Italy-Malta Co-operation in Emergency Communications

Following their successful involvement in an Earthquake simulation exercise in September Maltese Radio Amateurs were invited to take part in a second phase of the exercise on the Italian island of Lampedusa between 28th September and 1st October.

The team was very limited in the mass of equipment they could take with them and had about 100 kg of equipment including radios, power supplies , antennas/dish, coax , masts , tools , laptop excluding personal belongings in a backpack. Using this they were able to maintain contact between Malta and Lampedusa on 40m whereas signals on VHF/UHF and microwave were unstable even with yagis on both sides. Malta had an Amateur Radio caravan located at Dingli which had a clear take off to Lampedusa. The caravan is equipped from hf to microwave and had radio contact with the Maltese Civil Protection base of operation where messages were relayed to.

To avoid problems all exercise emails were passed from Lampedusa to Malta via fldigi and flmsg and emails would then originated from Malta with replies being passed back the same way. They also passed test messages to other amateurs who were willing to pass email messages on their behalf.

'Real world' problems included a 1 hour scheduled power cut at Lampedusa which the team were unaware of so they had to resort to borrowing a car battery to power up the base station for more than an hour as their other batteries were being used by the portable station at the site of the exercise. Mobile phone connections at Lampedusa were unstable but this just added to the realism of the exercise.   

The Maltese team operated with 2 persons per site in 12 hour shifts for the duration of the exercise which was again supported by the European Union.