HAMNET Report 11 February 2018

Riaan Greeff ZS4PR has sent me a very comprehensive report of the 2018 Value Logistics “The Fast One” Cycle Race, held on the 27th of January. He says Gauteng South, West Rand and Vaal Region HAMNET members teamed up to provide the main communications interface for the event.

On behalf of Leon ZS6LMG and Glynn ZS6GLN, he writes “Just under 5000 cyclists entered this annual event this year.  Regular planning meetings involving the event organisers, the Rotary club, The Midvaal Raceway owners, the Midvaal traffic department, SAPS, the volunteering car guard company in Meyerton, all the sponsors and the emergency services in the form of St. John Ambulance and ER24 ensured that the event started off on a smooth note on Saturday 26 January.

HAMNET set up the operations centre, installed and activated additional 70cm repeaters and used the 145.6375 Vaal Triangle repeater for the main communication services.

APRS tracking units were installed in every ambulance, sweep vehicle and the lead vehicles.  In the operations venue the different representatives of each organisation were set up to connect with their own people via radio and/or cell phone contact.  The cyclists were given access to “MySOS” as a service to send emergency messages to HAMNET.  The national HAMNET phone lines were also active.

HAMNET used an electronic dispatching system for the first time, to manage the dispatch and tracking of all resources.

Every vehicle with APRS tracking was also in contact with the operations centre via UHF repeater coverage.  It is essential that all vehicles on the track have direct communication with the communication centre at HAMNET, since HAMNET provides the most effective interaction between all the parties involved.

Some experiments with the Vaal DMR repeater, as well as the East Rand DMR repeater, also proved successful and this may be a way forward in future events since these repeaters also work very well.

In the operation centre all the APRS positions of all the units around the two routes of 48km and 96km were tracked in real time and displayed on LCD projectors.  These clear and up-to-date displays were very efficient in the transfer of location and real-time incident reporting.

Feedback after the event from the Rotary Club and organisers confirmed that HAMNET was a key role-player in the success of the event.  Swift reaction to the accidents on the route ensured that the ambulances were dispatched to the correct places, saving time.

The team of 24 SARL HAMNET members are keen to return in 2019 for the next event.  Being visible and efficient makes this service such a success.  The public and the people involved all played their parts and HAMNET through amateur radio ensured smooth operations.

Over all, the race had very few casualties, in fact less than 2017, and this is partly due to the effective communication service rendered by HAMNET.

Thank you Riaan, Leon and Glynn, for sending us the photos, and for keeping our flag flying high!

On a smaller, but just as important note here in Cape Town, HAMNET managed the race communications for the 99er Cycle tour yesterday the 10th February. For the tenth time in a row, we provided all the roving stations for the short 64km race, and the long 99km distance. The Western Cape had been promised about 10-15mm of rain overnight by the Clerk of the Weather, but he/she was hopelessly wrong, with less than 5mm measured. However, the little rain did cool the day down, and the wind was mild, while some cloud kept the race temperatures in the early 20’s.

The Metro Incident Command Centre bus was used by the medical team, and two HAMNET members managed radio communications with 10 Rovers out on the route, divided up into suitable sections. All Rovers, all ambulance and response vehicles, and the three main sector marshals, were monitored on APRS, which was enhanced by a temporary digipeater installed on the slopes of the farm Meerendal, as a gap-filler for blind spots.

The long race set off at 06h00, and the winners were back by 08h35, while the short race started at 07h30. Three thousand one hundred riders rode the two races, and a cut-off to weed out the stragglers was effected at 10h30 about 30km from the finish for both races, while the race closed at 12h30. There were a few minor injuries, but no serious multiple pile-ups, and all the plans to manage major catastrophes were unnecessary. In fact the race was mildly overshadowed in Cape Town by the fire which broke out at Mitchell’s Plein District Hospital, almost requiring us to surrender the Metro Bus for use managing the fire. We understand there were no actual casualties at the hospital, but over 200 patients had to be transferred to other facilities. Never a dull moment in Cape Town!

Anyway, the race authorities were their usual magnanimous selves in thanking HAMNET Western Cape for contributing to a safe race, and we arrived home in the early afternoon after a job well done. This author thanks ZS1’s EEE, OSK, DAV, PXK, JM, VDP, JNT, GS, XS, CO, S, DUG, MOM and OK, for their generous help.

The Cape Town Cycle Tour comes next down here, for part of which HAMNET shepherds the riders, and then at Easter, the Two Oceans Marathon takes place, for which we take full responsibility for the roving, and the cut-off points.

There has a been a 0.7 percentage point drop in the dam water levels in Cape Town, to 25.1% this week. However, because the agricultural quotas for the season  down here have been met, future water usage will diminish a bit, and so our predicted day zero date has been shifted out to 11 May. It is clear that more people are trying more to live on as little water from their taps a day as possible. The inhabitants of Cape Town will never look on water as a  never-ending supply ever again.

Even if the drought is broken, it will be very difficult not to shower with a bucket between one’s feet, or not to attempt to use the same litre of water as many times for as many purposes as possible! Never a dull moment in Cape Town!

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