is Welcome – Disability Integration
  3. Psychological First Aid
  4. Concept of Operations Overview
  5. Shelter Fundamentals, or

Recovery Services Fundamentals

To reach the EDGE training site, sign in to or register at the American Red Cross Volunteer Connection website, https://volunteerconnection.redcross.org/ .  From the VC home page, click on the EDGE button on the upper right hand corner.

4. Columbia University Center for Disaster Preparedness Online Training

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York City offers free two-hour courses and webinars in many topics of use to ARES members.  You must register first at http://ncdp.crlctraining.org/ .

There are about 40 courses and webinars to choose from at this time, many connected to Public Health. Some are quite specialized in medical, dental or mental health fields, but courses on social media and various risk topics are more general in nature.

So if you’ve ever wanted to attend Columbia University and receive course completion certificates to prove it register at the internet address above and get started!

5. 2017 Severe Weather Symposium

Every year I urge attendance at The Ohio State University Meteorology Club’s annual Severe Weather Symposium.  This free event brings leaders in the severe weather field to Columbus for a day of talks and visual presentations.

The 21st Symposium is scheduled for all day on Friday, March 24, 2017 at the US Bank Conference Center in the Ohio Union at the OSU campus.  Planned speakers include Dr. Greg Forbes from The Weather Channel, as well as representatives from the Storm Prediction Center, the National Severe Storms LaboratoryNational Weather Service offices, Van Wert EMA Director Rick McCoy and Jay Farlow, W9LW.  Keep in mind that in past years weather conditions have forced several speakers to cancel their appearances.

There is a parking fee, currently $12.50 per day, for the Ohio Union South Garage.  Symposium preregistration is recommended at the following website: http://u.osu.edu/metclub/ .

6. Raspberry PI

I ran into our District Emergency Coordinator on Monday evening and he was concerned that our programs might be drifting too far from ARES topics.  So let’s try to get back on track.

The Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive but powerful microcomputer that some hams are adopting for amateur radio use.  There are many operating systems available, most Linux based but a stripped down version of Windows 10 will run on one.

It has become a popular device for scratch built automated weather stations, which have SkyWarn applications.  Other hams use the Pi for D-StarEcholink, RTTY and APRS projects.  Still others use them for Software Defined Radio and WSPR experiments.

Raspberry Pi motherboards and accessories are available from area vendor MCM, on Amazon and from many other sources.  Raspberry Pi projects crop up daily, so rather that list websites I’d suggest just plugging Raspberry Pi into your favorite search engine.  For Raspberry Pi basic information, go to https://raspberrypi.org .  We will take up competitor Arduino during a later program.

7. Arduino

Last Wednesday we discussed the Raspberry Pi computers and some applications of value to ARES members.  Tonight our topic is another inexpensive computer – the Arduino.  Arduino computers are used to construct projects similar, but not identical, to the Raspberry Pi.

Something I forgot to mention last week was that books have been published to help users of both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi program and build projects for these devices.  Some books are even Amateur Radio specific.  The ARRL at www.arrl.org/arrl-store and Amazon at www.amazon.com sell these titles, as do other vendors.

Back to the Arduino, some projects identified that might have ARES applications include antenna switches, an APRS tracker, beacon controllers and a software defined radio.  Vendors of Arduino and its accessory boards include MCM in Springboro and Amazon online.

8. ICS and NIMS Training

Ohio District 3 ARES Program for Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Every week Scott, N8SY, our ARRL Ohio Section Manager, sends out news to subscribers within the section.  And each time he asks Ohio ARES members to send him copies of completion certificates from FEMA Independent Study courses IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800.

IS-100 and 200 explain the fundamentals of the Incident Command System, or ICS.  IS-700 gives the basics of the National Incident Management System, or NIMS.  And IS-800 lays out the National Response Framework.  All responders to emergencies and disasters are now expected to be familiar with this training.  This is a legal liability issue for any agency and individual placed in charge of such incidents.

On the Ohio Section ARES pages http://arrl-ohio.org/SEC/default.html the section maintains a roster of ARES members who have sent copies of their certificates.  As of today roughly 65 District 3 ARES members have shared their training with him, mostly from Montgomery County.

Please go to https://cdp.dhs.gov/femasid/register for a FEMA Student ID number, then to https://training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx to take this training.  Then email copies of the certificates to your county EC, your DEC w8lly@arrl.net and your Section Manager n8sy@n8sy.com .


