Emergency Communications

Hurricane Watch net activated for Hurricane Gonzalo

The Hurricane Watch Net has been activated for Hurricane Gonzalo currently at sea in the Caribbean and expected to reach the British and US Virgin Islands.

The net is using 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. Please keep those frequencies clear.

It passed near Antigua as a tropical storm, tearing roofs from houses and knocking down trees before further strengthening and is now classified as a hurricane.

– Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

GAREC 2014 Summary Report


Huntsville, Alabama, USA. 14 -15 June 2014

The Tenth Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference, GAREC-2014, took place in Huntsville, Alabama. It was hosted by ARRL Alabama Section and the Huntsville Hamfest Association and was attended by delegates from all three ITU regions.

Aside from standing items such as regional reports and a desktop exercise, presentations were also received on;

  • Emergency Communications as an element of promoting Amateur Radio amongst young people.

  • The Salvation Army\'s SATERN programme and its use of digital modes and remote control operation.

  • How the US Department of Defense utilises the Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) capabilities in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief activities..

  • The construction of a combined Emergency Services Dispatch Centre providing interoperable communications facilities.

    During the conference and in open sessions a number of themes began to emerge:

  • The importance of having meaningful conversations with our Served Agencies to ensure that we best meet their communications needs.

  • Attention should be focused on amateur radio as a trusted partner in emergency response at all phases of the communications life cycle.

  • Effective ways need to be found to use social media to circulate near real-time information on an event which do not compromise our relationships with served agencies.

  • More use should be made of social media to circulate information on GAREC itself, including video of the 2015 conference if possible to broaden the opportunity of outreach.

  • We reaffirmed that every country has different disaster response needs which reflect their unique situations and operational standards. The IARU HF Emergency Message Procedures, which includes elements such as net operation procedures, standard messaging protocols and activation protocols should continue to be developed to establish baseline standards between countries and regions. These recommended best practices are not intended to replace existing Standard Operating Procedures but to enhance them.

  • The role of amateur radio in emergency communications is constantly changing. Amateur radio must continue to adapt to the needs of our partners including embracing emerging technologies and new challenges.

  • The conference recognised that more needed to be done to reach out to our Served Agencies to promote our service. All GAREC participants past and present are invited to submit their ideas or examples of local best practice to the next conference in 2015.

  • GAREC participants recognise that in order to recruit the next generation of emergency communicators strong emphasis needs to be paid to recruiting new licensees to the hobby with attractive programmes training and support. Special attention is encouraged to develop youth and mentoring programmes.

  • Steps should be taken to develop procedures for the gathering and disseminating of near real-time information on the Amateur Radio response to incidents to aid situational awareness and analysis on a global scale.

The next GAREC will be held in Tampere, Finland in June 2015 and all groups and organisations involved in amateur Radio Emergency Communications are invited to attend to share their knowledge and learn from others.

The delegates wish to record their thanks and appreciation for the generous hospitality of ARRL Alabama Section and the Huntsville Hamfest Association for this successful conference.

Communications outages filles by Indian Hams

When the powerful Cyclone Hudhud swept into the Bay of Bengal coastal areas of India disaster authorities called on radio amateurs to help out.

National Coordinator for Disaster Communication, Jayu Bhide VU2JAU said, "In Odissa there are six hams working hard to maintain the communication covering the state. "The effect of Hudhud is now reduced and few deaths have been reported."

The media claimed that at least six deaths had occurred. That was good news for Odissa because locals feared the bad weather could be a repeat of the very severe storm Phailin in 2013. Before Hudhud with winds up to 200 km/h made landfall damaging buildings, power systems and the loss of communication in many areas, thousands of people were evacuated to shelters. While the worst of strong winds and heavy rain is over, the cyclone can still cause flash flooding and further damage. A full assessment must wait until the storm moves completely on.

Jayu VU2JAU said that active from the Bhuvaneshwar area are Preeti VU3UFX, Rajesh VU3PLP and Samir VU2AOR. In the Sambalpur area are Dilip VU2DPI who is control of a network of Shantanu VU2SIC and Pawan VU2PGU. These have been on air using 7140 MHz and have kept their stations open 24 hours a day. In the Andhra coastal area the total communication is handled by the National Institute of Amateur Radio, and is now under control.

Jayu VU2JAU from the IARU member Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), is monitoring emergency traffic from his home QTH in Gwalior.

Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

Emergency Communications Exercise in Malaysia

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have asked for an amateur radio emergency communications exercise on September 27 centred on Sarawak in East Malaysia. The IARU member society, the Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitters' Society (MARTS) and the Amateur Radio Club Sarawak (ARCS), will jointly run the exercise. It will use the centre of activity emergency frequency 7.110 MHz, near vertical incidence skywave propagation and emphasise the PSK31 digital mode.

The scenario is the failure on the Sarawak electricity grid triggered by an abnormal solar flare which also knocks out all telephones. The exercise is to test the effectiveness of MARTS and ARCS in setting up local and east to west Malaysia communications.

To give authorities a better understanding of the message handling capabilities with accuracy and urgency being important, the IARU message format will be used, as it would should a real life event occur. MCMC Chairman Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi from Kuala Lumpur has been invited to witness and take part in this exercise.

MARTS asks that the frequency of 7.110 MHz be kept clear for the exercise on Saturday, September 27.

Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

Typhoon hits Central Philippines

At least 70 people are missing after the Maharlika II experienced steering trouble and sank off the central Philippines during the approach of fast moving Typhoon Kalmaegi. Due the Typhoon, the Philippines Amateur Radio Association has activated its HERO network for emergency traffic and coordination. PARA has requested that 7.095 plus or minus 5 kHz be kept clear.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has asked all in its path to take the necessary precautions. The Typhoon over the Cagayan and Isabela provinces was bringing with it winds of 130km/h and gusts of 160km/h on Sunday, and expected move north-east before reaching the South China Sea on Tuesday.

Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.