IRESC - Haiti Earthquake Report

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by G4TUT, Jan 30, 2010.

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  1. G4TUT

    G4TUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    IRESC - Haiti Earthquake Report

    At 2153 UTC on Tuesday 12th January 2010, a magnitude 7.0Mw earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
    News reports soon revealed that this was a major disaster.

    Shortly afterwards, IRESC (International Radio Emergency Support Coalition) received, miraculously via email just before connectivity failed, a message from David Farquharson HH2QCS, who had helped with communications during the series of hurricanes that devastated Haiti in 2008. He had survived the earthquake but his home, high in the mountains above Port-au-Prince, was badly damaged.

    Nevertheless, he was heading into Port-au-Prince to see what he could do to help. He said he would try to set up his amateur radio station. He witnessed a two mile stretch of cliffs above nearby gravel pits collapsing and knew that many deaths were inevitable.

    IRESC went to a high alert level and commenced operations on their Echolink Conference with a formal net, hoping that some communications could be established either directly using VoIP or via a radio gateway situated within reach of Haiti. Manny Arroyo, NP2KW, was particularly helpful in making his HF Gateway facility available to IRESC from his advantageous location on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

    The IRESC Incident Database, which can be accessed by emergency agencies and can receive submissions directly from the general public, was heavily used to manage health and welfare enquiries and eventually stored over 300 items of information relating to the disaster.

    In the early phases of the activation, traffic was almost entirely inbound to Haiti. With no reliable amateur radio path, relatives’ enquiries were routed to the Red Cross and Salvation Army bureaux for processing.

    In the next few days, IRESC received further messages from HH2QCS and also from Jean-Robert Gaillard HH2JR; they made grim reading. HH2JR had lost several close family members. He also lost his cousin, Micha Gaillard, the Opposition Leader in Haiti. Jean Robert himself had been attacked by mobs. The two hams had not been able to communicate with each other since the earthquake.
    The desperate scenes described were shocking. HH2QCS was, by now, leading the communications team for one of the major medical centres in central Port-au-Prince and was struggling with limited equipment to re-establish internet communications, but he had been able to arrange solar power.

    IRESC continued to deal with the large number of hams seeking information. At one point, the IRESC Echolink conference had nearly 200 individual stations, links and repeaters connected to it.

    Because IRESC has members in over 50 countries, there was always a Net Control Station available who could operate during their local daylight hours, thus preventing exhaustion or overnight shifts. Members who spoke French were contacted in case this became the language necessary for traffic handling. Such members monitored the only radio station that managed to continue broadcasting on the Internet, Signal FM, and provided translations of the public message boards and news reports hosted on the station’s website.

    IRESC Net Control Station (NCS) operators were joined by colleagues from the National Hurricane Net, NIAR, HAMNET, ARES, RAYNET and others, to whom grateful thanks are extended. The net was streamed to the web via several outlets. HF communications were monitored in a variety of ways. In the region of 900 radio amateurs registered to become members of IRESC in a 72 hour period. All in all, this represented a truly remarkable international alliance between radio amateurs.

    As the relief effort developed, IRESC collaborated with the Maritime Mobile Service net. The MMS net operates on 14.300MHz, the internationally agreed ‘Centre of Activity’ frequency for emergency communications. The net was in regular communication with Father John Henault HH2JH, a missionary from the Ile-a-Vache off the SW coast of Haiti, who travelled to the mainland to provide assistance and to establish a ham radio station. Father John regularly provided essential information and requests for supplies, principally fuel for his generator. These messages were relayed to the IRESC Echolink net by Bernie Farthing NP2CB for onward transmission to a variety of support agencies. As well as more traditional routes, traffic was also being received via Blackberry and SMS text, with some Haitians even managing to report via Facebook. All of this data was collated on the IRESC Incident Database and forwarded as appropriate. The Database was made an open source for any agency that found it of use.

    IRESC Liaison Officer for the Eastern Caribbean, Julien Dedier 9Z4FZ, set himself up as a point of contact for radio amateurs travelling with relief teams, offering advice and assistance to smooth their passage through Trinidad & Tobago en route to Haiti.

    IRESC Liaison Officer for Israel, Pinchas Aviv 4Z5RU, set the Magen David Adom network of VHF repeaters to relay the IRESC traffic so that it was heard across the whole of the country.

