Category Archives: PWCARES

January Training Update

For those unable to join us on Saturday, January 15, 2022, here are the highlights from the meeting.

The slides are available at HaikuDeck if you want to review.

We covered the past actions with the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office. They appreciate us being there as an extra set of eyes on the course, and of course, we get the practice. We also support Willing Warriors. They have two primary events at the moment – Vettes for Vets and the Warrior Bike Ride, a series of metric century, 25 mile, and 13 mile fun ride. And finally we participated in Field Day both in 2000, and 2021, and we thank Prince William County for their support both times.

We have some upcoming events. The first event is Saturday, March 26, 2022 – the MCM Crossroads 17.75 which will be held at Prince William Forest Park. More details as we get closer to the event. Please make sure to check the ARES calendar at https://www.pwcares.org. It is a public Google calendar and you can subscribe to it.

We answered the question What does ARES mean to you? to help us all level set. Here is the word cloud from that exercise:

We also answered the question What does the EC do? Here is the word cloud:

David, KG4GIY had some commentary on some of the responses.

Erv, the prior EC for Prince William once told David that the EC is an emergency coordinator, not an emergency communicator. As Greg, KM4CCG, mentioned in his Field Day review:

and it should be noted that we managed to get David on HF1!

Hearding Cats: This is an old consulting joke, but is very applicable to volunteer management. We all come from different places and different life experience, and getting volunteers to do things in the same direction is a challenge. When David, as EC asks the Cadre to take training it is not because David wants us to take it, but because one of our served agencies want us to take it, or FEMA wants us to take it so Prince William County can be reimbursed, or because the Federal Government wants us to take the training, again so the county can be reimbursed. PWCARES maintains a Training page with all the current training requirements.

Never Leaves: David has been the EC for twenty-one years, this April. That is a long time to lead an organization, and David expressed his desire to not be the EC for the next twenty years. He asks the Cadre to ponder what it wants in its next EC and who might be able to fill the road. This is not an immediate need, but we need to start succession planning. It was pointed out by Jack, WC4J and others that the EC also has to be able to talk to the senior management at our served agencies, not just be able to understand the technobabble, or geek speak that might only be useful for technologists.

Our workshop revolved around what should be in your go-kit in a post-Covid world. The obvious addition is PPE (mask, gloves, hand-sanitizer). Most of the items we already consider for our kit have not changed significantly. David will update the Preparedness page over the next few weeks to include some of the items identified.

Please send any questions to the EC and he will respond as necessary.

A quick public service announcement. If you participate on a VTC, please remember to mute your microphone. We really don’t want to hear you eating.

Thanks for taking time out of your morning. Next training is Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 0900 at the EOC. Details will be sent closer to training day.

  1. This was the third or fourth time in 20 years that David has worked HF.

Field Day 2012 Photos

Thanks to John, KK4TCE & Dan, K4BCR for the photos.

The EC turns 20

I was appointed the Emergency Coordinator of the Prince William County ARES® in April of 2001.

In April of 2001, we still had the Twin Towers in New York. Bush II was President by Supreme Court decision (who can forget the dangling chad?), and ARES® as an organization was still doing fun runs and other charity walks because cell phone coverage was spotty at best. I took over from Erv (and I cannot even remember his last name or call sign – anyone, anyone?). Steve Frick, N4OGR (SK), was the assistant, and we were working through the Great Unpleasantness which we would eventually come out the other side, mostly unscathed.

And then, September 11 happened.

Suddenly Amateur Radio and ARES® were a thing. I spent the day in the driveway of my house, with two HTs in my hand and my daughter rolling a jiggle ball back and forth on the lawn. I did not do much because I did not even know where the EOC was, much less what we needed to do there. I would later spend the week coordinating Amateurs heading to help at the Pentagon, myself included. Shortly after that, the head of the communications unit, Captain Fred Miller, called me into a meeting. He had only one question – would I enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Prince William County. Of course, I said yes. We spend a couple of weeks going back and forth on the essential items, but the MOU was signed. The cadre evolved to become PWCARES. We stood up a website, an email list (reflector) and started recruiting. I appointed my Assistants appropriately. Two from Woodbridge, two from OVH, and two at large. And then work began.

We have participated in County exercises, City deployments, Hospital exercises, emergencies (floods and hurricanes), supported the Marine Corps Marathon Office events, 24-hour runs, bike races, and numerous walks.

In 2011, at the request of Manassas City, we mobilized seventy-seven amateurs from the National Capital Area over five days to support the city at five sites from sun up to sundown, supporting the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). We fed them, looked after their dogs (Emma loved it), and made sure that the messages got through despite incredible summer heat and rotten sandwiches (that the Red Cross provided – we served brisket that day). Volunteer Prince William wanted to crash the party. See our challenge coin page for more details.

