Emergency Communications

GAREC 2013 - Summary Report

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The ninth Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference, GAREC-2013, took place in Zurich, Switzerland hosted by the Union Schweizerischer Kurzwellen-Amateure (USKA) and was attended by 45 delegates from 14 countries. The theme of the conference was 'Do we need emergency communications in the 'first world''.

Presentations were received on;

  • The effects of a loss of electrical power on a countries infrastructure and how amateur radio could provide support.

  • The role of the International Telecommunications Union in promoting emergency communications.

  • The structure of amateur radio emergency communications groups in India and Italy.

  • Three different methods of providing digital communications structures for emergency email and file transfer.

  • In an open session the conference also considered the problems of convincing both the amateur radio community and our regulators of the value of emergency communications activities. While solutions may not be easy to find, sharing the problems and allowing individual countries to recognise that they were not alone provides valuable support to the Global community.

A directed exercise was also held where the delegates were asked to work together as one team, providing emergency communications for a fictional country and event. This encouraged the delegates to consider what their ideal network and licence conditions would look like as well as enhance the inter-personal relationships between the delegates helping them to work together more efficiently in future.

Certain themes began to emerge through the activities.

  • The importance of data modes and packet radio as part of the emergency communications toolbox.

  • The importance of practising with different modes so skills are kept up to date. This should be frequently as the best system is one you already use.

  • An increased awareness of the vulnerability of infrastructure to loss of power and utilities and the possibility that we may be asked to support other groups.

  • Every country has different disaster response needs reflecting their situation and there is no one way of working. But there are methods which we can adapt to our needs.

  • We are all volunteers and are always learning and always seek to do the best for our communities within our means.

  • There was increased understanding of the restrictions placed on Radio Amateurs in different countries in emergency response.

  • Good operating practice is key to efficient emergency communications. The production of IARU training material for emergency communications is encouraged. Local training is always required to meet local government needs.

The next GAREC will be held in Huntsville, USA in August 2014 and all groups and organisations involved in amateur Radio Emergency Communications are invited to attend to share their knowledge and learn from others.

The venue for 2015 is currently planned to be Tampere, Finland.

The delegates wish to record their thanks and appreciation for the generous hospitality of USKA and our Swiss hosts for this successful conference.

Canada floods keep hams busy

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Swollen rivers and creeks have caused flooding over a wide swath of the southern part of Alberta in Canada. The government has declared a local emergency for 25 communities, which are in various stages from disaster control to clean-up, which will continue for some time. Evacuations are keeping residents safe although some 1,500 people stranded and many bridges washed away.

The Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) through its ARES groups is providing emergency help and asks that the frequencies of 7.135 MHz and 3.675 MHz be kept clear. The frequencies have been pre-determined with help from the IARU Region 2. There have been reports of some interference this weekend from participants in the ARRL Field Day.

The flood has caused serious issues with the communication infrastructure in southern Alberta. Currently traditional communications are sporadic at best. ARES has deployed its members and at times provided the only communications link.

- Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Commitee.

Radio Amateurs of Cuba - Emergency network activated

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Prof. Arnie Coro, CO2KK, reported  heavy rains in the province of Pinar del Rio and  the activation by FRC (Federacion de Radioaficionados de Cuba)  of their Emergency National Net (CO9DCN) on the frequencies 3720, 3740, 7110 and 7120.
They will appreciate your collaboration in keeping the frequencies above clear.

73, Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P EMCOR R2

Atlantic Hurricane Season 2013

{jcomments off}The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts officially on 1st June and many predictions indicate an above average number of storms this year.

Amateur Radio continues to play a part in gathering and distributing information for the weather and emergency services each year and Radio Amateurs in Region 1 are reminded that the following frequencies may be in use by nets in North and Central America to track and deal with the consequences of these severe weather events. It is possible for Region 1 amateurs to cause unintentional QRM to these nets so please listen carefully if operating near these frequencies:

Caribbean Emergency & Weather Nets: 7.162 & 3.815 MHz
Eastern Caribbean Narrow Band Emergency System Net: 7.036 MHz USB (Olivia & MT63)
Caribbean Emergency: 14.185 MHz
Republica Dominicana: 7.065 & 3.780 MHz
Cuba: 7.045, 7.080, 7.110, and 3.740 MHz
Central America: 7.090 & 3.750 MHz
Nicaragua: 7.098 MHz
Guatemala: 7.075 MHz
Panama: 7.085 MHz
Mexico: 7.060 & 3.690 MHz

Maritime Mobile Service Net: 14.300 MHz
Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 MHz
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN): 14.265 MHz

Other local emergency communications groups may also activate if a hurricane approaches their area and those frequencies would be announced at the time.

All ready for GAREC 2013

{jcomments off}The Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference (GAREC) is on June 25-27 in Zurich, Switzerland, timed to precede HAM RADIO, Europe's largest Amateur Radio gathering in Friedrichshafen, Germany on June 28-30.

The GAREC 2013 is part of Switzerland's Convention of Amateur Radio Emergency Communication.

Held annually since 2005 GAREC it is an opportunity for emergency communicators to discuss recent events, technical solutions to problems and how to find cooperation with professional partners.

While GAREC 2013 will primarily focus on Amateur Radio emergency communication in Europe, all radio amateurs who are interested in providing public service via Amateur Radio are invited.

The topics include the relevance of Amateur Radio Emergency Communication in the First World and the HAMNET high speed data network, presentations from the IARU regions plus those with recent disaster relief communications operations.

Registration is due by May 20. Those attending HAM RADIO after GAREC, transportation to Friedrichshafen will be provided for a fee. For more information visit the GAREC 2013 website.