    In conclusion, it is true to say that traffic out of Haiti was limited. The country’s infrastructure was so badly damaged that only the greatest of efforts lead to limited ham radio activity. The bulk of message flow handled by IRESC was of the Health & Welfare enquiry type. However, IRESC has benefitted from this significant mobilisation of its facilities; the learning curve has been steep and the debrief will be extensive. The IT systems, hosted on IRESC’s own servers, stood up well under the immense volume of activity.

    NCS operators were well supported by always having several Assistant NCS members to work with them in the background, controlling the various online systems, managing the Incident Database, logging and dealing with off-net communications – not as glamorous as a net controller maybe, but the bedrock on which our organisation relies. When the next emergency comes, many more key agencies and contacts will be aware of what IRESC has to offer and will come to us earlier. Better working relationships have already been formed.

    Correspondence was received from all over the world and diligently attended to. Radio amateurs worked with each other and found ways around the language and colloquial differences that will inevitably exist when the whole world meets in one place. But these radio amateurs had a shared goal – collaborating internationally is the very essence of IRESC - and the success of the operation demonstrates that it is possible to bring our diversity of cultures together in a single team.

    IRESC has now dropped to a lower activation level but the net control structure has remained in place should any further help be requested. The fully activated net operated continuously around the clock for 384 hours. A slower but steady flow of requests for information on the whereabouts of individuals continues to arrive.

    At 27 th January 2010, the Haitian President Rene Preval said that 170,000 bodies had been counted. 245,000 commercial and residential buildings had either collapsed or were too badly damaged to repair. Father John HH2JH, Jean-Robert HH2JR and others have continued to report in to the Maritime Mobile Service and SATERN nets.

    For further information, please contact Steve Richards or visit our website at

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  2. W8BAD

    W8BAD Guest


    These people are useless! I wonder why the article doesnt read " IRESC is totally dependant on echolink and pretends to use other modes of communications other then echolink. IRESC is totally dependant on one server in one location. IRESC takes credit for 2nd hand information which has been previously established on HF freq. I wonder why IRESC has Bi-laws in which they do not follow and self appointed officer's that have never went through IRESC's own established election process? I wonder how IRESC considers Echolink text something other then text?. I wonder if Dogs barking, 10 minute CW ID's and 6 minute dead keys within the IRESC conference is IRESC protocal. I wonder what EXACTLY is IRESC's role in emergency communications if either Echolink or the IRESC conference were down. I wonder why IRESC feels the need to call the FCC and Echolink admin, do to the fact that they have no control over there own conference and have no idea of how to control an echolink conference? I wonder why IRESC continues to portrey something it isnt, yet continues to take credit and release false information to websites like this? I wonder when will IRESC ever admit to what they are and accept the facts. IRESC is totally dependant on the internet,Echolink and one server at one location and they have no alternative means of communications...
  3. KE6ANM

    KE6ANM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    was mostly a bust.

    I monitored the node everyday for two weeks, and all the traffic was from hams in foreign countries and the US offering to help.
    any news from Haiti was just 2nd hand repeating of traffic heard on hf
    not one piece of emergency health and welfare traffic was passed to any one outside of Haiti by iresc.
    the concept is a good one, but with no ham traffic coming from Haiti to the iresc to be passed, it pretty much was just a social ip information node.
    the hams were vigilant and ready to work, but the iresc was of no use at all.
    the international com groups that flew in cell sites satellite phone and internet systems did all the emergency work.
    Me thinks the era of hams handling disaster communications is over.

    sat phones and sat links have taken over.
    nice try though.
  4. CE3BRA

    CE3BRA Ham Member QRZ Page

    IERSC operators from heaten houses are not really emergency volunteers

    Dear Friends
    The Haitins are a very poor country. You need to have a generouros heart to serve another poor man. In the US the average people really dont know the poor situation of another people that lives very close of your country. The average income of the US citizen is very high, the situation of Haiti is shamefull for all rich countries in the world.
    Same Radio Amateurs Amateur thinks that operating from heating houses they are members of Emergency Nets. How many amateurs goes to the Katrina Area to support people , in many cases they are with water in their houses, up their head , how many amateurs assist their collegues that have not food in the disaster.
    This is the question: To be member of any emergency net it necessary to go to disater areas, as a fireman, as young scouts to assist human people with problems. It is very easy to work by radio with good heating, good food, and TV , while other brothers die of hunger or they dont have medical assistence.