9. 2017 All-Ohio Section ARES Conference

For those who maintain a calendar of events, ARRL Ohio Section Manager Scott, N8SY reports that an All-Ohio Section ARES conference is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Marion Technical College / Ohio State University Marion campus in Marion. Ohio.  Exact location and program details are not yet available.

All Emergency Coordinators, Assistant Emergency Coordinators and regular ARES members are welcome.  The conference leadership has requested that those planning to attend please register in advance at the following address: http://arrl-ohio.org/SEC/form.html  .


It’s been a while since we mentioned the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Training & Education Division (NTED) course catalog. The current edition, dated 20 March 2017, contains 379 pages of free training being offered primarily to state and local government entities.

Buried within the catalog are a number of courses whose numbers end in a “W”.  These are online offerings, and about 25 of them are available to ARES members who have obtained the previously mentioned FEMA Student Identification Number, or SID.  If you happen to be a sworn member of the law enforcement community, several more of these “W” courses are open to you.  A dozen of these courses relate to cyber security, which should interest many hams using the internet.

Anyway, to download the latest edition of the NTED catalog, go to https://www.firstrespondertraining.gov/ and follow the link near the upper right of the home page.

11. Check your power sources!

In my 25 years as a ham I’ve had a few failures when it comes to emergency preparedness.  In my case, they have generally involved power supply issues.

My Icom 4-band handheld has had rather poor luck when it comes to battery packs.  Although I use it just a few times each year, two of the rechargeable packs have failed in under 5 years each.  I thought I’d gotten smart when I bought a pack for it that took 6 ordinary AA cells, but a set I left in that pack leaked on me, ruining it after just one year.  My 4th pack for this radio is working out just fine, but those false starts had me worried.

My first handheld, a 2 meter Alinco, had a different power supply problem.  I guess I left the external DC supply plugged in too long, because the outer contact eventually no longer closed, so the power never left my charged pack to energize the radio.  It probably would have worked if I had replaced the power jack, but one look told me that replacing the entire radio made more sense than trying to repair that thing!

How often do you check your radio power sources?

12. IS Training Certificates/CARVE Training

Scott, N8SY, the ARRL Ohio Section Manager notes in his current newsletter that 500 Ohio ARES members have now documented that they have completed IS-100, 200, 700 and 800, the four FEMA courses requested of us.  Of course, that means that there are many more Ohio ARES members who have not completed them or not submitted copies of their training certificates to their EC and to n8sy@arrl.org .  Enough said about that!

I recently learned about a new free online course for those who wish to continue with optional training opportunities.  Community-led Action in Response to Violent Extremism (CARVE), FEMA catalog #AWR-355-W, has been available for only two weeks.  Target audiences for this four hour course include community volunteers, which pretty well covers most ARES members.  Once enrolled, you have thirty days to complete this training.  To enroll, go to this University of Maryland website: https://umd-start.catalog.instructure.com/ .  Remember to have your FEMA Student ID number handy to start this or any other FEMA course.

13. FEMA Online Training updates

Earlier in April I downloaded the latest FEMA National Training and Education Division Course Catalog, dated 27 March 2017, from the www.firstrespondertraining.gov website.  I check this site for updates once a week, and I’ve noticed that it has been listed as down for maintenance ever since.

While this site is out of service, the many courses listed in the catalog are mostly still available.  The links to some of these are noted in my earlier programs on the district’s www.ohd3ares.org website under the headings Net Info/Training/Net Training Archive.

Also note that FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute Independent Study course list is still available at https://training.fema.gov/IS/ , so even if the NTED Catalog never returns there is still plenty of free training out there.

14. National Preparedness Course Catalog

Two weeks ago I mentioned that the www.firstrespondertraining.gov website had been down for maintenance for several weeks.  Well, it’s back in all its glory.

The online National Preparedness Course Catalog now lists over 700 FEMA courses of all types, with 211 of them online or distance learning opportunities.  In addition to the online catalog, you may download or print two smaller FEMA catalogs in .pdf format – the National Training and Education Division (NTED) catalog mentioned earlier this month, and a .pdf of State and Federal Sponsored courses.  I recommend downloading over printing, as these smaller catalogs are still many hundreds of pages.

Next week let’s tackle the list of Hamvention forums!

