Rescue – 16 January 2017

At 1745 on 16 Jan 2017, a call went out for a patient fallen approximately 10 metres at Lakeside Pinnacle near caves. Jason (ZS1ZW) was activated, and joined by Brian (ZS1BTD) a little later. Initial hope was to use Skymed, but this option was not available due to winds.

On arrival (1835), Cape Medical Response controller was temporary IC, having been the one that made the call to Metro. Based on the urgency of the patient injury, and having ascertained from the locals that the walk up was not technical, he had despatched 2 of his members (ILS) along with 2 Muizenberg Fire and Rescue personnel to the patient. They reached the patient as I arrived, and gave initial assessment – Broken femur, degloving, and facial scrapes and bruises. 16 year old male, with 3 accompanying family members.

Metro 1 arrived 1838, as did initial MCSA volunteers. Metro medics departed 1842 as hasty team, followed shortly by technical rescuers advance party to determine extraction requirements. Both parties arrived at PT at 1855

Descent commenced approx. 1950, through the various belay points, and reached the road at 2043 where the CMR vehicle A2 was waiting to accept. The patient was transferred by road to Melomed Tokai.

During the final stages of the descent, the road was closed by local NHW members for safety, as well as the possibility of dislodged rocks.

All team members off mountain approx. 2110, debriefed and stood down 2135

The rescue was attended by HAMNET, MCSA, CMR, Muizenberg Fire and Rescue, Hikers Network and METRO personnel. Excluding CMR and Fire, there were 24 responders, a remarkable turnout.

Rescue – 13 January 2017

At around 20:10 on 13 January, a call was put out for a party of hikers that were stranded on top of Table Mountain. Due to the weather conditions the cable car had suspended operations and the hikers were stranded without lights and warm clothing. A team was sent to asses them while they slowly made their way down. Ian Stanbridge (ZS1OSK) responded to assist with communications from Metro1. The patients were reached and assessed where they were treated for hypothermia and assisted further down the mountain.

The stand down was given around 22:00 after a debriefing and the patients went on their way in private transport.

REPORT 15 January 2017

HAMNET South Africa would like to welcome our new SARL Office Administrator Kelley Heslop to her post, and wish her many happy days of interaction with all us crazy folks, as we go about playing radio, and being of service to the community. We hope we don’t drive you mad, Kelly!

Things are looking up a bit, as far as dam levels around the country are concerned. All provinces have recorded higher dam levels this week compared to last week, except the Eastern Cape which is static, and the Western Cape, whose levels have dropped by 2% since last week. Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape dams are all now fuller than this time last year, which is most reassuring.

Sadly, the Western Cape has been battling huge fires this week, with large tracts of land and some properties in the Helderberg and Grabouw area devastated, and around Simonstown, where a huge fire broke out dramatically on Wednesday.  This resulted in road closures, large scale evacuation of suburbs, and even herding of baboon troops away from the fires, while small animals like buck, tortoises and snakes were rescued and released elsewhere. Fifty horses were moved from Glencairn stables. Rumours of arsonists seen starting the fires abound, as the authorities investigate their causes.

Meanwhile, over Europe, Emergency communicators are preparing for bad weather, with very low temperatures, storms, snow and potential floods.

Greg Mossop, G0DUB says that RAYNET groups in the UK have been either active or on standby for the last few days to deal with the effects of flooding on the East coast of the country. He has also seen on Twitter that some ADRASEC groups in France have been ready to respond to the weather conditions and now, through Facebook, a notice that 330 000 homes in France have lost their electricity supplies.

Snow and ice have extended down to Greece, and Adrian YO3HJV says that, in Romania, they had heavy snow and Orange Codes for very low temperatures during the week, but no severe alerts were issued for them (RVSU), so they only had to pass routine type traffic.

In some counties there were Red Codes for snow and freezing weather but fortunately, in big cities, the schools were closed. Also in the Eastern counties of Romania, almost all roads were closed during Orange and Red Codes for severe weather, so there were no significant problems.

