HAMNET Report 5th November 2023

The ARRL letter of this Thursday says that Radio Amateurs are still providing communication services to and from the affected areas in and around Acapulco, Mexico.

On the morning of Wednesday, October 25, 270km/h winds from Hurricane Otis knocked out all communications and unleashed a nightmare scenario in Acapulco. The area is home to roughly 800,000 people.

Radio Club Queretaro member Ruben Navarrete Galvan, XE1EC, told ARRL News that amateur radio operators are still active with multiple operations, and they are receiving citizen requests to obtain information on the whereabouts of their relatives.

“We keep an online database with these requests that we share with the different hams participating in the operation. Read-only access to this database is provided to the authorities who might need it, too. We also transmit this information to hams deployed in the Acapulco area via HF,” Galvan said.

Additionally, hams in the Acapulco area are trying to locate civilians using their own resources. Some of these hams are operating their equipment on battery power, while others have access to generators. Accessing many areas in the region has been a challenge due to the amount of debris blocking travel

Amateur radio operators have also been receiving requests from Acapulco residents to call their relatives and let them know they are fine. Those requests are transmitted via HF to the Emergency Net Operator, and then the call is made to the family members.

Galvan also reported that hams have been providing communication between state agencies and their field personnel deployed in the Acapulco area. “At least three state agencies have hams on their teams. This is the case for the states of Durango, Morelos, and Santiago de Querétaro. We have been communicating their messages to their central coordination via HF relays. Requests for specific requirements have been escalated to the support teams. Air medical services have been directed to areas that were not being attended,” he said.

Just too late for inclusion in last Sunday’s bulletin, Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, of HAMNET KZN sent me a report of the radio comms during the Amashova Durban Classic cycle race of 22nd October.

He notes that eleven Hamnet KZN members were deployed in very challenging weather conditions to provide communications for the Amashova Durban Classic cycle race held that Sunday..

Thunderstorms, heavy rain, strong winds and misty conditions prevailed throughout the day to keep [them] on [their] toes.  This also had a major impact on participants as 1893 did not start the race although they had registered.  This was likely due to family members not prepared to take unnecessary risks with potholes hidden underwater and slippery road conditions.

The 38Km race from Hillcrest and 65Km race from Cato Ridge started at 05H00 whilst the 106Km from Pietermaritzburg started at 06H00.

Communications were via the 145.7625 Highway and 145.750 Midlands Club repeaters with the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at Suncoast Casino in Durban manned by Keith ZS5WFD.

Operators were situated at five Water Points along the route with one Roving Patrol crewed by Deon ZS5DD and Troy ZS5TWJ that had full route access.

Apart from a number of private vehicles entering the closed route, no other serious issues were reported.  One cyclist was admitted to hospital suffering from a dislocated shoulder. Three other cases involved cuts and abrasions but they were treated and discharged.

An initial report of a serious accident on the N3 freeway at Cato Ridge caused some concern in the Durban JOC as this could have resulted in traffic having to be diverted onto the alternate route which would have required possible stoppage of the race. Fortunately, the incident had been cleared prior to the arrival of the Emergency Services and no further action was required.  This was an important lesson, as if action had been taken without first verifying the initial report it would have had a major negative impact on the event. [The message is] “Verification before Action”.

Thank you to the team that braved the miserable weather to ensure the successful outcome of the event, on behalf of the organizers and Keith himself.

He regrets to have to bid farewell to Hamnet KZN members Peter ZS5HF and Hettie ZS5BH as they are emigrating to Australia at the end of November. This was their last sporting event with HAMNET KZN, so he expresses his sincere appreciation for their loyal support of HAMNET over the past years and wishes them every success in their new ventures in VK land.

Thanks for the report, Keith. I’m glad the weather didn’t make matters too difficult for your group.

Talking about reporting about things, Grant ZS6GS, our National HAMNET Director, has sent an email to HAMNET Members who are involved with the dissemination of information of the public relations type.

He correctly feels that we need to put more effort in to informing both radio amateurs and the public of what HAMNET is there for, what it can do, and what it has done, in the way of service to the community.

Anette ZR6D is tasked with posting any and every news item she hears about on Facebook, Grant ZS6GS will manage Instagram and Twitter (or X) feeds, Brian ZS6YZ will manage the reporting of the very busy time which HAMNET Gauteng South seems to experience, and I will continue providing a bulletin on the website and both Facebook pages.

This may succeed in bringing to the attention of all, the many endeavours we do get up to, but which seem to slide under the radar, and are never reported on.

In this connection, I appeal to everyone who involves him or herself in activities involving radio, to remember to write a short report of a paragraph or two, and send it to me for distribution amongst the PRO group just mentioned.

You can reach me at zs1dfr@gmail.com

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