15. Hamvention 2017 Friday Forums

Last Wednesday I threatened to report on Hamvention forums relevant to ARES tonight, so here we go with three for Friday, May 19th.  When you arrive at Hamvention, check the published program for changes to this list.

Friday, at 9:15 AM in Room 2 Ross Merlin, the US Department of Homeland Security’s SHARES Program Manager will present the SHARES, or SHAred RESourcesForum on interoperability and backup communications among Federal agencies.

At 10:30 AM, following the SHARES forum in Room 2, Paul English, Army Military Auxiliary Radio System Program Manager, will moderate the MARS Forum along with Dave Stapchuk, Chief of Air Force MARS.  The will discuss how MARS presently supports the US Department of Defense missions.

At 1:15 PM in Forum Room 1, John Peterson with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications will host a Homeland Security Forum, including updates to Incident Command System Communications Unit training.

Next Wednesday we’ll do three more for Saturday and Sunday.

16. Hamvention 2017 Saturday and Sunday Forums

As previously threatened, here are some Saturday, May 20th and Sunday, May 21st Hamvention forums that may interest ARES members.

On Saturday morning at 9:15 AM in Forum Room 3 Bill Feist will lead the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network, or SATERN, forum.  The focus will be SATERN in the 21st Century.

At 1:30 PM in Room 2, Bill Curtice of the Miami Valley Mesh Alliance will moderate the forum on digital mesh networks.  He will host Andre Hansen of the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network Project.

Almost simultaneously, at 1:45 PM in Room 4 Mike Corey, the ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager, will host a forum featuring almost everyone we’ve previously mentioned for a brief overview of their disaster organizations.

Finally, on Sunday morning at 10:30 AM S. Ram Mohan of the National Institute of Amateur Radio in Hyderabad, India will present a program on disaster communications in Asia.

If you missed last week’s presentation on Friday forums, look for both of these at www.ohd3ares.org under Net Info/Training/Net Training Archive.

17. AREDN at Hamvention 2017

Last Wednesday we mentioned the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network in our discussion of the forums at Hamvention 2017.  In addition to their Saturday afternoon forum, the AREDN folks will present hourly mini classes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Hamvention Booth #1001 in Building 1.

Mini class topics include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Winlink 2000MeshChat, Video Tips and Network Planning.  Stop by Booth #1001 to view the latest schedule, which may include additional subjects.

For more about AREDN, visit their website at www.aredn.org .

18. Ohio Responds

Just before the beginning of Hamvention 2017 ARRL Ohio Section Manager Scott, N8SY and Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan, N8BHL worked out a deal to integrate Ohio ARES into the Ohio Responds database.  Some of you may have noticed the Ohio Responds booth in Hamvention Building/Tent 6.

Ohio Responds is managed by the Ohio Department of Health to track many of the volunteer staff needed to manage a major disaster in our state.  It tracks credentials and regional training opportunities for its participants, gives heads up on pandemics or other health issues, and probably does other stuff that I’ve missed!

In addition, it provides liability protection to members who take one approved training every three years, which may ease the minds of some potential Amateur Radio Good Samaritans.

In order to begin the application process, you must be on the ARRL Ohio Section IS-100/200/700/800 completion list.  Check here: http://arrl-ohio.org/SEC/special/nims_roster.html .  After that, go to http://arrl-ohio.org/ohio-responds-page.html for specific instructions on joining Ohio Responds as an Ohio ARES member.

19. VOAD

It is a fact, both fortunate and unfortunate, that Ohio District 3 ARES members rarely get called out to deal with incidents within their jurisdictions.

For example, last week Clark County experienced not one, but two damaging tornadoes simultaneously in Bethel Township.  Amateurs here participated in the SkyWarn activities, but were not activated for other purposes.

Bethel Township Fire/Rescue, along with several mutual aid departments, and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office handled the two scenes, while the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross briefly opened a shelter and started casework on several affected families.  But even this emergency was under control quickly, and ARES support was not requested.

So how does an Ohio District 3 ARES member gain practical disaster experience?  One way might be to affiliate with a member of Ohio Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD.    Just over fifty member organizations support incidents throughout Ohio, and one of them might be a good match for your religious preference, your skill set or your profession.

To learn more about Ohio VOAD, visit their website at https://ohvoad.communityos.org

20. Tropical Storm Cindy/Preparedness

As I am preparing tonight’s ARES program, Tropical Storm Cindy is expected to make landfall soon near the Louisiana-Texas border.  While the center of circulation of this storm is expected to pass to our south as a tropical depression, parts of District 3 may still receive a respectable amount of rain on Thursday and Friday.

