On Wednesday 29th of August the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management department held an exercise with the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station to test their disaster processes under the watchful eyes of inspectors of the National Nuclear Regulator. HAMNET participated with the exercise and were ready to provide emergency communication backup should any of the other existing services have failed (or be simulated to fail).
In matters of this scale there are multiple layers of redundancy to ensure that, even should multiple simultaneous faults occur for whatever reason, the situation would never put the general public at risk.
In preparation for the exercise, a mobile VHF/UHF cross-band repeater was installed at a high site known to provide suitable coverage to areas where other existing systems were struggling with coverage, and where coverage would be required.
Three HAMNET members participated with this exercise – Dean ZS1KP, Hendrik ZS1EEE and Alister ZS1OK. After setting up the HAMNET communications room at Goodwood for the specific requirements necessitated for this exercise, we were able to follow the development of the exercise from the spill-over JOC – which had CCTV coverage of the active Disaster Management Operations Centre – where the exercise was playing itself out.
As could be expected there were a couple of curved balls thrown at the emergency management committee, but these were all dealt with very well and in due process and time.
In the end, due to the specifics of this exercise, the HAMNET members earmarked to be mobile operators in support of the exercise were not deployed, but it was a good training ground to follow the process as it unfolded from the spill-over JOC.
After the exercise was concluded, the mobile cross-band repeater was retrieved, and in preparation for future events, the radio coverage in some areas, and this experience, is to be included in future operating procedures.
Thank you to Alister ZS1OK, for providing these notes of the exercise.
KCCI News at Noon on August the 29th stated that the hurricane that struck Puerto Rico in 2017 is now the United States’ deadliest natural disaster in the last century. A new study suggests nearly 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. The government initially reported the death toll at 64.
While volunteering on the island with the American Red Cross, Juan Trujillo helped an amateur radio group re-establish communication among hospitals. Through their HAM radios, Trujillo said volunteers were able to determine which patients needed immediate help and could help facilitate trips to San Juan by ambulance or helicopter.
“They were critical, but they were still alive in the facility they were brought into,” he said. “After that, we did not know. I did not know if they were going to make it or not. We did not (ever) have that information.”
Trujillo said he trusts the increased reported death toll because of the destruction he saw in Puerto Rico.
“We knew the activity was real,” he said. “We knew the emergency was really a true emergency for everyone.”
Trujillo said that, despite the harrowing moments, he would volunteer again in a heartbeat. “A little bit of help was provided by my doing,” he said. “So yes, I would do it anytime.”
Puerto Rico’s governor commissioned an independent review of how the island responded to the hurricane. Trujillo said he hopes the review helps the island prepare for natural disasters in the future.
Southgate Amateur Radio News has reported that the National Telecommunications Commission of Honduras (abbreviated CONATEL in Spanish), delivered radio communications equipment to COPECO on August 22, 2018, that had been donated by ITU for emergency communications.
Honduras is part of a pilot project of ITU that includes Central America and the Caribbean, aiming to achieve full implementation in South America.
Miguel Alcaine, ITU Area D Representative, said: “The most important thing is that CONATEL, COPECO and the radio amateurs start working with the WinLink tool. I am very happy to know that we are doing something before disaster strikes”.
Lisandro Rosales, National Commissioned Minister of COPECO, stated that “one of COPECO’s objectives has been the strengthening of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and, thanks to them, the institution has one of the most powerful communications networks of the region, with coverage of 95% of the national territory”.
Minister Rosales also said that “We have realized that telecommunications is a key element in order to give early warnings and to warn about imminent danger, or to coordinate assistance or reconstruction activities”.
The cooperation agreement also includes a training process. To this effect, COPECO technicians, along with professionals of the 911 National Emergency System and CONATEL personnel, initiated a series of workshops, with the support of Honduran radio amateurs.
Omar Paredes, HR1OP, secretary of Club de Radio Aficionados Central de Honduras (CRACH), commented: “This program and radio equipment will allow first responders that work during emergencies to send information through radio waves in high-frequency (HF) bands, when telephone and digital communications collapse or if there are power outages”.
Now, in news from the ARRL, a team of moonbounce enthusiasts expect to activate the 32-meter dish antenna GHY-6 at Goonhilly, on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall (IO70jb) in the UK, on September 1 – 2, operating as GB6GHY. The group, including G8GTZ, G8GKQ, and G4NNS, will be on the HB9Q logger while operational, which should be between 0800 and 1200 UTC, but “earlier if possible,” they’ve said.
GB6GHY will concentrate on 3.4 GHz on September 1 and 5.7 GHz on September 2, with the ability to switch bands immediately.
“Anyone with a relatively small dish (3-meter or less) should be able to work us,” their announcement said. The European Space Agency is undertaking a project to upgrade Goonhilly Earth Station to track missions to the Moon and Mars. The work will see the GHY-6 antenna — which carried the 1985 Live Aid concert around the world — upgraded over the span of 2 years.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.