They had some warnings issued for potential power failures in some areas from the National Electric Energy Company for the next few days but they are prepared for that. There are also some severe alerts issued for the next week but there is no confirmation yet. They are using this relatively warm weekend to prepare for the worst.

In anticipation, in Bucharest,  they started a Winlink2000 gateway on UHF and a very wide area digipeater, which is heard consistently in Bulgaria and can pass information through LZ digipeaters up to the extreme South West of Romania.

They mainly use Office 365 for routine traffic and have issued some training videos to their members on how to set up and use RMS Express as the tool of choice for Emcomm in RVSU.

Thank you Adrian for that insert.

For a way of dealing with another type of fire, a new smartphone app could help smokers stick to their New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking.

Cigbreak Free works like a regular smartphone game, with players having to complete tasks to progress through levels and gain rewards. However, it also incorporates a combination of 37 behavioural change techniques designed to help smokers quit. Some of the techniques are so subtly embedded in the game, that the player will be unaware of their presence. The app also includes a quit journal where users can calculate how much money they are saving.

Games creation processes lecturer Hope Caton, who was involved in the design of the app, said: “The good thing about a smartphone gaming app is that you can play it anywhere. Craving is a short-term thing, so if you get a craving at 11am, you can play the game in the warm until it passes, rather than going out into the cold for a cigarette. You’ve also got something to do with your hands other than smoke.”

The app will be coming to Android and iPhone platforms.

HAMNET in the Western Cape is looking forward to a busy first quarter of the year, with several sporting events up ahead. The first is the el Shaddai sponsored 99er Cycle Tour which happens on the 11th February outside the Durbanville area. We will be providing 18 operators for that event, including APRS tracking of rovers and ambulances. A week later, we will assist at the Lions Journey for Sight and Service on 19th February, also a cycle tour, and also requiring APRS tracking and about 7 operators.

Then, in March, we always assist at what used to be called the Cape Argus cycle tour, and now called the Cape Town Cycle Tour. We are not the primary communications organisation here, but usually assist Delta Search and Rescue by providing radio operators. And finally, over the Easter weekend, we support the medical division of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on 15th April. Here we provide 16 operators, but use the City of Cape Town’s Tetra radio system, and a proprietary cell-tracking system, used in all the vehicles on the course. The organisation and planning of all four of these races is at an advanced stage, and all HAMNET members in the Western Cape are invited to volunteer their services for one or all of these events, by contacting me at zs1dfr@telkomsa.net.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

New Year Rescues

Members from HAMNET Western Cape were involved with a number of rescues over the festive period.

On the 1 January 2017, Matt Feinstein (ZS1MTF) responded to a call for a dehydrated patient on Platteklip Gorge. Matt secured the landing zone (LZ) at Kloofnek parking to allow Skymed 1 to operate in the area. The patient was extracted and taken to hospital.

On the 4 January, Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) and Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC), responded to a call for a patient that had fallen in the Elsie Peak area. This is located around the Fishoek are of Cape Town. A suitable LZ was sought and it was decide to hold this at the Fishoek Provincial Hospital as no other suitable area could be found. The call was only received quite late and the rescue crew had to operate quickly as the light was fading. It was decided to extract the patient with a screamer suit to allow for faster operations. At the same time a call for a patient in difficulty on Platteklip Gorge was received and Liz Southey (ZS1XS), Ian Stainbridge (ZS1OSK) and myself (ZS1GS) responded. This was Ian’s first call so we welcome him to the list of responders. The patient was walked out and brought down by the cable car and was taken away with private transport.

On the 8 January 2017, Ian (ZS1OSK) responded on his own to a call for assistance with a party of 5 requiring help. The party was made up of 2 adults and 3 children. They were mobile but were out of water and were uninjured. Ian manned Metro 1 at the Jeep Track and by sunset the party were safe off the mountain.

I wish to thank all the members involved throughout out the entire holiday period for their support and efforts. It is appreciated by myself and the management of Metro.

