The ARRL CEO, Tom Gallagher, recently talked about the assistance amateur radio provided in the recovery efforts of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Gallagher stated that the ARRL sent 25 radio kits, which was set up quickly and out the door and on a plane within 72 hours or so of the request. He stated the Red cross has never asked for help from the ARRL before in this magnitude and the ARRL got over 300 volunteers in about 12 hours and 50 operators deployed within days of the request. One of the requirements for this deployment was to be familiar with HF and Winlink.
A major airline moved all of the ARRL equipment to Atlanta where the volunteers linked up with the equipment and flew to the deployment area on a Jet Blue flight. According to Gallagher, the volunteers are basically doing 4 jobs :
- Moving Health and Welfare traffic from San Juan back to the States over HF using Winlink, which is fast and reliable. Then entered into Safe wand well website
- Moving info around to the different shelters by having HF in the shelters and hospitals.
- Operating radios for police and first responders. Hams ride with police and use 2 meters to dispatch. Hams also provide communications for the utility companies.
- Helping dispatch both water and electricity as electricity and water comes back up. By providing communications for the water and electricity companies.
The ARRL raised about $110,000 for Ham Aid, which was created in 2005 in response to the need for equipment and resources to support the amateur radio response for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Ham Aid equipment is available on loan to Amateur Radio organizations during disaster response when communications equipment is unavailable.
Fox news did a good story about amateur radio and how it is helping today. See the link below titles:
Ham radio: Old technology gets new respect
The video below is of ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher interview with Dr. Bob Heil on Twit TV.
ARRL: Puerto Rico-Caribbean Recovery
Mexico activated their Red HF net that had HF, VHF, UHF capabilities along with Winlink to assist with the recovery of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on September 19th 2017 that devastated the region about 100Km form Mexico City. With the Internet being spotty to non existent, they used the Winlink network for sending and receiving email on HF with pactor on the 20 and 40 meter bands to a gateway in Texas.
Hawaii will be sending an operator, Norm, NH7UA, to Oregon to participate in their ARES SET on October 14th. It is an opportunity to learn about other ARRL Sections’ planning, training and execution of ARRL SETs.
On October 21st the Hawaii ARES will conduct the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) in two parts. Some changes have been made based on lessons learned in recent natural disasters in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean
This year’s SET is primarily focused on a simulated tsunami event with amateur stations reporting inundation and material damage reports. This is priority traffic to be simulated as Part I of the exercise from 08:00 to 13:00, Saturday Oct 21st.
Normally 72-hours after an event occurs, government communications are restored and Amateur stations can assist in other ways, such as handling health and welfare traffic that cannot be handled by government agencies.
The recent major events in FL, PR, TX and Mexico have raised attention for the need to be prepared to assist in high volume of “Health and Welfare” traffic that is being handled via the Red Cross on their “Safe and Well” web site,
Part II of the Pacific Section 2017 SET will simulate Hawaii stations passing Winlink traffic for a simulated posting to the Red Cross web site by a State of Oregon Amateur Radio station KF7RSF. The SET simulation assumes stations participating have lost Internet access and must forward “Safe and Well” messages for web site posting by KF7RSF.
Even if an amateur station does not yet have HF or VHF access to Winlink, you are encouraged to participate using a Telnet connection (Using Internet) to Winlink. This is our first use of Winlink in an SET exercise in Hawaii. We want to encourage amateurs to develop Winlink skills, just installing the software and using it to send and receive messages is a big step toward expanding the digital skill level of our pool of our trained amateurs.
Please consider participating via Internet even if your radio equipment is not yet digital capable.
The following YouTube video is an excellent tutorial on how to install Winlink RMS Express, including how to send and receive messages. It does not require thatyou have digital radio equipment, e.g. a Pactor modem or Signalink sound card.
The ARRL President, Rick Roderick, K5UR, stated that “Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left paths of destruction and catastrophic flooding that will impact the lives of people throughout the southeast U.S. and Caribbean for years to come. Throughout these disasters, our trained ham radio volunteers, and especially those in coordinating roles, have helped us meet the requests of our partner agencies and organizations.”