HAMNET Report 19th July 2020

The ARRL Newsletter says that Indonesia’s International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society ORARI and the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia (LAPAN) have activated the IO-86 amateur radio satellite to facilitate emergency communication in the South Sulawesi province in the wake of flooding on July 13th. The disaster has affected nearly 5,000 families, according to Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB).

Heavy rains early this week swelled rivers and sent floodwaters, mud, and debris across roads and into thousands of homes, submerging many of them. IARU Region 3 Disaster Communication Coordinator Dani Halim, YB2TJV, reports an emergency post was established near the scene of the flooding. Some traffic is being handled on HF, and radio amateurs in Region 3 are asked to keep 7.110 MHz free for emergency communications.

Repairs to the power grid are under way. Local emergency managers and the Indonesian Red Cross have conducted a quick assessment in the field. The provincial road is covered in mud, preventing access to the main command post and the affected location.

As of July 15th, at least 16 people died, and 46 other individuals are missing. ORARI Local Soroako participated in activating the Masamba flash flood disaster relief program and proceeded directly to the disaster site. Carrying out communication support at the disaster site, ORARI Local Soroako — with Andi Baharuddin, YC8BR, who had first headed for the disaster site — and ORARI Local Luwu Utara were establishing emergency communication.

Greg G0DUB has sent a report about IARU Region 2, where Joaquin Solano XE1R reported that, on July 9th  an air ambulance en route from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island lost communications while they were more than 1,000 nautical miles away from the mainland. The pilot resorted to the frequency of Cadena Peruana de Socorro (the Peruvian Relief Net) in 7.100 MHz to ask for help. Luckily, Guillermo, OA4DTU, and Giancarlo, OA4DSN, were on frequency. Guillermo answered the call and then called Oceanic Air Control in Chile, the official entity in charge, which was already on alert after they lost contact with the air ambulance. The HF radio at Easter Island was not in operation at that time, which complicated the situation.

After several phone calls to that entity to let them know about the airplane’s position and route, approximately at 04:30 UTC, the pilot reported that he had made VHF contact with the tower at Easter Island and he had received descent and landing instructions.

This provoked the joy and relief of all those involved in the communications effort. Later, the pilot called Guillermo by phone to thank him for his help and sent him a photo of the air ambulance on the runway while they waited for the patient to be transported to Santiago, Chile.

This operation lasted about 3 hours, from the time of first contact until the airplane arrived at the destination, with messages of gratitude being sent by Oceanic Air Control to Guillermo and to Cadena Peruana de Socorro.

Once again, the positive role of the radio amateurs in risk or emergency situations is confirmed!

And the ARRL notes in its Letter for July 16th that ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE, reported this week that ARRL has received more than 8,700 online Field Day entries, and paper-only entries have started arriving too.

“As many participants chose to operate from home this year, and given the 2020 rules waivers, we have seen a tremendous increase in entries over last year’s event,” Bourque said. “Most of the entries received have been through the online web app, and Headquarters staffers have begun processing the paper entries this week.” The 2020 waivers allowed individual club members to attribute their scores to their clubs.

In a late report, the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) reports on the Red Cross Drill held on 30th May.

American Red Cross volunteer radio amateurs organized and conducted a large-scale nationwide emergency communications drill on May 30th, 2020. Planning began last November by a handful of Red Cross volunteers. Interest both within Red Cross and the larger radio amateur community grew and by May a thousand hams were registered to participate.

Training and exercises are held periodically under the provisions of the Red Cross-ARRL formal Statement of Understanding and this drill was no exception. ARRL’s ARES program provided hundreds of hams to support Red Cross in this simulated nationwide emergency. In all, over a thousand radio amateurs were active in thirty six states, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico.

Additionally, the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), with its strong history of providing emergency and disaster communications services, participated in this joint simulation. SATERN was activated in six states.

The drill scenario was a nationwide power outage with participating hams role-playing as “shelter stations.” (No drill participant was physically deployed at a Red Cross shelter due to the risks associated with COVID-19). For future drills, actual operation at Red Cross shelters and facilities will be planned.

For this drill, each “shelter station” ham was in an area that had no power, internet or cell phone service and the Shelter Manager needed to send a requisition for supplies. The Shelter Manager would hand the ham an ARC-6409 requisition form that would then be transmitted digitally, over radio, to a Divisional Clearinghouse. There were ten of these clearinghouses set up around the nation to serve as collection points for the 6409’s and other Red Cross forms. The Divisional Clearinghouses were assumed to be “high and dry,” with power and fully-functional internet. They would be able to collect the forms and convert them into plain-English documents to send to a conventional Red Cross email address, readable by a non-ham.

This event was a booming success. More than six hundred 6409’s were sent, along with three hundred ARC- 213 message forms and almost a hundred shelter reports and staff assignment forms, demonstrating the ability of amateur radio operators to process and deliver Red Cross forms in an emergency scenario with no internet, power or cell phone services. Cooperation between ARES and Red Cross was strengthened more than ever, thanks to this exercise.

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