REPORT 8 January 2017

In a report from the website https://phys.org, it has been revealed that natural disasters including storms and earthquakes caused $175 billion of damage in 2016, the highest level since 2012, according to German reinsurance giant Munich Re.

While the year saw a two-thirds increase in the financial impact of catastrophes around the world, casualties from natural disasters were far lower in 2016 than the previous year, at 8,700 deaths compared with 25,400.

Munich Re pointed to two earthquakes on the Japanese island of Kyushu in April and floods in China in June and July as the most devastating natural events, inflicting costs of $31 billion in Japan and $20 billion in China.

North America suffered its largest number of disasters since 1980, at 160 events.

October’s Hurricane Matthew was the worst in the region, causing 550 deaths in Haiti alone as well as $10.2 billion of damage.

Meanwhile Canada battled wildfires in May after spring heat-waves and droughts, costing around $4 billion, while summer brought serious flooding in the southern US to the tune of $10 billion.

And a series of storms across Europe in late May and early June brought flood damage costing a total of $6 billion, with flooding hitting Germany especially badly as well as the French capital Paris.

The April earthquakes on the Japanese island of Kyushu were the most devastating natural events of 2016, inflicting costs of $31 billion in Japan, according to Munich Re

Overall, floods accounted for 34 percent of losses—an “exceptional” figure compared with the average of 21 percent in the last 10 years, Munich Re pointed out.

“A look at the weather-related catastrophes of 2016 shows the potential effects of unchecked climate change,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research Unit.

But he noted that “individual events themselves can never be attributed directly to climate change.”

An example of the disasters quoted in the above report is the huge multi-fronted fire across Sir Lowry’s pass towards Grabouw in the Cape that has been raging since Tuesday. It is highly suspicious that 106 separate fires started in that 24 hours, and the likelihood of a natural cause for all of them is exceedingly slim.

A City of Cape Town report said that most were extinguished or contained before they could cause much damage, but a devastating mountain fire above Somerset West was still not fully under control, said JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security.

More than 120 firefighters, 12 fire engines and 10 water tankers battled the mountain vegetation fire on Tuesday and worked through the night on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in a strong southeasterly wind.

“The fire is not yet completely under control. Aerial and ground crew operations are still under way in high-risk areas of the Helderberg basin,” Smith said.

The fire forced the closure of the N2 and Sir Lowry’s Pass in both directions between Grabouw and Sir Lowry’s Pass Road.

“The N2 to Grabouw has since been reopened, while the entrance into Sir Lowry’s Pass Village on the N2 is closed intermittently depending on smoky conditions.”

The road to Bezweni Lodge, which is below the affected mountain slope, remained closed.

There were also fires on the slopes of Table Mountain above Victoria Road in Llandudno, a fire on De Waal Drive in Zonnebloem, and a fire near Big Bay Boulevard on the West Coast Road.

These destroyed large areas of vegetation but did not endanger lives or property. Smith said the Somerset West fire appeared to have destroyed three buildings, including the upper section of the lodge.

Theo Layne, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Spokesperson said, “Continuous assessment is being done to determine if we need more crew or if the crew that we have is sufficient and we just have to rotate them, in order to make sure that they don’t become dehydrated.”

“….. also the workload that is put on them is tremendous because it is a mountainous area, and they are travelling quite a bit up and down the mountain.”

Voluntary evacuations are under way, as the flames on the mountain reach residential areas.

Exhausted firefighters have worked 24 hour shifts containing the fires on all fronts, and the community have responded by delivering large quantities of drinking water and more interesting foodstuffs for the firefighters than the rations they are issued with, to keep their morale up.

Numbers of horses were evacuated from farms along the road to Sir Lowry’s Pass, with owners and helpers arriving uninvited with horse boxes to move the frightened animals. Some horses had to be walked out, because the general commotion made them too skittish to be boxed and transported.

And HAMNET was there. From early on Tuesday evening, HAMNET members joined the convoy of vehicles ready to start evacuating people whose houses were threatened on the pass.