So we’ve probably dodged a bullet with regards to Cindy, but there are still over five months left in the 2017 hurricane season.  Remnants of tropical systems can, and sometimes do, impact western Ohio.  In 2008 the winds left over from Hurricane Ike caused half a billion dollars in wind damage in Ohio alone.  Some Ohio residents were left without power for a week.

This brings us to some questions ARES leaders have asked you often in the past.  Are your backup batteries fully charged?  Have you tested your generator recently?  Is your go kit ready for action?  Do you even have a go kit?  Even if you don’t need this things for Thursday or Friday, they might come in handy for Field Day on Saturday and Sunday!

21. Communications Backup Plans

Well, internet access has been down for almost two weeks now at my Red Cross office. Repair work orders have been submitted, but to no avail so far. Much of what Red Cross Disaster Services does now requires the internet, so I’ve implemented a couple of backup plans to cover situations like my office is currently facing.

When I need Red Cross internet access during and immediately after regular business hours, I can use either my public library’s wi-fi or its customer computers. Should an after-hours emergency arise I’ve made arrangements to work out of the county emergency operations center, which also offers both wi-fi and in-house computer access.

It’s a good idea for ARES organizations and members to have backup plans as well. Do you have backup repeaters and/or simplex frequencies preselected? Does your county ARES have a continuity of operations plan should things go very, very wrong? Do all members know these backup arrangements?

It’s certainly something to consider while things are quiet around here!

22. FEMA Operational Communications

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently released a series of documents to build and sustain Core Capabilities for disaster response. One of these of interest to ARES is Operational Communications.

This document suggests five FEMA courses as training examples, including: Public Information and WarningAmateur Radio ResourcesEffective CommunicationManaging Public Information for All-Hazards Incidents and Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery.

The American Radio Relay League is specifically mentioned as a potential response partner, along with such other obvious choices as cellular and internet providers.

While a few suggested trainings are available online, most require the cooperation of county or state emergency management agencies in the application process. To view this and other Core Capability Development Sheets, go to www.fema.gov/fema-technical-assistance-program .

23. FEMA EMI Weekly e-Forums

FEMA Emergency Management Institute


Weekly EMI e-Forums

Wednesdays in August 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. EDT

 EMI e-Forums are 1-hour, moderated, webinar discussion forums that provide an opportunity for EMI and the emergency management community to discuss matters of interest on national preparedness training. EMI e-Forums facilitate a discussion of whole community-presented best practices.  The panel members are whole community, with topics relevant to whole community.  These exchanges of ideas are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to participate.

Read more in Training Bulletin 1327

Date:     Topic:

8/2     National Exercise Program:  Tales from States Who Participated

8/9     The Emergency Management Professional Program: Bringing the Whole Community Together

8/16    Public Information Officers:  Training Builds Capability We Are Proud Of

8/23    Improving Local Recovery:  Training as a Success Maker

8/30     State Training Officer and State Administrative Agent TPOC:Working Together Achieves Better Outcomes

Login link: https://fema.connectsolutions.com/emieforums

Our EMI e-Forums on Adobe Connect are mobile device accessible for those on the go. Click here for more info.

Conference call-in:  800-320-4330, PIN 107622

For questions, contact:  https://training.fema.gov/contactus/sendcomment.aspx

24. Hawaii Civil Defense Preparations

Hawaii has become the first state to respond to North Korea’s latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests.  Effective as soon as November of 2017, the siren tests Hawaii uses to warn people about major emergencies on the first workday of each month will include a second siren test specifically to indicate a possible nuclear attack.  Many jurisdictions in the United States once tested similar sirens, but discontinued them in the 70’s.

In addition, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency now recommends that all residents be prepared to shelter in place for up to fourteen days.  This means minimally maintaining a two week supply of food and drinking water at all times.

The water supply, one gallon per person per day, and most food items would have to be rotated through the stocks, because bottled water and foods expire after a few years.  Most sources recommend a three day supply of these items at this time.  Should we be rethinking that?

25. FirstNet

I think that we have briefly mentioned FirstNet in the past, but there have been a few recent developments that bear watching.   

