REPORT 23 October 2016

The second IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop was held October 11, 2016 in Viñadel Mar, Chile in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 XIX General Assembly. The event featured speakers on topics that relate to international issues facing Amateur Radio’s response to emergencies and disasters. The discussion, both inside and outside the workshop, focused on the themes discussed in the first workshop as well as new focus areas to address in IARU Region 2. Topics covered the use of Winlink, SATERN support for Salvation Army disaster response, the role of the ITU, developing operator and communications skills, AREDN mesh networking technology for disaster response, and emergency communications response in Venezuela.
Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, provided an overview of emergency communications activities in IARU Region 2 since the last workshop in 2013. Mike Corey, KI1U, briefed attendees on the findings from the 2013 Emergency Communications Workshop in Cancun. The availability of platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype, and similar virtual meeting programs make it possible to connect those in IARU Region 2 involved with Amateur Radio emergency communications. This could allow for coordination, training, and preparedness networking. Additionally it may provide a means for youth participation in virtual emergency communications workshops. Traditional means of Amateur Radio communication, such as voice and CW, are vital to our ability to provide emergency communications in IARU Region 2. We must encourage the development of operator skills through on air activity and continued training. Additionally, due to new and emerging communications needs, we must encourage the wide use of new technologies – radio email such as Winlink, mesh networking protocols like that presented by AREDN, weak signal modes, and improved health and welfare messaging – to meet the needs of served agencies. The IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators will explore the possibility of an online emergency communications resource library to be made available to IARU Region 2 member societies and Amateur Radio emergency communications enthusiasts.

Thank you to the Southgate Amateur Radio News for this précis of the IARU report.

Now, from Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman of the IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee, comes news that the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) was ready for JOTA last weekend but also keeping a watch on Typhoon Sarika with its winds and rainfall posing a threat. The Jamboree On The Air event had a group of 35 hams to support the opening ceremony, as adverse weather appeared. During the initial drama the frequency of 7.110 MHz was used as Typhoon Sarika with its winds and rainfall made its presence known in the area of Luzon Island.

No sooner had it passed than it was replaced by Haima, that increased in intensity with winds gusting to over 300 kph. Roberto Vicencio DU1VHY reports that HERO was ready as Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines forcing thousands to flee. The HERO net had 130 stations giving weather, power and flooding reports.

Other ham groups like the United Methodist Amateur Radio Club sent members led by DV1YIN, to travel north to the province of Isabela. The team of DV1YIN, DW1YMJ and DV1XWK made it to Santiago City, Isabela, after an eight hour drive and established HF radio contact. They advised that power had been cut and that phone coverage was intermittent.

Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rains, flooding towns and forcing thousands to flee to emergency shelters, and killing at least seven people.

Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole in the Atlantic, and Typhoons Sarika and Haima in the Pacific, the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today reminded policy and lawmakers of the vital role satellites play in providing communications and other important services following a natural disaster. Because satellite networks operate far above the earth’s surface, they are not vulnerable to damage by storms. Therefore satellite communications may often be the only way government and emergency first responders can communicate, track critical emergency assets and access valuable post-disaster imagery when terrestrial networks are damaged and are simply unavailable.

“Because satellite communications provide an unparalleled level of reliability and ubiquity, it is critical for government relief agencies, private enterprise and even consumers to consider satellite communications and other services when providing warning to the public or planning for emergencies such as a hurricane,” said Tom Stroup, President of the Satellite Industry Association. Because of this reliability, many satellite companies already have long standing relationships with a number of Government organizations both in the United States and around the globe. These relationships help to ensure that first responders and relief workers have access to vital communications and information wherever and whenever they are needed.”

The availability of reliable mobile satellite voice and data services for relief agencies and first responders following a natural disaster is already well documented. The use of satellite imagery and remote sensing data is also quickly becoming a key part to disaster response.

At 7 minutes past 7 our time on Friday morning, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Kurayoshi, in the Tottori prefecture of Japan, at a depth of 10km, and potentially affecting three million people within 100km of the epicentre. Houses were collapsed, and power outages reported, but apparently no widespread damage. People staying in evacuation shelters were supplied by local government with blankets and food. A tsunami warning was not issued.

And Oudtshoorn and surrounds had their own mini-earthquake this week, when a magnitude 3.5 shock struck at about 8.45 local time on Wednesday, just as tourists were about to enter the Kango Caves. Of course, further groups were prevented from entering the caves until authorities had confirmed that no structural damage had occurred to make the caves unsafe. I’m not sure I would have been keen to enter the caves later that day even if they had been pronounced safe! So far, no further shocks in the area have been reported.

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