It seems that by Wednesday evening, the fires were largely contained. But HAMNET was already busy on Table Mountain again, assisting with logistic management of tourist rescues. Landing zones had to be established for the AMS helicopters, some of the rescue teams had HAMNET members amongst them climbing to assist in rescues, and occasionally,  a second group had to be despatched to approach the mountain from a different direction, to gain access to the threatened parties.

Table Mountain and surrounds broke the record for rescues in 2016, with Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) being involved in 170 rescues during 2016. WSAR consists of volunteers from the Mountain Club of SA, the Off Road Rescue Unit, HAMNET and Delta Search and Rescue, amongst many others. We assist the Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape wherever and whenever they need us, and have a duty logistics manager on duty 24/7 to accept requests for help from HAMNET.

Fighting fires uses water, and local dams were severely depleted by the helicopters scooping up water in buckets to dump on the fires. The water levels in the Western Cape dams have dropped by an average of 4% this last week, while all other provinces are the same as last week.

However, the Karee Dam, which supplies Calvinia in the Northern Cape is absolutely dry, and only limited water is available from bore holes in the area. Our thoughts go out to the people in that area, who are parched by their very hot climate at the best of times.

This is Dave Reece reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

REPORT 1 January 2017

Greg Mossop G0DUB has sent us a summary of the Super Typhoon situation in the Philippines, provided by Jim Linton VK3PC, and I quote:

‘Six people have been killed and more than 380,000 evacuated as Super Typhoon Nock-Ten (locally called Nina) cut a path through the Philippines, with the Ham Radio Emergency (HERO) net activated in advance. The Christmas Day disaster cut power to five provinces, downed trees, caused widespread damage, and dimmed the festive occasion in Asia’s largest Catholic nation.

‘The slow moving typhoon made landfall seven times from Sunday evening until noon on Monday. Jojo Vicencio DU1VHY says: “A truly commendable job was done by many radio amateurs who not only gave up their traditional Christmas activities, but had on occasion to stop transmissions because they were in the storm path.”

‘In the Catanduanes were Sider DU4SLT of ARCC, Dexter DU4DXT and Joseph DV4PGS, Joseph of ISLACOM, with other groups in Bicol and Samar-Leyte. All were on HF, and VHF communications were also active.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says that, as the typhoon first made landfall some network stations were off air, with weather reports for Catanduanes of sustained winds in excess of the 200kph mark. Then gradually stations came back giving reports of the terrible damage that had occurred in their areas. As the typhoon swept along the Southern Tagalong areas it made landfall several times. Mannduque was badly hit too, as reported by HERO.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “It created a large swath of destruction and debris – uprooted and fallen trees and posts, landslides, impassable roads and other damage. Even our own HERO’s were not spared.”

‘The reports were quickly gathered by the network and relayed to authorities, some tuned in to the HERO net themselves.

‘ “The HEROs persistence in getting back on air, primarily to update the network of hams is truly admirable,” he said.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “It has now become a reality that our emergency calling frequency is the most listened to during disasters. Government operators listened in, and some even revealed their presence.

‘ “Armed Forces station Peacemaker in Catarman, for example, broke into the frequency looking for a counterpart station also in Northern Samar.

‘ “A National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) volunteer operator made his presence known saying they were also monitoring.”

‘The Office of Civil Defence (OCD) has two stations that constantly visited the HERO net. From Leyte to Quezon the HERO communications on 7.095 MHz never faltered.

‘Jojo DU1VHY says: “Thank you to all those who willingly gave up their Christmas time to be of service to others. We all must continue to hone our communications skills to meet and be prepared for the future.”

‘About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, with emergency communications to the community and other agencies provided by the HERO network.’ End quote.

Good news issued by the World Health Organisation this week reveals that an experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial, according to results published in The Lancet last week. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year. The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was studied in a trial involving 11841 people in Guinea during 2015.

“While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenceless,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation, and the study’s lead author. Good news indeed. We await with eager anticipation the announcement of a similar vaccine for the AIDS virus!