We figured out how to get a signal out of a school, set up multiple Field Day events, and establish ourselves as Amateurs’ training ground in Northern Virginia. We practiced message sending on voice, digital, HF, VHF, eieio. We have adopted Incident Command System forms, processes, and procedures. Many of us have more FEMA certifications than active FEMA employees.

And we continue to grow.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my wife, Dianne, KI4FVV, and Hurricane Emma for their support. I would also like to say thank you to my Assistants, who have supported me or told me to sit down. A special thank you to Keith, KM4AA, who explicitly told me to go to bed (after 36 hours of operation during Hurricane/TS Isabel), and Trisha, KI4PCM. She noticed that hypothermia had set in during the inaugural 24-hour run.

My thanks to the PWCARES cadre that has followed my lead over the last twenty years challenged my assumptions and shown how an ARES® cadre can operate. While I do not expect to do this job for another twenty years, I look forward to at least the next five. Unless someone wants to step up and take over for me. Anyone? Anyone?

A Brief History of PWCARES

Who do we support

  • Prince William County (MOU 2003, MOU 2016)
  • Service Authority (MOU 2018)
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • Volunteer Organizations Active In Disasters (VOAD), Prince William Volunteer Action Centre
  • Community Emergency Response Team (Manassas/Manassas Park)
  • Marine Corps Marathon Program Office
  • Red Cross (National Capital Region)
  • Salvation Army

Our Qualifications

  • FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Operators (all levels)
  • National Incident Management Courses:
    • 100 (Introduction to the Incident Command System)
    • 200 (Basic Incident Management Command System)
    • 700 (Introduction to National Incident Management System)
    • 800 (Introduction to the National Response Framework)
    • 300 (Intermediate ICS – select individuals)
    • 400 (Advanced ICS – Select individuals)

What have we done?

  • April 2001: David, KG4GIY appointed permanent Emergency Coordinator
  • September 2001: Terror Attacks on the Pentagon, Twin Towers.

Welcome to the Post-September 11 world of Emergency Preparedness and the new Amateur Radio Emergency Service

  • 1 July 2003: Prince William County ARES signs an MOU with Prince William County

To define the relationship between the Prince William County Office of Emergency Services (OES), Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES).

To establish a framework of cooperation and a close working relationship with volunteer licensed amateur radio operators organized under the authority of the ARRL ARES program and the Prince William County of Emergency Services (OES).

  • September 2003: PWCARES deploys in support of Hurricane Isabel
  • October 2003: Regional SET with Maryland
  • 2004: First action plan and quick reference guides published
  • 2004: National Capital ARES Council begin informal meetings
  • May 2004: First formal support of Dulles Disaster Drill
  • 2005: First regular meetings of the PWCARES cadre at the EOC
  • March 2006: Patriot Challenge Regional Exercise
  • April 2006: First support of the 24 Hour Ultra-Marathon
  • April2007: Vertex Regional Exercise
  • May2007: Dulles Drill
  • June 2008: PWCARES 3F Field Day
  • March 2009: Where’s Waldo Cadre’s first in-house drill simulating tracking the Strategic National Stockpile deployment.
  • May 2010: Dulles Drill
  • June 2011: CW150 support with Manassas City
  • 2012: Update to the EOP. PWCARES role expands to more than ESF2 support
  • March 2013: Cadre Exercise Abominable Snowmageddon
  • 2015: Support of Marine Corps Marathon Program Office starts
  • June 2016: PWCARES participates in VaNG United Resolve Exercise
  • June 2018: PWCARES 3F Second Field Day
  • June 2019: Three exercises in 7 days. A new record
  • June 2019: Third Field Day (is this a new trend?)
  • March 2020: Lock-down for COVID-19 begins
  • March 2021: MCMO Events return
  • June 2021: PWCARES 5F Field Day in-person

January 2021 Training

COVID-19 Rolls On

First, a moment of silence for the passing of Steve Frick/N4OGR who passed because of COVID at the beginning of this year.

By now, we all know there is a couple of vaccines available for COVID-19. The efficacy should be good enough, but full dosing will not be complete until middle to late summer for those that want it and can get it. Virginia has moved up to group 1B dosing as of Monday, January 11, 2021. There are still questions about reinfection, the effect of the vaccine on the variants (two that we know of so far (B.1.1.7 and B.1.351) (CDC). Regardless, COVID protocols will remain in effect for the foreseeable future and possibly into 2022. This means masks at all events, six-foot separations, and no exceptions.

