HAMNET Report 17th December 2023

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, he of HAMNET KZN has sent me a report of the Upper Highway Trail Marathon held last Saturday. He says:

“Saturday 9th December, HAMNET KZN once again partnered with S.T.A.R.T Rescue to assist with communications for this annual event. S.T.A.R.T (Specialised Tactical Accident Rescue Team) consists of Netcare 911, Rescuetech, K9 Search & Rescue and their Horse Unit. 10 HAMNET KZN members were deployed, 2 of whom are active members of the S.T.A.R.T Rescue team.

“A Joint Operations Centre (JOC) was established at the beautiful finish venue of Camp Orchards in Hillcrest that was manned by Provincial Director Keith Lowes ZS5WFD for HAMNET and Justin Wright ZS5JW for the S.T.A.R.T team members.  HAMNET made use of the Highway Amateur Radio Club’s 145.7625 repeater situated in Kloof which gave excellent coverage of the whole route taking runners through 7 nature conservancies, 6 river eco-systems, 3 waterfalls and some of the most beautiful trails in the area.

“111 runners started the 42Km race at 05H30 with 5 Water Points, whilst 400 runners started the 17Km event at 06H00 with 2 Water Points en route.

“Weather conditions were ideal with cloud, overcast conditions and light rain for the duration. I am pleased to report that there were no serious medical emergencies.

“This was our final sporting event for the year, [so] thank you to my HAMNET KZN team for their dedication and loyal support during the year. You may take a well-earned break with your families but please remain vigilant and be available should a call for HAMNET’s assistance be received during the festive period.”

Thank you for the report Keith, congratulations to the KZN team on your regular and efficient handling of sporting events; and congratulations to you too, on a recent birthday. Hope you have many more like it!

On Friday morning the 15th of December, an unexpected HAMNET simulated emergency exercise was launched. At 06h30 that morning, local time, HAMNET National Director Grant ZS6GS released a report that an imaginary earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale had struck South Africa at 04h35 that morning.

Widespread destruction had ensued, leading to chaos and multiple injuries. HAMNET operators were to “survey the area” they were currently in and report to the “local authorities” via a central Operations Station. If no Ops Centre was available, they and anyone else on air were tasked to establish one.

All central operations stations were required to relay the reports to the National Coordination Centre.

Local repeaters for local Central Ops stations were to be used, with backup by HF, or digital modes such as Winlink, JS8Call, or VarAC; but DMR, IRLP or Echolink were forbidden, because the internet had failed during the exercise.

HAMNET’s current emergency frequency bandplans were to be employed.

Imaginary situations were to be created, including numbers of injured, damage to major structures or infrastructure in their area, as well as requirements for support. Strategic buildings such as hospitals and police stations were to be included, and a report compiled to be sent via radio to another operator or control station, using the IARU Region 1 messaging format for messages.

On all occasions, radio transmissions were to include the fact that this was an exercise and that no action was required.

After their stint was over, and the exercise closed, operators were to email their participation to the National Directorate, for reconciliation between messages sent and those received.

In the Western Cape, the Disaster Control Centre station at the Disaster Risk Management centre in Goodwood ZS1DCC was activated by 07h00 by ZS1MJT, who then fielded reports from a variety of suburbs, mostly on VHF FM frequencies, but also including APRS monitoring, with message handling as well.

By about 10h30, the chatter in Div 1 had died down, and Michael ZS1MJT collected the messages received, and closed down the control station.

It will be interesting to hear what activity took place in other divisions, and how religiously HAMNET members stuck to the script.

Thanks to Grant ZS6GS for choreographing the exercise. I sure hope we never do have an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in our land!

Now, how many of you believe, like me, that doctors are useless communicators? In interviews with patients who had seen other professionals, I was often astonished at how little the patients had been told by their doctors.

Reporting from the Boston School of Medicine, medicalxpress.com says that teaching is an integral communication skill central to the practice of medicine. The art of teaching extends beyond disseminating information. The skill directly translates to health provider-patient communication, the success of which is positively correlated with improved patient outcomes.

“Teaching is a large part of medicine—patient education is critical to providing high-quality patient-centred care. Education helps patients understand the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of their treatments and allows them to be better participants in their own care and in shared decision making,” said author Susan White, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

In an effort to foster near-peer inter-professional teaching and teamwork, the school has developed a curriculum using medical students as teaching assistants, called Educational Fellows, to work with students studying to become physician assistants (PA’s).

“Our Educational Fellows curriculum allows medical students to learn the art of teaching (pedagogy) and learning theory and to practice what they had learned in working with PA students in the classroom,” explains White, who also is director of the Physician Assistant program at the school. “We expect that the Educational Fellow experience will make those medical students better prepared for patient education.”

White and her colleagues present their experiences and lessons learned from establishing this program that 1) introduces select medical students to PA students in the context of a near-peer teaching framework during pre-clinical training; 2) trains the medical students in best practices of teaching and learning; and 3) provides an additional source of instructors for introductory science courses.

White believes the program could be modified for other training programs that use peer-peer or near-peer teaching for tutoring or as teaching assistants.

For example, PA students might work with students in nursing or physical therapy to provide tutoring or assistance in a lab setting, or Ph.D. graduate students might be teaching assistants for undergraduate courses. She hopes that all graduate-level programs in medicine will adopt the curriculum better to prepare their graduates to teach and educate their patients, whether it be bedside nurses teaching patients home care skills, or surgeons explaining a complex procedure.

Well, HAMNET members are skilled communicators. I’m sure we could teach doctors a thing or two.

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