As we look for the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, it is easy to forget that hurricane season is right around the proverbial corner. Hurricane season officially starts on June 1. The current Virginia Executive Order Fifty Five, telling us to hunker down in our homes, is set to expire, baring other things, on June 10. And of course, we have experienced years where the season starts before June.
Early predictions expect this year’s hurricane season to be busier than average. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU are among the first to issue an outlook for the season. This year they anticipate 16 named storms, 8 of which becoming hurricanes and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes. (Colorado State University)
I know we are all focused on keeping our families, and ourselves safe, but time marches on, regardless. Check your gear, fire up your generators, if you have not done so, and get out and play as much as you can.
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.
A nuclear attack on US soil would most likely target one of six cities: New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, DC.
But public-health experts say any of those cities would struggle to provide emergency services to the wounded.
The cities also no longer have designated fallout shelters to protect people from radiation. Yahoo News
Each city has an emergency-management website that informs citizens about what to do in a crisis, but most of those sites (except for LA and New York) don’t directly mention a nuclear attack. That makes it difficult for residents to learn how to protect themselves if a bomb were to hit one of those cities.
I find it interesting that in 2019, having actually suffered from numerous terroristic style attacks (you might say guerrilla warfare) FEMA is now talking about nuclear attack. Or at least it is one of six scenarios they are considering. Their conclusion: Cities might struggle to provide emergency services after a nuclear strike
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.
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 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.
Derek, KV4SH and myself were discussing shape files and other things that are useful for mapping with Xastir, the Linux based APRS program. To increase the level of visibility you can download additional files from the USGS and the Census Department, but it is a bit of tricky process, so here are some tips.
When you click on the link, you will get the web interface to select the features you wish to use. For example Choose 2018, Roads, Choose “Virginia” under All Roads, Choose “Prince William” and the download points at tl_2018_51153.zip. For convenience I have downloaded a number of these files and put them on the PWCARES site, but the most current ones are always the best. See the Web Links at the bottom of this article.
In the zip files, the .shp files are useful for Xastir, so for example, if you unzip tl_2018_51153.zip you will see something like:
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)
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
On the fourth weekend in June, Amateur Radio operators take to the field to practice and hone their skills. Field Day is Amateur Radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 Amateur Radio operators throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate our science, skill, and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in Amateur Radio.
This year, Members of the Prince William County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, June 22 – 23, at Prince William County Emergency Operations Center, 1 County Complex Ct. in Woodbridge, VA. Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio. This event is open to the public, and all are encouraged to attend.
Back in 2010, the ARRL announced the official vest we are supposed to wear:
ARES members, while activated, deployed, in community service activities or otherwise on duty shall wear over their normal apparel, at minimum, a florescent green ANSI Class 2 reflective, 100% polyester vest. The vest shall be decorated in the following manner:
On the Back:
In minimum 2” lettering, Arial Black font, black in color, imprinted above the horizontal reflective tape:
Those in a leadership position may add their title (SEC, DIRECTOR, EC, PIO, etc) below the words “Emergency Communications” in not less than 3″ tall font, black. (Under the lower reflective stripe). Local jurisdictions may elect to add their organization name above the words “Amateur Radio” with no larger than 1″ Arial Black lettering, color black.
On the Front:
On the Left Chest, the ARES logo, minimum 3.5 inch diameter, black in color, negative background. The Right Chest shall remain blank so as to allow wearer to affix their ARES or ARRL name badge.
Vests may have zip or Velcro type front closures. Members may choose vests with or without pockets, at their own discretion. Other apparel, such as short and long sleeve tee shirts, jackets and coats are approved for member use as long as the garments meet the same color, ANSI Class 2, lettering and decoration standard. A waiver of this standard may be given by an SEC for specific purposes with good cause.
Florescent green is the same as fluorescent yellow, which is what most vendors call it. It is not the same as fluorescent orange, which is what hunters generally wear.
The League sells a mesh vest, but the quality is questionable if you expect to use them frequently. They also have a solid vest, which is a bit more solid, but I think those of us that have used them find they are not a lot better, especially for multiple deployments (I have gone through several vests in a year). They also lack pockets or MOLLE attachments, which several have found to be a disadvantage.
Andy, KJ4MTP, Tom, W4PIO, and I have moved to a sturdier surveyor’s style vest. I can report that it has survived a couple of washings already, which is more than the League’s vests did. The problem with the non-league supplied gear is having to be handy with a needle and thread, or know someone who is, and pick up the associated panels. (Links below)
CopQuest (link below) has a panel that is 11″ by 4″ where you can get either combination:
The bigger letters are 2″ while the smaller letters are only 1″, so while it does not meet the letter of the requirement, it certainly meets the spirit and, it is reflective, unlike the League’s offering, which is matte black. Only the tape around the vest is reflective. If you do enough outside nighttime events, you will appreciate the additional ability to glow in the dark.
I generally wear the former with the larger Amateur Radio so as not to be confused as part of the Emergency Service.
Similarly, most of us use our fabric badge instead of having the ARRL ARES logo imprinted on the vest. You can quickly sew a small strip of velcro on the back (or use the pre-adhesive version) and stick it to one of the velcro mounting points on the vest. The downside to the pre-adhesive version is our summer weather. Over time the glue begins to deteriorate. I have looked at morale-styled badges (with hook velcro all over the back) but there is an increased cost. Until we run out of the current badges, we will continue to use these. If you are new to the Cadre, you are entitled to one badge. If you need to get more, please visit our swag link to order one.
If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a note.
On Saturday, March 23, 2019, PWCARES supported the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office with the annual 17.75K run through the Prince William County Forest. Thanks to all who came out to support the event.
What Went Right
Despite the wind, the antenna at Start/Stop stayed up, thanks to proper guying by Tom, W4PIO.
The 6m frequency worked for communications among those that had it.
What can be improved
Oddly, 2m communications did not work. Whether that can be attributed to a geomagnetic storm that rolled through Friday into Saturday, or something else, we are not sure. As the sun came up the communications improved. In one case, David, KG4GIY and Tom, W4PIO were standing almost next to each other and one could hear the communications and one could not, and there was no predictability about who heard what, when.
Despite 6m working, it is not conducive to those that have to walk a bit to be able to see all of their section, making it a less than optimum solution.
Several folks forgot their access passes.
Thanks to Brian, WC4J (top photo) and Eric, KJ4MSW (bottom photo).