Review of 2020

COVID heavily impacted the events in 2020 as organizers scrambled to figure out how to hold them safely, if they were held at all. Even training events were curtailed or canceled outright.

Marine Corps Marathon Program Office

As in prior years, the bulk of our events in 2020 were with the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office. Unlike last year, we only participated in two events – the August round-up of runs and the December Frozen Chosin. My thanks to those who came out and supported those events.

Willing Warrior

We had two events with our friends at Willing Warrior. While not technically ARES events, a large number of us did support them. Andy, KM4JTP organized a lovely day in the rain to help them celebrate their fifth year at the compound with a Corvette Show and celebration (OK, it really only rained from 2 PM on, but it did rain hard enough to soak everyone through to the skin), and the Warrior Bike Ride in September, which featured over 250 riders on three courses. Thanks to all those who supported those events.

Upcoming in 2021

Events in 2021 are in flux and will depend on several things. Many standing events have already been canceled or made virtual.

Marine Corps Marathon Program Office

As of January, the Marathon Program Office offers its slate of events as virtual events this year. The 17.75 Crossroads run will be held and will not be in the Park, but will be on base. They will announce other runs as they get closer and the details firm up.

Willing Warriors

Willing Warriors is planning their bike ride for Saturday, September 11 this year. We will release details once we get them.

Field Day

2021 ARRL Field Day is June 26-27. Greg, KM4CCG has lead our efforts in the last couple of years. We will update the cadre on plans as we get closer to Field Day.

Action Plan Review

Have you looked at the action plan lately? Please review Section 5 and 6, at least.

New Section – Behavior

I will be creating a new section about behavior while on station. I am proud that you have all treated each other professionally and acted professionally. However, to prevent future issues and make sure everyone is on the same page, I will add it.

Badges

The current badge will last through the end of 2021. At this point, the badge printer is not compatible with Windows 10, and I lost all the pictures when the database crashed anyway. We will need to update the pictures once we can be in the same zip code. And once I get a new badge printer.

Training

Training requirements for 2021 have not changed. Please check the training page for details. If you have started an ARES task book and need the pages signed, we will do that once we can be in the same zip code.

AuxComm

There is a tentative AuxComm course set for April. I will have the ability to volunteer one or two people from the cadre. If you are interested in taking the course, please let me know.

WinLink Changes

WinLink appears to be moving the VARA software and abandoning the built-in software. It requires a purchase to use the full features.

If you would like to participate in WinLink Wednesday, please feel free. Also, there is a PWCARES HF subside available. Check the Slack/Element channel #packetwl2k for details on Tuesdays for updates.

PWC ARES WINLINK WEDNESDAY SUBNET
ONLY VARA THIS WEEK P2P
3588 USB DIAL FREQUENCY
++++NOTE NEW CALL W4PWC++++
EACH WED 0001 TO 2359EST

The Big One

For some reason, we had a Statewide Simulated Emergency Test, on January 16, 2021. I am not sure how well it was attended. No details were available beyond the scenario below.

Operation “The Big One” is a scenario of a 7.7 earthquake in the active seismic area of the Mountain Lake area of Giles County Virginia. Major damage would be experienced in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pearsburg and Radford Virginia. There is possible damage to the aging Claytor Lake Dam near Pulaski Virginia. This lake is 115 deep, 27.7 miles long and covers 4472 acres. This stands on the New River.

This places all communities along New River down stream from the Claytor Lake at risk of catastrophic flooding. This also includes the Radford Arsenal which employees thousands of people. Virginia Tech and Radford University would experience major damage.

Internet service, phone service and power has been lost over about a 30 mile radius from the epic center of the quake. Communications support will be needed from throughout the Commonwealth.1

ARES Connect

If you have not signed up with ARES Connect, please do so. Rumor had it that it may be going away, but until it does, the site is still viable. I will continue to do double or triple entry.

There is a Virginia Section Website as well. It is operational as of January 15, 2021.

Slack Replacement

Slack was purchased by Salesforce early this year. As such, there appears to be an increasing probability that we will be charged for use of the service. We are looking at alternatives. At the moment we are kicking the tires on a product called Element.

If you want to help us kick the tires, please create an account at app.element.io or download the iOS or Android client. Once you have created an account, please email the EC your user name so I can invite you to join the group. It is not as intuitive as Slack, but it seems OK so far. Please be patient as we take it for a spin.