As usual, the Dam report for South Africa for the week just finished makes depressing reading. The Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Lesotho, North West and Northern Cape dams all show no change on last week’s levels, but are on average between 10 and 12% lower than the same week last year. Limpopo province has shown a 3% increase over last week, now at 49%, compared to 66 last year, Mpumulanga has gained 2% on last week to 56%, but still less than last year’s 63%, and only North West shows a 10% higher figure than last year, now at 57% full.

Apparently, there have been some quite good rains here and there, but not enough to make appreciable differences to the province’s averages. The Western Cape is in its dry season, and there will have to be a significant wet winter season to get their dams into a state capable of supplying water for the next summer at the end of 2017. To a greater extent, the other provinces rely on Summer rainfall to provide their potable water, and we watch with concern the patchy nature of the rainfall so far.

On a more optimistic note, may I take the opportunity to wish all my listeners and readers a happy healthy and prosperous New Year, full of useful amateur radio activities, showing a keen spirit of volunteerism, and getting involved in helping our fellow citizens when called to help. That’s what we do so well!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.

REPORT 25 December 2016

We have news of involvement by HAMNET members in four emergency situations in the last 2 weeks.

From Andrew Gray ZS2G we hear that 12 HAMNET and PEARS members assisted in fighting the bush fire in the Theescombe area that advanced across the Heatherbank Hill towards the Lorraine area on the 6th December. Local inhabitants were helped to evacuate their belongings away from the threat. Luckily the wind died down that evening, and the fire was brought under control when it reached the grassy areas of Heatherbank.

Over the weekend of the 17th December the same members assisted in the search for a 65 year old lady who had left her home in Lorraine at about 9am that morning. The bushy areas of Lorraine and Kamma Park were scoured without success, and the search was called off at 10 that evening. Next morning early, it was reported that she had returned home unaided at 5.30am, before the search could be resumed. Thank you to the Division Two operators who assisted in the search.

And in Cape Town, we heard this week of two searches occurring simultaneously on Thursday night the 22nd December. Grant Southey ZS1GS, reports that he responded to assist at a search for a 20 year-old female, who had got separated from her family in Newlands Forest and not rendezvoused at 20h30 that evening.

The female and her family were visiting from Gauteng and she had spent the afternoon hiking alone in the area. She was in cellular contact with her mom and had sent her an image of her location but did not arrive back at the expected time. While a search manager was interviewing the mother of the patient, a second call for a male lost on the Hout Bay side came through. This meant that the teams that had gathered were split and some sent to Hout Bay while some remained at Newlands forest to search for the missing lady.

The Hout Bay call was on Kabonkelberg and the patient had comms via cell phone with the incident commander. He was advised to reserve the battery life for when help was closer so that he could be located more easily. Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC) and Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) were deployed as logistic operators to assist with that rescue.

In the meantime 5 teams of around three people each were sent through the forest to try to locate the missing lady in Newlands. From the image that was sent to her mother it appeared that she was at the contour path 2 hours before her last contact with her mom. Further information from a trail runner showed that she was higher than expected and a team was rerouted to the area and ultimately found her shaken and injured, but  still able to walk herself out most of the way home. However, she was piggy-backed on the last stretch, via Tafelberg Road.  She was transported back to Newlands Forest where she was reunited with her family.

At around the same time the patient on Kabonkelberg was reached and he too was in a exhausted condition and required the assistance of technical rescuers to get him to safety. He was brought down from the mountain and all parties stood down around 05:00 the next morning.

Both these incidents could have turned out tragically, as the weather was deteriorating, and during the night, some rain was experienced.

Grant thanks all those who assisted in the searches.

We congratulate a very active radio club in KwaZulu Natal, the Highway Amateur Radio Club, on its successful display at the Watercrest Mall recently, and reported on in the Highway Mail of 21 December. Members of the HARC are staunch supporters of HAMNET, and many assist with the communications at all the important sporting events in KZN, such as the Comrades Marathon. The display at the Watercrest Mall had the purpose of interacting with the general public, to make known the purpose of the club and to dispel any incorrect preconceived ideas they may have about our hobby. Interested parties may visit their website at www.harc.org.za.

