Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KN4AQ, Oct 28, 2017.
The Maria storm impact and response brings to mind the Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 which was of similar scope although perhaps even more challenging considering the technology available at that time. The ARRL NTS was instrumental. I was a fresh BCB / SWL then, still two years away from Novice - General, but soon afterward became part of the Brass Pounder's League for awhile.
ARRL members have online access to the July '64 report. A pretty impressive read. Similar kinks and conclusions; need better plans and prep for the next one.
1964 - The Great Alaskan Earthquake hit Anchorage, drawing a massive amateur response in handling emergency and health-and-welfare traffic. It was the most powerful earthquake in North American history, and the second most powerful in recorded history of the world. There was sweeping destruction in the city and the region. George Hart, W1NJM, wrote about the amateur response in the July 1964 issue of QST: 314 Alaskan amateurs supported the disaster relief effort, with 1200 more from around the rest of the country actively supporting them.
Historical note for those not familiar; The 1936 floods in New England were the first significant event where amateur radio operators provided ad hoc assistance during a local and regional emergency. It served as the impetus for the creation of Field Day.
More important historical note: The ARRL has essentially always expected emergency communications to be handled as local events to be responded to by individual amateurs in an ad hoc (responsive and unplanned) manner as they are able.
The minor exceptions have been the creation of the Section Emergency Coordinator (EC) who is expected to be the fellow with connections to both ARRL HQ and local hams. The only planned effort is the relatively recent creation (last two decades) of the Winlink system.
Should the ARRL continue to meet occasional emergencies on an Ad Hoc basis or create a formal emergency organization with formal plans, rules, procedures, freq's, nets and regular activities for events that may occur only every one or two decades?
Volunteers become easily discouraged with bureaucracies and seemingly unneeded exercises. Examples: National Traffic System, NTS and the old MARS message handling system.
I suppose you are technically correct, although ARRL have pushed ARES pretty hard over the years You might also want to take a look a the last bullet point in the vision statement. But your point raises the question why Newington didn't defer to the local EC.
Well, certainly the local EC was overwhelmed, and HQ wanted to provide additional assistance, coordinate the efforts of the many volunteers, etc. Nothing wrong with that.
Bottom line: Whatever difficulties and frustrations were encountered by the ARRL50/22, their efforts where helpful and I'm sure, appreciated.
Managing Expectations: Unfortunately many hams expect the ARRL to somehow "Take over" all communications in a disaster area/emergency. However that isn't the purpose of the ARRL nor of amateurs. Despite the somewhat grandiose statements of purpose in the FCC regs, we are at best individuals who volunteer our personal efforts as we can.
Yep, was one of the 1200! NTS and ARRL were "involved" ... as I recall. All CW and no "days off" for a week. Smoked two 6146's in the ole DX100. Ran out of radio grams in the first hour. A "finest hour" .... for Hams for sure!
Times have changed and the sooner that hams figure it out the better. What's needed in most disaster areas today is a way for victims to use the technology they
already have and are familiar with. Some are going to hate this but if hams could come up with a way for people in a disaster area to use their cell phones and
cut out the ham middleman it would do much to solve the comm problems........oh, wait, the capability already exists in the form of 'COWS', cell on wheels. PR
was a very rare event and most recent disasters had some, if limited, cell service that was put to good use. Right now in PR there is Project Loon, cell on ballons,
that should tell you something about the type and demand for communications....it ain't 2 guys and Winlink.
The guys that deployed to PR did an exceptional job under the conditions, both natural and political, this is not a slam on them.
Agreed on all points! Last FD we deployed a Linksys WRT54G as an open access point - visitors could connect and send email from their cell phones (with WIFI) on the web via winlink or other digital modes. Also, visitors could access an information web page about Field Day, Amateur Radio in general and look at FD logs in near real time. DHCP & WEB servers on laptop along with RMS RELAY, and a few other apps. Easy to add forms, email templates etc for emergency situation use. Easy to do but not as exciting as SSB contact with Cuba!!
The BoD is the screen. Good Ole Boys don't screen eachother out. And when you can write whatever you want in your CV,...........
Edit: I'm addressing this at the HQ level, which is where the Field Level management came from.
What about it? And, it was a force of 22, not the marketing statement 50, and it would seem without competent, transparent, trustworthy management support.