Recording and Slides

  1. Virginia has not experienced an earthquake greater than a magnitude 5 in its history. http://www.magma.geos.vt.edu/vtso/va_quakes.html

Training Meeting – 16 May 2020

This morning we had our regular training meeting via WebEx. The agenda and notes are below. Slides are at the bottom with the video.

Agenda

  1. Current Update from the County and Cities
  • PWC EOC moved to partial activation as of 1600 2020-05-13
  • ARES moved to “Normal” at 1700h 2020-05-15
  • Northern Virginia dictates that the region remain in Phase Zero until identified benchmarks are met. All current restrictions will remain in effect until at least May 28th, as identified in Executive Order 62.
  • Virginia Department of Health will be hiring 1000 contact tracers to assist efforts to identify persons exposed.
  • The Commonwealth is placing a focus on continuing to increase testing and Personal Protective Equipment availability, as these are essential to moving into and remaining in Phase One of reopening Virginia.
  • Potomac Mills scheduled to reopen May 29

Virginia Reserve Medical Corps is also looking for volunteers. It required FEMA 700 and 100. Link is: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/mrc/

  1. Upcoming events (there are a couple)
  • Run Amuck/ReconRuck/Belleau Wood (June 20)
  • OSS/CIA 50 mile overnight run (June 20)
  • Field Day (June 27/28)
  • MCM New Run (July 14/15)
  • ARES Training (July 18)
  • Fox Hunt (July 18)
  • National Night Out (August 4)
    • PWC, Manassas Park
  • Quantico Tri (August 22)
  1. Field Day discussions (how, when, what?)

http://www.arrl.org/news/field-day-2020-a-time-to-adapt

Discussion:

  • Greg:
    • Nuclear option is possible – we just don’t hold the event
    • Difficult to physical distance
    • No rule changes to account for the times
  • Access to restrooms may not be possible
  • No shared food
  • No county support
  • David to make final decision in the next few days
  1. Fox Hunt (July 18 as possible date)
  • We have not had a fox hunt in the county in a long time
  • Proposed 0900 start time
  • Meet at Potomac Mills
  • Larry, K4MLA to write up a brief about what a fox hunt is and what is required to play
  • Demo event planned for a week or two prior to the actual event
  1. WinLink
  • Winlink has depreciated Winmore and will be removing it.
  • Suggested alternatives are ARDOP (included) or VARA (extra charge)
  • Winlink Wednesdays are a great way to play with Winlink. See the Winlink Wednesday blog post.
  1. Open Items and discussion

COVID-19

Who knew, when I wrote about nuclear attack in December last year, that we would be facing something much more severe. Not that a nuclear attack is not critical, but with the devastation, we could at least hang our hat on something. The COVID-19 situation is very much like September 11, 2001. Everything is intact, yet it is not situation normal.

Over the last three weeks, we have learned how far a 2m wavelength is (that’s about 6 feet, five inches) because it is the recommended social distancing distance. We thought it would be over in fourteen days. Now, April 30th is the current first date when we can get back to normal. Depending on who you are and what you do, even that may not be true (Walt Disney World is not taking reservations for dates before June 1, meaning they think it will take that long to restart their enterprises, or worse, that this could continue well into May). It might be reasonable to expect gatherings will be limited in size right through Independence Day.

If you are working from home, and going a bit stir crazy, feel free to jump into the PWCARES Slack channel. We keep each other sane, somewhat. There is a digital group for sharing help and discussion, just ask to be added if you are not already a member. If you want to create some quick reference guides, there are several areas we need help in, such as FLDigi, WinLink, Antennas. Pull it together, and we will get it posted.

As always, check your gear, keep your wits about you, and we will see you on the air.

October Update

Hallowe’en is just around the corner, and that means the end of the hurricane season is close at hand. For those playing the home game, we are up to Nestor (a Tropical Storm).

For those helping with the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, or running in it, stay safe.

November 3 is when we fall back an hour to Eastern Standard Time.

I expect t-shirts will be delivered to me on Friday (finally) and I will get them in the mail as soon as I have them sorted and into envelopes. Sorry for the delay.

ARESConnect

For those of you who are following along, there are several messages on the ZuckerbergApps about ARESConnect. I have been in contact with the email provided. Those of you who have had trouble signing up in the past should be added to the system now. I have logged my issues with the system, and I have not gotten any good answers back, so in no particular order:

  • Can you be a member of more than one ARES team? No answer has been provided on that yet.
  • What are the points for? Official Response: POINTS: We are working on POINTS to put together a system of Points for items for Virginia Section, they were working to combine them with the old NTS PSHR (Public Service Honor Roll). So from David’s perspective, it’s nothing more than a scoreboard.

