HAMNET Report 22 October 2017

“Force of 50” volunteer Val Hotzfeld, NV9L, reported from Puerto Rico on October 15 that Amateur Radio volunteers on Culebra and in Fajardo — Jeremy Dougherty, NS0S, and Matthey Gonter, AC4MG — made it possible for physicians at the two locations to communicate directly in an effort to evacuate a patient who is an amputee.

“The chief doctor and the administrator at the Fajardo hospital were all smiles, as the doctor told AC4MG, ‘You guys saved a life today,’” Hotzfeld reported.

Sixteen Amateur Radio volunteers were stationed at hospitals, while another was at the fire station in Juncos. Another five ham radio volunteers were assisting Red Cross reunification teams.

Mike Logan, KM4WUO, arrived on October 13 — the first of 10 SHARES HF radio system operators. According to DHS, “SHARES members use existing HF radio resources of government, critical infrastructure, and disaster response organizations to coordinate and transmit emergency messages. SHARES users rely on HF radio communications to perform critical functions, including those areas related to leadership, safety, maintenance of law and order, finance, and public health.”

Dougherty, who was instrumental in saving the life of a burn victim last week, reported that fire-fighters on Culebra helped to re-install an HF antenna at the hospital there. “We had to climb a telephone pole off the edge of a cliff behind the hospital,” Dougherty said. “It was fun.” He also got their emergency VHF radio working again, and he presented a class to hospital staffers and first responders on how to use the Icom IC-706 that’s on site, encouraging them to get their ham licenses.

Jorge Ortiz-Santiago, WP4ONI, assisted with a reunification between a mother and a son in Jayuya.

By the 18th October, the “Force of 50” radio amateurs who deployed to Puerto Rico earlier this month as American Red Cross volunteers had ended their mission and will be back on the US mainland by this weekend. They have been in Puerto Rico for about 3 weeks.

“The Force of 50 volunteers demonstrated an extraordinary range of skills possessed by this accomplished team,” said ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF. “There was no task that they wouldn’t tackle. It also demonstrated the generosity of these volunteers, who not only performed their roles as communicators, but also engaged the population with their many acts of personal kindness.”

Val Hotzfeld, NV9L, who filed situation reports documenting the team’s activities, said the volunteers accomplished everything they went to Puerto Rico to do, “and then some.” She said that the Red Cross felt they had exceeded all expectations.

And in remarks made on International Disaster Reduction Day, Friday, October 13, Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) Secretary-General Bernadette Lewis described Amateur Radio as a “bedrock of sustained communications” during emergencies, and strongly suggested cultivating a new and younger generation of radio amateurs to carry this role forward. She spoke as part of a panel on emergency telecommunications during the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017 (WTDC-17), now under way in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The CTU, she said, has been considering the role of Amateur Radio in light of this “very, very, violent hurricane season.”

“Amateur Radio has been a staple, and it is because of…the Amateur Radio operators in the region that we get a lot of the information that we need,” she told her audience. Her presentation defined Amateur Radio as one component of the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts on the part of national emergency management agencies.

Moderator Vanessa Gray later asked Lewis what “one concrete step” could be taken to make better use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for disaster management.

“We really have to cultivate a new generation of Amateur Radio operator,” Lewis replied without hesitation. “We found that they are all on the northern side of 50.”

“Amateur Radio has been the bedrock of sustained communications during such emergencies,” she continued, “and one of the things we’re looking at is actually facilitating this process of having a network of disaster-resistant centres that, in times when you don’t have a disaster, could be used for training new operators and generating that interest across the region.”

We thank the ARRL Newsline for these two excerpts.

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, KZN Regional Director for HAMNET, reports that HAMNET KZN will be deploying 11 operators to assist with the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic Cycle Race this Sunday 22nd October 2017. It is estimated that around 10,000  cyclists will be participating this year. The event comprises a 106Km race starting in Pietermaritzburg, a 65Km event starting in Cato Ridge and a 35Km fun ride starting in Hillcrest. The 65Km and 35Km races start at 05H30 whilst the main 106Km race starts at 06H45.

The race follows the same route as that of the Comrades Marathon and enjoys full road closure. Hamnet has operators at each of the 5 water points situated along the route as well as an operator in the JOC at the Fire Station in Pietermaritzburg and the Ethekwini (Durban) Disaster management Centre.  A roving patrol will also be deployed should any incidents be encountered along the route.

Communications will be on 145.750 Midlands Amateur Radio Club repeater which will be linked to the 145.625 Highway Amateur Radio Club repeater giving full coverage of the route. APRS will also be in use and can be displayed on the video wall in the Durban JOC. DMR is also going to be used for the first time by us to manage this event with the Worlds View, Kloof and Ridge repeaters giving good coverage of the route.

The event finishes under the foot bridge on Masabala Yengwa Avenue (Old NMR Ave) outside the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium before riders make their way into the Suncoast Casino complex.

Thanks, Keith, I hope you will supply us with a short summary of the race after the event.

We are currently in the middle of the 60th Jamboree On The Air, so I encourage you who have time to look on the HF bands for Scouting Stations calling CQ, and answer their call. Perhaps you will generate an enthusiasm for amateur radio in the youngsters that will culminate in their writing the RAE, as so many keen new amateurs did yesterday around the country. We hope you found the exams to your liking, and look forward to welcoming you to the ham bands, and perhaps even to HAMNET, where you can offer your skills to help in natural or manmade disaster situations.

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