Emergency Communications

GAREC 2015 details announced

The only international conference on Amateur Radio Emergency Communications will be held in June at Tampere, Finland, with the theme of ‘Cooperating with Authorities’.

Tampere saw the birth of the annual Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference (GAREC) in 2005. This vital conference has returned to that city, with all involved in emergency communications throughout the world being invited.

A prestigious keynote address will be given during the conference that is hosted by the Finnish Amateur Radio League (SARL) and organised by Finland’s national emergency communications society Suomen Radioturva (SRT).

The third largest city in Finland, Tampere has a lively engagement in providing emergency communications through SRT to the authorities.

Program Committee Chairman Dr. Seppo Sisättö OH1VR will review GAREC from 2005 to 2015, along with a non-government emergency relief agency.

The IARU Regional 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator, Greg Mossop G0DUB will chair a very interesting discussion on ‘Cooperating with Authorities - What have we done?’

The ‘Tools for Amateur Radio EmComms’ will be discussed, along with a ‘Long Range Provincial EmComm Repeater’ to be introduced by Juha Hartikka OH7HJ.

Reports are to be delivered from the IARU Regions 1, 2 and 3, in a session chaired by Jyri Putkonen OH7JP the SRT President.

Among the GAREC 2015 moderators are Merja Koivaara OH1EG, SRAL President, and a National Emergency Supply Agency Representative.

GAREC 2015 will be in the Hotel Cumulus, Koskikatu 5, Tampere, Finland on June 23-24. Many delegates can also travel to Friedrichshafen, Germany, and enjoy Europe’s largest Hamfest that starts on June 26.

A preliminary GAREC 2015 program, accommodation and registration are available at http://www.radioturva.fi/garec-2015/

Major flooding in two South-East Asian countries

Monsoon floods that hit parts of Malaysia and Thailand appears now to have eased but the big clean-up continues.

Johnny Tan 9M8DB of the Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitters' Society (MARTS) says the flooding is the worst for a long time in the north of Malaysia, claiming lives and forcing thousands to evacuate.

After being active on 7.110 MHz for some days, the official word is that all have now been stood down from maintaining links to handle disaster traffic.

Johnny 9M8DB says stations in Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Kemaman and Bachok remain active for a while for local welfare messages and urgent communications in the flood affected states.

Meantime the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) Secretary Champ Muangamphun E21EIC described the flooding in southern Thailand as not disrupting normal communications, such as mobile phone networks or the Internet. The need for emergency communications by radio amateurs was not needed, but support was available to help those in Malaysia.

Champ E21EIC says flood levels have decreased slightly while assistance by distributing food in flooded areas was under way.

- Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

Hurricane Watch net activated for Hurricane Gonzalo

The Hurricane Watch Net has been activated for Hurricane Gonzalo currently at sea in the Caribbean and expected to reach the British and US Virgin Islands.

The net is using 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. Please keep those frequencies clear.

It passed near Antigua as a tropical storm, tearing roofs from houses and knocking down trees before further strengthening and is now classified as a hurricane.

– Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

GAREC 2014 Summary Report

SUMMARY REPORT of the Tenth GLOBAL AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE (GAREC-2014),

Huntsville, Alabama, USA. 14 -15 June 2014

The Tenth Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference, GAREC-2014, took place in Huntsville, Alabama. It was hosted by ARRL Alabama Section and the Huntsville Hamfest Association and was attended by delegates from all three ITU regions.

Aside from standing items such as regional reports and a desktop exercise, presentations were also received on;

  • Emergency Communications as an element of promoting Amateur Radio amongst young people.

  • The Salvation Army\'s SATERN programme and its use of digital modes and remote control operation.

  • How the US Department of Defense utilises the Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) capabilities in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief activities..

  • The construction of a combined Emergency Services Dispatch Centre providing interoperable communications facilities.

    During the conference and in open sessions a number of themes began to emerge:

  • The importance of having meaningful conversations with our Served Agencies to ensure that we best meet their communications needs.

  • Attention should be focused on amateur radio as a trusted partner in emergency response at all phases of the communications life cycle.

  • Effective ways need to be found to use social media to circulate near real-time information on an event which do not compromise our relationships with served agencies.

  • More use should be made of social media to circulate information on GAREC itself, including video of the 2015 conference if possible to broaden the opportunity of outreach.

  • We reaffirmed that every country has different disaster response needs which reflect their unique situations and operational standards. The IARU HF Emergency Message Procedures, which includes elements such as net operation procedures, standard messaging protocols and activation protocols should continue to be developed to establish baseline standards between countries and regions. These recommended best practices are not intended to replace existing Standard Operating Procedures but to enhance them.

  • The role of amateur radio in emergency communications is constantly changing. Amateur radio must continue to adapt to the needs of our partners including embracing emerging technologies and new challenges.

  • The conference recognised that more needed to be done to reach out to our Served Agencies to promote our service. All GAREC participants past and present are invited to submit their ideas or examples of local best practice to the next conference in 2015.

  • GAREC participants recognise that in order to recruit the next generation of emergency communicators strong emphasis needs to be paid to recruiting new licensees to the hobby with attractive programmes training and support. Special attention is encouraged to develop youth and mentoring programmes.

  • Steps should be taken to develop procedures for the gathering and disseminating of near real-time information on the Amateur Radio response to incidents to aid situational awareness and analysis on a global scale.

The next GAREC will be held in Tampere, Finland in June 2015 and all groups and organisations involved in amateur Radio Emergency Communications are invited to attend to share their knowledge and learn from others.

The delegates wish to record their thanks and appreciation for the generous hospitality of ARRL Alabama Section and the Huntsville Hamfest Association for this successful conference.

Communications outages filles by Indian Hams

When the powerful Cyclone Hudhud swept into the Bay of Bengal coastal areas of India disaster authorities called on radio amateurs to help out.

National Coordinator for Disaster Communication, Jayu Bhide VU2JAU said, "In Odissa there are six hams working hard to maintain the communication covering the state. "The effect of Hudhud is now reduced and few deaths have been reported."

The media claimed that at least six deaths had occurred. That was good news for Odissa because locals feared the bad weather could be a repeat of the very severe storm Phailin in 2013. Before Hudhud with winds up to 200 km/h made landfall damaging buildings, power systems and the loss of communication in many areas, thousands of people were evacuated to shelters. While the worst of strong winds and heavy rain is over, the cyclone can still cause flash flooding and further damage. A full assessment must wait until the storm moves completely on.

Jayu VU2JAU said that active from the Bhuvaneshwar area are Preeti VU3UFX, Rajesh VU3PLP and Samir VU2AOR. In the Sambalpur area are Dilip VU2DPI who is control of a network of Shantanu VU2SIC and Pawan VU2PGU. These have been on air using 7140 MHz and have kept their stations open 24 hours a day. In the Andhra coastal area the total communication is handled by the National Institute of Amateur Radio, and is now under control.

Jayu VU2JAU from the IARU member Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), is monitoring emergency traffic from his home QTH in Gwalior.

Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.