HAMNET Report 22nd December 2019

We start with two rather dramatic HAMNET reports from HAMNET Gauteng South, and via Anette Jacobs, ZR6D. She tells me that, at 18:12 on the evening of 13th December 2019, a call went out on the HAMNET Gauteng South Emergency Telegram group that Deon ZS6DAB had been shot close to the East Rand Branch highsite in Brakpan. Deon ZS6DAB, Leon ZS6LMG and Neil ZS6CKC had been working at the highsite sorting out a problem with the repeater. Deon having left the high site on his way home was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and landed in the middle of a cash-in-transit heist on Springs Road, close to the intersection with Ergo Road. Deon managed to turn his car around to escape, but one of the robbers managed to empty an AK-47 magazine in Deon’s direction. Deon realised that he had been shot and managed to drive back to the ERB highsite where Leon ZS6LMG and Neil ZS6CKC were still closing up the site. Leon and Neil immediately rushed Deon to the closest hospital with shrapnel in his lower back.

A number of the HAMNET Gauteng South members assisted on scene to close off the roads for the SAPS and preserve the scene. Some members who had been trained in helicopter operations assisted with preparing a landing zone for a Netcare helicopter to land and to airlift another unfortunate person also at the wrong place at the wrong time with a bullet in the chest to the Union Hospital in Alberton.

We are pleased to be able to report that Deon is now making a full recovery at home and that the other victim of this senseless crime is also expected to make a full recovery.

Thanks to the HAMNET members, who through their training were able to respond fast and effectively and prevented the loss of lives with this incident.

Deon, we sincerely hope you are already in a good state of health.

In the other report received on Friday, I read that, at around 16:00 on 16th December a report was received that there were two boys in difficulty in the Blesbok Spruit on the outskirts of Springs. Three HAMNET members Neels ZS6NR, Diederich ZS6DVL and Theo ZS6JFW, who is also qualified as a Basic Ambulance Assistant, responded.  They assisted the SAPS getting ropes ready while waiting for the SAPS Dive Unit to arrive. The SAPS Dive Unit succeeded in rescuing the two young men who were holding onto the reeds to keep them being swept away by the current. They could however not find a third missing person. HAMNET also assisted in contacting Chaplains to provide counselling to the friends who were also present at the scene. The search was called off due to fading light and continued the next morning where Neels ZS6NR and Leon ZS6LMG assisted the SAPS divers by providing them with waterproof radios to use on the water. A K9 dog quickly identified the spot where the divers recovered the body of the missing swimmer. Thanks to the Hamnet members who assisted with this incident and our condolences go out to the family and friends of the drowned swimmer.

Certainly high drama in HAMNET Gauteng South! Thanks for the reports, Anette.

And while the Overberg area in the Western Cape seems finally to have gained control of the huge bushfire, which  started in the Greyton Nature Reserve last weekend, Australia continues to fight equivalent fires, but in temperatures which have been quoted to break national records for two days in a row. The Bureau of Meteorology released figures there on Friday showing the hottest day recorded from 700 weather stations across the country being Wednesday, at 41.9C, up from the previous day’s record of 40.9C. Now remember to get an average of 41.9, you need some stations measuring higher than that, say 45 or 46, and others lower than that, say 37 or 38, to get your average of nearly 42, for the whole country! Astonishing stuff!

Here’s good news from the world of Ebola. The first Ebola vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a single-dose injection called Ervebo. The vaccine from Merck & Co. is approved to protect against the Zaire ebolavirus in people ages 18 years and older.

In the United States, Ebola infections are rare. Confirmed cases have involved people in other countries who became infected and then travelled to the United States or health care workers who were infected while treating Ebola patients, according to the FDA.

“While the risk of Ebola virus disease in the U.S. remains low, the U.S. government remains deeply committed to fighting devastating Ebola outbreaks in Africa, including the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Anna Abram, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy, legislation, and international affairs, said in a statement. “Today’s approval is an important step in our continuing efforts to fight Ebola in close coordination with our partners across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as our international partners, such as the World Health Organization.”

The world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak is ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The largest outbreak occurred from 2014 to 2016 in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 died. The FDA said Ervebo’s approval is supported by a study done in Guinea during that outbreak, as well as studies in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Canada, Spain, and the United States. Ervebo was shown to be highly effective in preventing infection in people exposed to the virus there. Thanks to Medical Xpress for this report.

Writing on the IARU-Region 1 website, Monty OE3VVU, and Lisa PA2LS, tell us that last week, 12-15 December, Winter YOTA with the theme “Let’s go PA” took place. The 4th sub-regional Youngsters On The Air event of 2019. 35 Youngsters from 10 different countries took part in the event, held in Oosterhout, The Netherlands. In 3 days, the youngsters learned a lot about the amateur radio hobby. Many of them discovered new things to delve into, like satellite communications. Many had the opportunity to have their first QSO’s on HF, VHF or via QO-100 using the special event callsign PA6YOTA. This week was also about learning activities and skills which the youngsters can take home to their countries and use to get more youngsters fascinated by the hobby. Combining amateur radio with fun activities with like-minded youngsters is the key to spreading the hobby amongst young people.

And on that encouraging note, may I take this opportunity on behalf of all of HAMNET, to wish you all a happy and safe holiday. This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.