In general, I see no real value to ARESConnect from PWCARES standpoint. I can see where it would help those who do not have well-formed cadres or no web sites, but it is a lot of work to double and triple entry. For now, I will do what they tell me to, but so far, they have not given any firm direction.

November Training (November 16)

I have to go to the AuxComm training during our November Training (November 16), the week before Turkey Trot (which usually happens on the same day as our November Training. I have been asked by several for a digital exercise, so I think that the Cadre should get together and do just that. If you would like to participate, please drop me a note, and I will create an open mailing list for coordination (and then dismantle it after the training). If you feel you need access to the EOC, please let me know so I can make the request.

Sentara Drill (November 21)

Details are TBD. The shell of the exercise is to communication between all Sentara hospitals. From the Wiki page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentara_Healthcare), the following are listed as their hospitals:

  • Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital (Harrisonburg, VA)
  • Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (Elizabeth City, NC)
  • Sentara Careplex Hospital (Hampton, VA)
  • Sentara Heart Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Leigh Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Lake Ridge (Lake Ridge, VA)
  • Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center (Woodbridge, VA)
  • Sentara Obici Hospital (Suffolk, VA)
  • Sentara Princess Anne Hospital (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center (Williamsburg, VA)
  • Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital (South Boston, VA)

We should only be responsible for the two in our jurisdiction, but we may be asked to cover others. More details as I get them, obviously, but this will be a combination of HF, VHF, and likely digital.

Turkey Trot (November 23)

Turkey Trot this year is November 23. We have enough people. I have created the first cut of the action plan (https://www.pwcares.org/html/event/turkeytrot.html).

Honor 8K (December 7)

The last event of the MCM calendar for 2019 is the Honor 8K held on the golf course at MCB Quantico. Sign up is here: http://xactllc.volunteerlocal.com/volunteer/?id=42649. This one is usually a couple of hours, and it can be cold at race time.

If there are any questions or comments, please send them my way! See you at the Turkey Trot!

A Brief History of PWCARES

Who do we support

  • Prince William County (MOU 2003, MOU 2016)
  • Service Authority (MOU 2018)
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • Volunteer Organizations Active In Disasters (VOAD), Prince William Volunteer Action Centre
  • Community Emergency Response Team (Manassas/Manassas Park)
  • Marine Corps Marathon Program Office
  • Red Cross (National Capital Region)
  • Salvation Army

Our Qualifications

  • FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Operators (all levels)
  • National Incident Management Courses:
    • 100 (Introduction to the Incident Command System)
    • 200 (Basic Incident Management Command System)
    • 700 (Introduction to National Incident Management System)
    • 800 (Introduction to the National Response Framework)
    • 300 (Intermediate ICS – select individuals)
    • 400 (Advanced ICS – Select individuals)

What have we done?

  • April 2001: David, KG4GIY appointed permanent Emergency Coordinator
  • September 2001: Terror Attacks on the Pentagon, Twin Towers.

Welcome to the Post-September 11 world of Emergency Preparedness and the new Amateur Radio Emergency Service

  • 1 July 2003: Prince William County ARES signs an MOU with Prince William County

To define the relationship between the Prince William County Office of Emergency Services (OES), Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES).

To establish a framework of cooperation and a close working relationship with volunteer licensed amateur radio operators organized under the authority of the ARRL ARES program and the Prince William County of Emergency Services (OES).

  • September 2003: PWCARES deploys in support of Hurricane Isabel
  • October 2003: Regional SET with Maryland
  • 2004: First action plan and quick reference guides published
  • 2004: National Capital ARES Council being informal meetings
  • May 2004: First formal support of Dulles Disaster Drill
  • 2005: First regular meetings of the PWCARES cadre at the EOC
  • March 2006: Patriot Challenge Regional Exercise
  • April 2006: First support of the 24 Hour Ultra-Marathon
  • April2007: Vertex Regional Exercise
  • May2007: Dulles Drill
  • June 2008: PWCARES 3F Field Day
  • March 2009: Where’s Waldo Cadre’s first in-house drill simulating tracking the Strategic National Stockpile deployment.
  • May 2010: Dulles Drill
  • June 2011: CW150 support with Manassas City
  • 2012: Update to the EOP. PWCARES role expands to more than ESF2 support
  • March 2013: Cadre Exercise Abominable Snowmageddon
  • 2015: Support of Marine Corps Marathon Program Office starts
  • June 2016: PWCARES participates in VaNG United Resolve Exercise
  • June 2018: PWCARES 3F Second Field Day
  • June 2019: Three exercises in 7 days. A new record
  • June 2019: Third Field Day (is this a new trend?)