The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, was established by Congress in 2012 to better integrate first responder activities in times of emergency.  Using $7 billion and part of the 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet contractor AT&T is building a nationwide network of public safety communications facilities.  Each state can participate or opt out, and seven states, including neighboring states Kentucky and West Virginia, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have already opted in.  Ohio and Indiana have not as of today.  States have a mid-December deadline to decide. 

FirstNet is expected to offer more system integration that Ohio MARCS, our current statewide public safety system.  MARCS works well for voice traffic, and computer communications are possible as well.  But as a broadband service FirstNet plans to offer video capability, GIS and quite a bit more. 

For the latest FirstNet updates, visit their website at www.firstnet.gov .


26. ARRL Emergency Communications Courses

 Let’s revisit a few emergency management related courses offered by the American Radio Relay League, or ARRL.  New Amateur Radio Emergency Services members and hams who do not belong to the ARRL may not be familiar with these ham radio specific training opportunities.

Introduction to Emergency Communication, course EC-001, is open to any amateur radio operator.  The cost depends on whether you are an ARRL member or not.  There are also two prerequisite Federal Emergency Management Agency courses – IS-100 (online version) or ICS-100 (classroom version) and IS-700 (online only).  Evidence of completion must be supplied at the time you register.
Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs, course EC-016, is free to certain ARRL members only.  While any ham may be an ARES member, you must also be an ARRL member to hold an ARES appointment as an EC, DEC, SEC, etc.  There are additional prerequisites and recommended courses associated with this advanced course, and there is a fee to take the course completion test.
ARRL Public Relations, course EC-015, is a free course useful for hams with Public Information Officer, or PIO, aspirations.  For more information on these three courses, visit www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog .


27. Eclipse Preparations

This may come as a surprise to some of us, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross are preparing for disasters associated with next Monday’s total solar eclipse.  The Red Cross has already issued Disaster Response, or DR, numbers for each state within the Path of Totality, and budgeted funds for those events. 

Red Cross shelters are on standby in case people are stuck in traffic jams on major eclipse routes, and some amateur radio organizations have also been placed in standby mode in case the cellular and landline networks fail due to temporary overloads along the Path of Totality.  A few responders have even been issued cell phones programmed for the Department of Homeland Security‘s Wireless Priority Service, or WPS, and Government Emergency Telephone Service, or GETS.  WPS phones and GETS cards give users priority access to cellular sites and landlines.
By the way, don’t toss out your eclipse glasses after August 21st.  Another total solar eclipse will impact the Miami Valley on April 8, 2024, with much of the valley in the Path of Totality!


28. Eclipse Lessons Learned

My eclipse adventure took place in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, just northwest of Hopkinsville – the point of maximum totality.  We had a few seconds less totality there, but the friendly crowd in the village square was in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands as in Hopkinsville. 

It was a great opportunity to view the potential for emergencies from the inside, and I was impressed by the resiliency of the infrastructure – except, of course for the Interstate Highway System! 

Cellular service was impacted by the influx of visitors.  Video and photos were slow, if they arrived at all.  Text messages and even voice calls seemed little affected, so I chose to not remove my handy Government Emergency Telecommunications Service card from the car.  

Fuel and food were readily available despite warnings to top off tanks beforehand and bring your own meals.  There were few traffic issues on the way to the path of totality, but the trip back was another story entirely.  We took three hours to get from Louisville to Dawson Springs and over six to return to Louisville afterwards!  Should you ever need to evacuate a city in a hurry, consider using state routes or back roads to get away, as Interstate Highways first and U.S. routes next become temporary parking lots. 

On the way back to Louisville I spoke to no less than four different amateurs on 146.52 simplex.  My girlfriend was so impressed with the help they offered that she is finally considering a ham license! 

As an additional note, all of District 3 will be in the path of the totality of the eclipse occurring in 2024

29. Houston: Evacuation vs Shelter in Place

Mayor Turner of Houston, Texas has taken heat for failing to order evacuations in advance of Hurricane Harvey.  But we only have to go back one week to see why he made the proper decision. 

It took me just three hours by Interstate to get to the path of totality for last Monday’s solar eclipse, but six hours to return to my point of origin later that day.  The number of vehicles heading away from the eclipse path overwhelmed the Interstate Highway System in dozens of places, turning it into clusters of temporary ten–mile-long parking lots! 

That was the result of a few hundred thousand vehicles heading in the same direction.  The Houston Metro area has four million residents.  Can you imagine a million vehicles trying to leave Houston all at once? 