    I was membership of Chilean Emergence Net and we make emergency exercises, preparaid in first aid, and when we had same earthquarke we go to the affected areas to help persons in problems. We make camps, as the scouts, put our antenas in the trees and help the people. This is the only way to be a membership of a radio amateur emergency net.

    IERSC has the best intention, but really they dont make anything to support the disasterof the Haitian People.
    IERSC must to organizate volunteer hams to goes to disaster areas in the wordl with equipments and support equipment to assist people in problems with different comunication systems .

    Our Country CHILE ; send 4 airplanes with many young people to assist the Haitian People. For example: young scouts, fireman, SOS montains rescue society , students of nurses and medicine for first aid , etc. came there , all are volunteers without any payment and they have radio ham equipment , especially in VHF ranges , as hand and base radios. All teams have the security support from our Chilean Army and Air Fources based in Haiti.

    Kind Regards and God Bless:)

  5. K4WGE

    K4WGE Ham Member QRZ Page

    All these Haiti threads have given me many callsigns to add to my Ignore List. There are many truly hateful, toxic people on QRZ, and whenever negative posts are to be read, it's the same list of naysayers. What is missing in their lives that makes them so destructive?

    My best regards to those who continue to try to do good in ihe face of the unrelenting attacks.
  6. KE6ANM

    KE6ANM XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    No body said the crew didn't try, the net iresc node just didn't work this time, commercial first responders, military and tv networks with sat equipment did the job just fine.
    ham radio played almost no role in this disaster.
    You cant send emergency traffic back and forth if no hams were in Haiti.
    I understand that their were hundreds of offers of help to pass info by outside hams, but none really was.
    I'll say it one more time.
    you cant send amateur radio emergency traffic to and from a country that has no hams in it.
    the three hundred items were repeats of info heard on hf by other hams.
    this was more like a dx cluster at best.
  7. W8BAD

    W8BAD Guest

    Personaly (ya I know I know) I wish to see IRESC succeed and improve. Thats a majority of the problem with these people and it really makes me fustrated. This CLUB has been together since the tsunami relief net. Yet they have only made one change in all that time. A change I promoted to them. My point is if you want to pretend to help and take credit for other hams hard work, whatever. If you truly want to help get serious or get out of the darn way. People seem to think I want to bring down IRESC. Why would I want to do that when I help create it? I want them to recognize the issue's they have the faults they continually deal with and the lack of real committment to actually producing a real service to all people on a global scale. Not just take credit for crap they had nothing to do with. The only thing IRESC is good at is releasing this crap to media and website's like this... Shut it down or fix it or continue to deal with people like me. Stating the facts, faults and TRUTH about IRESC and its selfproclaimed officers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2010
  8. KF4RCA

    KF4RCA Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Haitians should have never run the French out.

    They sure could use their help now.
  9. W1QO

    W1QO Ham Member QRZ Page

    That really sums it up. About as effective as it would be for a disaster in North Korea or Burma.

    But there is one important difference: it's not due to a lack of freedom. It's due to a lack of order. Haiti wasn't stricken with poverty by some chance. It is a failed state, like Somalia. But beyond that, it is a failed society.

    One of the important facts that's going to be lost in this latest tragedy is that Haiti didn't get that way overnight. They have now had generation after generation without training stewards for their society. Engineers, doctors, mechanics, teachers, lawyers, builders...

    Haiti is a magnificently beautiful land in paradise. This land could provide for all the needs of a million people. But what happens when babies are born so fast that a city that can accommodate 50,000 people is overrun with more than 2,000,000? The predictions of Malthus come true and you start to see society crumble like Ethiopia did.

    Advancing is no longer an option. Survival of the fittest, read meanest, is the name of the game. If 40 people are competing for the resources of one person, there is no time for building upkeep and maintenance. No time to think about clean water. No time to read a book. The law of the jungle takes over. And anyone familiar with Haiti knows those roving mobs were there before the earthquake. Before the hurricanes. Before the US intervention.

    The value of anything is inversely proportional to the number of whatever it is. Supply and demand. As cruel as it may be, human life is no different. Once the population cat is out of the bag, there's no putting it back. Not even war will do that. The island can barely sustain its population at a subsistence level. Real help is about 30 years too late for the island.
  10. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Muchas gracias, Arturo, por su y la gente de Chile para ayudar la gente de Haiti.

    Setenta tres,
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