Although the earth’s crust continues to fidget, there have been no severe earthquakes this week. Instead we are watching with concern two tropical storms that are threatening to make landfall soon.

The Philippines are again being threatened by a storm, this one tropical Cyclone NOCK-TEN-16, which is barrelling along from South-East to North-West, across the Northern aspects of the Philippines and towards the Chinese mainland. Maximum wind speeds so far have been measured at 194kph! The estimated population affected by Category 1 (120kph) wind speeds or higher is 12.6 million.

And on a smaller scale, North-Western Australia is being approached by Tropical Cyclone Yvette-16, which may broach the coast in the next day or two. However, wind speeds have not been measured at higher than 83kph yet, so the threat is currently not very great.

But spare a thought for Northern and Eastern Mongolia, currently experiencing vicious winter weather. Mongolia’s livestock and herders are at huge risk. Nothing we experience in South Africa can ever compare with this area’s weather, where temperatures are currently minus 56 degrees Celsius! Mongolia’s traditional nomads are facing a natural disaster known as ‘dzud’, where frigid temperatures and heavy snow cause widespread livestock deaths, threatening herders’ livelihoods. The region is now under 40 centimeters of snow, four times the usual level. The dzud of 2009-2010, one of the most severe in history, saw a total of 9.7 million livestock deaths. As many as 1.1 million head of livestock died last winter, and this winter doesn’t look any better.

On that chilly note, may I take this opportunity, on behalf of all HAMNET members, to wish you all a very happy and safe holiday, wherever you may be. Travel safely, remain vigilant, and above all, remain radio-active!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

Rescues – 22 December 2016

At around 20:30 a call came in for a 20 year old female who was overdue in the Newlands Forest area. I (Grant ZS1GS) responded for logistical support and arrived on scene at 21:00. The female and her family were visiting from Gauteng and she had spent the afternoon alone hiking in the area. She was in cellular contact with her mom and had sent her an image of her location but did not arrive back at the expected time. While a search manager was interviewing the mother of the patient, a second call for a male lost on the Houtbay side came through. This meant that the teams that had gathered were split and some sent to Houtbay while some remained at Newlands forest to search for the missing lady.

The Houtbay call was on Kabonkelberg and the patient had comms via cell phone with the incident commander. He was advised to reserve the battery life for when help was closer so that he could be located easier. Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC) and Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) were deployed as logistic operators to assist with this rescue.

In the meantime 5 teams of around three people each were sent through the forest to locate the missing lady. From the image that was sent to her mother it appeared that she was at the contour path 2 hours before her last contact with her mother. Further information from a trail runner showed that she was higher than expected and a team was rerouted to the area and ultimately found her shaken and injured but still able to walk herself out most of the way home but she was piggy-backed out the last stretch, which happened via Tafelberg Road.  She was  transported back to Newlands Forest where she was reunited with her family.

At around the same time the patient on Kabonkelberg was reached and he too was in a precarious situation and required the assistance of technical rescuers to get him to safety. He was brought down from the mountain and all parties stood down around 05:00.

These two incidents could have turned out with tragic consequences as the weather was becoming worse and during the night some rain was experienced. Thanks to everyone involved.

REPORT 18 December 2016

A fire has been raging just outside Plettenberg Bay in the last 2 weeks, with some 30 000 hectares of park land in the Garden Route National Park razed, evidence of the danger created by drought conditions.

The fire, mostly affecting the areas close to The Craggs (about 20kms outside the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay) was declared a fire disaster area. The fire which started on private land on Monday 5 December, jumped to the National Park and had an 11km long active fire line.

Dirk Smith, spokesperson for the Southern Cape FPA, said the western and eastern flank as well as the head of the fire were major concerns. “We had 180 firefighters on the fire line, including three tankers, as well as close to 20 management staff in control of this fire. The fire burnt mainly fynbos areas where there are no structures,” said Smith.

