Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dale's Tales for October

Greetings everyone, welcome to "Dale's Tales" for October 2017.

NEWS: Our ARRL Headquarters staff has been on top of activities to extend communications support to our fellow citizens in the hurricane-damaged areas of the Caribbean.  You have read of the Red Cross asking for 50 ham radio volunteers to serve in Puerto Rico for three weeks, you have read of the multiple packages of Ham-Aid equipment prepared and shipped to assist in these devastated areas.  

Note especially Tom's Comments:

TOM'S COMMENTS:  Comments from our Vice Director Tom Delaney W8WTD

When the first of many disasters hit a few weeks ago, I began thinking about disaster response and what I could say.  Having spent many years on planning committees, I was reminded at the time of the saying that we are best prepared for the “last” disaster, meaning that we know what we did last time, and would be more than familiar with what it would take to stage the same response.  The problem, of course, is that disasters don’t often repeat themselves, or they come with strange twists we haven’t seen before.
From what I can tell, in the Texas and Florida disasters, a different kind of communication was taking place.  Devastating as the hurricanes were, they didn’t affect communications infrastructure so much, and people were using “social media” in all sorts of new ways.  So the hams had to adapt, and for many, the usual 2-meter FM communications as the only local communications was not the case.  They responded, but didn’t seem to be as needed.

Up here in the Division, we’re not likely to see those kinds of disasters.   While we need to be ready for anything, we need to learn from what else has gone on.  Those of us who have been involved in disaster communications know what needs to be done, but it is all going to depend on what the needs are. And that’s going to change from situation to situation.  We need our new technologies, because they’ll be helpful.  Let’s remember that it’s not the internet that goes down, it’s local access to the internet.  So if we have ways to work around that, we will still be able to communicate when others can’t.

But now there’s Puerto Rico.  Back to nothing, and ham radio steps in.

You have probably seen that over 50 hams from around the country volunteered through ARRL at the request of Red Cross to go in and basically set up some ham communications where there are none left.  We wish them the best.  Many of us would have liked to go, but for various personal reasons, could not volunteer.  What’s there for us to do?

Well, let’s keep the HF frequencies they need clear for them.  And if you can spare a few bucks or
more, donate to Ham Aid.  You’ll find a link of the main ARRL web page.

On the one hand, disaster communications is simple.  Provide help where needed.  In practice, it is often a balance between need and available resources.  What can we do to help?  If it’s not just what we trained for, there may still be something else we’re good at that we can bring to help.  There’s an SET coming up.  Practice is essential.  We may not be doing the same things in a real disaster, but if we’ve practiced, we know our gear works and we can figure out the needs of the moment.

73, Tom W8WTD Vice Director, Great Lakes Division

What more can be said?   Ham radio is doing what we do so very well.  We can get on the air when other systems fail, because we know how to do it!  Our Field Day and DX-peditioning experience pays off.   Our ARES, NTS, QRP, DX and Work-it-through-the-doggone-QRM operating experience pays off.  Our technical expertise and our hang-the-antenna in the wind, snow, rain or sleet, experience pays off.

This emergency is ongoing, and will remain so for months to come.

People are hurting and they need our help.  Please consider what you can do; in a big way or a small way, we need to step up to assisting.  If you cannot help via ham radio, perhaps you can assist financially, or through a material donation.  Speak with your community officials, Red Cross, Salvation Army or similar civic organization, but please lend a hand. 

This is a proud moment for amateur radio, one not to be overlooked.

These major disasters will cause many of us to renew our interests in emergency communications and renew our skills in that area. And, surely as I sit here, in three years, much of the current interest will have waned because we soon forget the details of what happened.  You have seen it happen, I have seen it happen, we humans trend towards complacency.   Yet we must change our thinking, we need to remember the lessons learned and prepare ourselves for the times we will be needed again.  Let's all look ahead and practice with our ARES groups, train for disaster deployment, prepare for dealing with potential threats and stay at it.  Look at our Simulated Emergency Test After-Action-Reviews (you do review, don't you?) and refine all of our methods and procedures.  We need to reduce, actually, we need to eliminate our complacency and remember, each of could face a disaster as serious as those faced today by our friends in Puerto Rico, Dominica and the US Virgin Islands.

GREAT LAKES HAMCON: it just is a week away.   Check out the details and schedules on the webpage at GLHAMCON.ORG and plan to join us for this inaugural event.  As a resident in the Great Lakes Division, this truly is your Convention and Hamfest.  Last month's Dale's Tales highlighted all 16 of the forums and the other planned events.  Join us on October 7 & 8 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI!!

HAMFESTING:  Of special note to all of our Hamfest Chairpersons: be certain to open and examine the package your group receives from ARRL Headquarters.  It is addressed to you, be sure you open it as soon as it is received.

We have approximately 65 ARRL hamfests each year in the Division.  I do encourage each Hamfest Chair to register early for ARRL Sanctioning.  Be sure to invite your ARRL Officials as soon as your date is set.  Here is the current Great Lakes Division ARRL Sanctioned Hamfest Schedule covering the remainder of 2017.  These swaps have received their sanctioning approval from ARRL HQ at the time of this publication. 

10/7/17         Cave Run Hamfest                       Moorehead, KY
10/7/17         Vette City                                     Bowling Green, KY
10/7 & 8       Great Lakes Div. Convention      Brooklyn, MI
10/7/17         Scioto Valley                               Chillicothe OH
10/15/17       Conneaut Hamfest                       Conneaut, OH
10/21/17       Muskegon Color Tour                 Muskegon, MI
10/22/17       Kalamazoo                                   Kalamazoo, MI
10/28/17       Hazard                                          Hazard, KY
10/29/17       Massilon                                       Massilon, OH
10/29/17       USECA                                         Madison Hts, MI
11/4/17         Grant ARC Hamfest                     Georgetown, OH
12/3/17         Lanse Creuse                                Madison Heights, MI

Be sure to check your Section's news pages for the latest local happenings, club and net information.

73, Let's be radio-active.

Dale Williams WA8EFK
Great Lakes Division