The last time Houston attempted an evacuation, thousands were still on the roads when the storm struck.  It was not safe or pretty, and evacuees died on those Interstates.  While sheltering in place wasn’t completely safe, it was still the best call for the mayor of Houston to make. 

On an unrelated note, FEMA‘s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama has cancelled all scheduled classes for the next few weeks in order to train federal workers for Harvey recovery, which shouldn’t take more than ten years or so. 

Next week – back to ham radio topics! 

30. Hurricane Watch Net

What a difference a week makes!  Last Wednesday Hurricane Harvey was mentioned in most of the major news stories.  Today three newer storms, Irma, Jose and Katia, have moved it off of the front pages. 

Hurricane Irma is today’s big story.  The Hurricane Watch Net went up again yesterday after a week’s rest, and may stay up for much of September!  The HWN comes up as hurricanes approach land.  Its job is to feed weather information from the affected area into the National Hurricane Center to help improve their reports.  It is not usually involved in disaster response, but provides Hurricane Center updates if time permits. 

The Net operates on or near 14,325 kHz USB during daylight hours, and on or near 7,268 kHz LSB at night.  To learn more about this net, visit www.hwn.org .

31. 2200 and 630 Meter Bands becoming available

In a few weeks the United States Amateur Radio community will have two new bands to play with.  On 2200 Meters hams will be able to use 135.7 to 137.8 kHz at one watt Effective Isotropic Radiated Power, or EIRP, maximum.  And on 630 Meters we will have 472 to 479 kHz available at up to five watts EIRP. 

A unique condition prior to using either of these bands is that the Federal Communications Commission requires us to register our intentions with the Utilities Technology Council at https://utc.org/plc-database-amateur-notification-process/ .  If you don’t hear back from the UTC in thirty days you are good to go. 

Will these new allocations have any practical use in emergency communications? I guess we will all find out together in the coming months and years! 

Additional:  These bands are available to General, Advanced and Extra class licensees.  Many general coverage receivers can receive these frequencies, but transmitters are likely to be a build it yourself proposition for the near future.

32. California Wild Fires

The focus of disaster responders is rapidly shifting to the West Coast this week, as multiple wildfires combined with Santa Ana winds are torturing tens of thousands of California residents.  See the state fire response website fire.ca.gov for updates.  

Some of the issues associated with the hurricane landfalls are also showing up in California.  Large numbers of cellular sites are being taken offline by melted fiberoptic links, power loss and cell towers bent over by high fire temperatures and wind! 

Pacific Gas and Electric is deenergizing electric circuits ahead of the fire lines for the safety of first responders, as well as turning off natural gas pipelines to destroyed neighborhoods. 

While the stories of amateur radio participation here have not yet surfaced, I’m sure they are supporting some of the first responders.  Unfortunately, other hams are probably victims of these fires as well, as entire neighborhoods in Northern California have burned to the foundations.

33. NIMS 3rd Edition

The Third Edition of the National Incident Management System, or NIMS, dated October 2017, has been released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  This 133-page document, last updated in 2008, applies to all incidents regardless of size, nature, complexity or location within the United States. 

This new NIMS edition incorporates updates from lessons learned at incidents and exercises since the Second Edition.  It impacts any and all incident personnel, including those at incident command posts, emergency operations centers, staging areas, medical facilities, etc.

FEMA plans to host a series of one-hour webinars in the future to answer NIMS-related questions. For a copy of the new NIMS edition and webinar information, go to the following web page: https://www.fema.gov/national-incident-management-system .

And by the way, compliance with NIMS is the reason that ARES leadership regularly asks its members to take online FEMA Independent Study courses IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800, available at https://training.fema.gov . 

34. Buyer Beware

There are many legitimate organizations providing services and training for emergency management and homeland security.  But there are also a few that have a certain aroma.  Something about them just doesn’t smell quite right. 

In 2013 I received a colorful brochure in a mailing from the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security, or ABCHS.  It was promoting memberships, training and certifications through their board, supposedly started in 2003. 

Their Certified in Homeland Security, or CHS, credential was a series of five levels, with CHS-V being the ultimate goal.  Professional memberships are often costly, and this was no exception. 

I noticed a couple of red flags when I first received the mailing.  First, the web address was a business .com website – not a non-profit .org or an educational .edu site.  But sometimes non-profits use commercial websites for one legal reason or another. 