So far 30 000 Hectares of land have been burnt out, and parts of the burn remain very inaccessible in the mountains. Flares-up continue, in spite of some success with back-burns being used to prevent spread in certain directions.

Chris Warren, in his “Off-Grid Ham” blog says that, after careful consideration, he has realised that the random end-fed long wire is the best portable HF antenna for emergency conditions, that is easily erectable, and gives good result. After deciding that, he then looked at various versions of the end-fed long wire, and realised there are three possibilities, all based on simple premises. They should be of stranded wire for strength, at least 17 metres long, or greater than a halfwave length of the lowest frequency you plan to use, and all need an antenna tuner.

Your choices are:

1) Connect your long wire to the centre hole in the SO-239 of the tuner, and earth your tuner to a ground rod. Beware of hot spots along the wire or cable to ground rod where RF burns are possible. This antenna is easy but not very efficient.

2)This one is the same as the first, but you connect the earth connector of your tuner to another long wire, and lay it out on the ground below the antenna, to act as a counterpoise. This type will satisfy your tuner far better than the first.

3) In this construction, you connect coax to your tuner, and at the far end of the coax, install an “UNUN” balun, and connect both the long wire and the counterpoise to that. An UNUN is a simple transformer that matches an UNbalanced antenna to an UNbalanced feed line. This is not the same as a BALUN, which matches a BALanced antenna to an UNbalanced feed line. The UNUN is necessary if your operating position is some way away from where the antenna is sited.

Chris says this last setup is his favourite. The second choice might be ideal for a RaDAR field event, if you need to operate on several frequencies. If you are going to be active on one frequency only, a horizontal dipole cut for the frequency of choice is still the best.

Thanks to Chris Warren and his Blog for the contents of that insert.

And as I write this, news of a magnitude 7.9 earthquake has come through, at 9.51pm local time, Saturday evening, about 45 km east of Papua New Guinea’s New Ireland island, and not very far from last week’s quake near the Solomon Islands, slightly South-east of Papua New Guinea. A tsunami watch has been instituted, but luckily nothing has been reported yet, possibly because the earthquake struck at a depth of 73.4km.

In a message from Francois Botha, ZS6BUU, he says “The thought crossed my mind – the 40m band is dead currently. I would suggest that members – where possible – monitor their respective HAMNET Emergency Frequencies on both 2M and 70 cm links for possible traffic.

I am going to monitor 7.110 MHz, anyway but currently, it is of no use to man or amateur.”

He is about to move to Bloemfontein, and notes that, once there, he will become more active on the 2m and 70 cm links from there. For the rest he is going to try and erect some hidden antennas in his ceiling for 40/20 & 15 M either phone or digital communication.

We wish you well in your move, Francois, and hope you will settle in quickly!

If you are planning to travel over the next two weeks, and can operate VHF or HF from your vehicle, please monitor 7110kHz on HF, or a suitable VHF frequency for the Province or area you are in, and put out calls frequently to announce your presence, and to make it clear to others that you are listening. Please drive very defensively, and always presume the other driver is going to do something unexpected.

May I take this opportunity to wish all the listeners and readers a happy holiday, and a Merry Christmas where appropriate.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

Rescue 15 December 2016

At around 08:15 a call came through for a patient that had fallen 20-30 meters on Lionshead. Matt Feinstein (ZS1MTF) and Grant Southey (ZS1GS) responded as LZ operators and reported to Kloofnek. Fortunately the parking had not yet filled up and was still suitable for use as a landing zone. Matt secured the LZ with the help of SANPark Rangers.

Skymed flew in and inserted a rescue technician and medic into the field before landing at Kloofnek. The technician and medic took about 20 minuted to secure the patient and treat him on a dangerous slope before calling for Skymed to extract them. The patient and medic were hoisted out and brought to the LZ where the patient was handed over to a commercial ambulance company, whilst Skymed returned to the field to collect the rescue technician.

The rescue went according to plan and no notable issues arose. The patient suffered back and rib injuries but was fortunate in that he did not have a vertical fall but rather slid 20-30meters and was able to grasp at vegetation to slow the fall.