 Second, the names on their list of officers and board members were not familiar to me.  If I were new to the field this would not be a deal killer, but I’d been around emergency management for twenty years by 2013. 

So today I tried to reach their website through Explorer and Chrome with no results.  They made thousands of dollars from folks before they disappeared.

35. NIMS National Qualification System

 A few weeks back we mentioned that the main National Incident Management System, or NIMS, document has been updated.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also updated NIMS Resource Management Supplemental Guidance and Tools as well. 

Most of this stuff refers to incident management job titles, descriptions and qualifications.  Some have been around for years, but others are new to NIMS.

Three sets of these tools may be of particular interest to some ARES members.  The Communications Unit Leader, or COM-L has overall responsibility over communications at a major incident.  A Communications Technician works under the COM-L to repair and maintain and program incident communications systems.

A new set of tools that may be of interest to ARES members who hold B.S. degrees in a science or engineering field is the Science and Technology Adviser.  This person offers guidance to the incident management decision makers at HazMat or other science or technology related incidents.

For detailed information about these and other NIMS positions, go to www.fema.gov/national-qualification-system . 

36. ARES Membership Considerations

Are you a member of more than one county ARES organization?  Many amateurs live, work and play in different counties, so it seems likely that a few of us may be registered with more than one ARES jurisdiction.  Earlier this week, SEC Stan Broadway stated that ARES members are encouraged to volunteer for any activities that strike their fancy, but are requested to be on the ARES roster of just one county. 

If you stop to think about this a while, it does make sense.  Showing up on multiple rosters inflates the number of ARES volunteers potentially available, as well as possibly inflating the hours served if reported to more than one EC.  While not a problem during local emergencies, it becomes more of an issue during regional, state or national disasters.  The 10,000 hams rostered in Ohio ARES might be just 5,000 live bodies if we eliminate such duplications. 

Do you desire an ARES appointed position, such as EC, DEC, SEC or Official Emergency Station?  While any licensed amateur is encouraged to be an active ARES member, you must also be an American Radio Relay League member to be considered for any of the ARES appointments mentioned above. 

37. Exercising Go Kits

Now that all of us have Go-Kits, have you ever thought about exercising yours?  It seems like a low-stress opportunity to see how well you selected your kit’s contents.  Consider bringing your kit along on your next visit to relatives for the holidays.   

If your kit includes water, did you leave expansion room in the water container in case that water temporarily turns to ice?  If not, things could get ugly indeed in your trunk when that ice melts!  Did you include enough emergency food rations?  If you finished off all of the energy bars in under three days of traveling the answer might be no. 

Did you try operating your handheld from a motel room only to discover that you omitted the BNC to SO-239 adaptor that lets you use any antenna other than the rubber duck? 

And, most importantly of all, did you remember enough extra clean underwear and socks?  One of my most vivid disaster memories was talking with a police officer who didn’t have extras in a town where all laundry services were off line due to contamination issues.  Ouch!

38. Public Speaking for Amateur Radio

Have you ever made a presentation about ARES in particular or ham radio in general before any group of non-Amateurs?  Most members of the general population still don’t know the difference between Citizens Band radio operators and Amateur Radio operators, so it’s a good idea to share what we know outside of the ham community. 

Many hams are not comfortable with public speaking – even in front of a small audience.  This morning I joined two Red Cross employees for a ninety-minute presentation on emergency preparedness and Citizen CPR.  We spoke to forty Springfield, Ohio six–graders and were very pleased with the outcome.  Kids will listen carefully for mistakes and call you out if you make one, but are impressed by folks who know their subject well. 

If you would like to give public speaking for Amateur Radio a try, FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute has a free online course for you.  At https://training.fema.gov look for IS-242.b, Effective Communication.

39. National Weather Service Online Weather School

Most of the training opportunities I’ve mentioned over the past few years have involved a registration process with some governmental or non-governmental entity.  Today’s featured site has no such requirement. 

 JetStream is the National Weather Service Online Weather School.  There is no cost to use the training materials, and registration is not required.  The site is designed for anyone interested in weather related subjects. 

I found well over a hundred choices in the site’s topic matrix, and you can pick and choose without taking all of the preceding topics in your particular area of interest.  To look over the choices or get started on a topic, visit weather.gov/jetstream .  

Return to Net Training Archive Page