Emergency Communications

Philippines Amateurs activate for Storm Events

Ham Emergency Radio Operations have been in support of two weather events in the Philippines, Kai-Tak and Tembin, which brought significant damage and loss of life.

The first was tropical storm Kai-Tak at killed about 33 people, followed by tropical storm Tembin that swept through the southern Philippines, with reports that 200 lives have been lost.

Roberto C Vicencio ‘JoJo’ DU1VHY says HERO had HF coordination through the national emergency net at 7.095 MHz with three nets being held, 0700, 1700 and 1900.

Local clubs embedded with the government responders used designated channels and club frequencies.

JoJo says Kaitak ravaged the Central Visayas area, almost the same entry point as the Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and maintained a stationary position for about three days.

“Much rain was dumped in the Samar and Tacloban areas of the Central Visayas region,” he said. “In situations like this, most of radio amateurs in the affected areas fold into the government's regional/provincial disaster risk reduction management offices to consolidate the actions of the amateur and civic groups as well as the military and police forces.”

But after a respite of two days the southern island of Mindanao was threatened by Tembin.

HERO reported that this was anticipated and the government was able to mobilise the assets of radio amateurs and civic communications group as well as the police and armed forces.

Joyo says the wind strength and volume of rains inundated the island and the system took a direct path from east to west of Mindanao island.

Flooding hit houses and many lives were lost when people were trapped in their homes by the flash flooding.

He said: “Bridges, roads and agricultural fields were damaged. There was a shortage of communications too. “Many major transportation arteries were affected further stranding others who tried to escape. About 200 have been declared dead with the final count not yet determined.” Ed Escabarte DU8EE embedded with the regional disaster risk reduction management office mentioned that search is ongoing for survivors and bodies.

It is only the start of the season for adverse weather in the Philippines, with the HERO network prepared for other activations.

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


Emergency communications activation in Slovenia

Tilen S56CT has reported the activation of Radio Amateurs in Slovenia on Saturday 9th December after heavy snow caused damage in a small region in Slovenia, Zasavje, affecting about 20000 citizens. Electrical power lines were down and consequently internet and phone networks. A lot of roads were also blocked due to fallen trees.

A large part of the major town, Trbovlje lost electrical power, including the 112 Emergency Call receiving station. Calls from the public were transfered from Zasavje region to the Call receiving station in Ljubljana. Slovenian call centers are also dispatch centres, so this increased their workload dispatching teams outside their normal area.

A few hours after the breakdown operators from the regional Emergency Communications group S50ATR (Trbovlje) organised themselves to offer help with redundancy communications between the centres in Trbovlje and Ljubljana. The Centre in Trbovlje was very happy to accept the help, so Matjaz S57MK and Roman S56HVF immediately went to Trbovlje with enough charged radios for the professional communications, Winlink through a connection to a local radioclub which had a Satellite internet connection and reliable electricity. Also communication through the FM/DMR repeater system was established and has served as a link between Trbovlje and Ljubljana. In Ljubljana the S50ALJ regional team has also been activated to assist the 112 centre  in Ljubljana using the S55DHF FM/DMR wide coverage repeater.

Zasavje region is known for its mountainous terrain and difficult radio coverage. Amateur Radio provides 3 repeater locations in that region along with a packet radio node on a TV tower, Satellite internet at the radio club S59DOR in Trbovlje and of course HF with Pactor, Winmor, etc. for Winlink.

All good examples of the diversity that amateur radio can bring to emergency communications.

Welfare Traffic to Dominica/Puerto Rico

The following update has been received from Jeff 9Y4J via Cesar Pio Santos HR2P the IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinator concerning the relief efforts in Dominica, with specific reference to Telecommunications.

"1. An emergency operating centre was activated using the call sign J73EOC, with batteries and a generator installed

2. The NEOC is being manned by radio amateurs, some of whom arrived from neighbouring countries.

3. Limited mobile service is available in the capital of Roseau with free SMS messaging and WiFi being provided

4. Troops from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, The UK, and France have arrived and are bringing some order back to the country after widespread looting.

5 The USA have started activating their citizens

6 The CEWN (Caribbean Emergency and Weather net) webmaster, Franz/J69DS has established a link from his server to the EOC in Roseau in order to pass on the more than 2,000 messages on hand.

7 The CEWN continues to maintain a watch on 7188 kHz and 3815 kHz daily.

8 Major infrastructural damage was done, thus limiting access to many areas on the island."

Clear frequencies for the CEWN would be appreciated.

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, radio amateurs have been operating brisk and busy ad hoc health-and-welfare traffic nets on 7.175 and 14.270 MHz. Only outgoing messages are being handled at the moment with incoming enquiries being directed to the American Red Cross 'safe and well' web pages. 2m is in heavy use supporting the restoration of utilities and law enforcement. Again clear frequencies for those listed and the Salvation Army SATERN net on 14.265MHz would be appreciated.

Carribean and Mexico Disasters - Update 3

Earthquake and hurricane emergencies

The 7.1 earthquake in Mexico that downed many buildings and killed more than 250, plus Hurricane Maria that swept through a number of Caribbean nations, have kept emergency communications frequencies busy with coordination and traffic.

Networks not in the affected areas, particularly the Colombia Amateur Radio League (LCRA), and in the USA, are seeking information about relatives in the Caribbean islands.

Reports are continuing from Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, which hit Puerto Rico, Dominica and Turks and Caicos.

LCRA is using 7.117 MHz for SSB and 7.085 MHz for digital modes, as well as EchoLinkCOL_LCRA conference.

The Amateur Radio League of Cali's HK5VD is in support, under the guidance of Juan Manuel Yanguas HK5AKN, the LCRA Emergency Coordinator.

The Columbian national VHF repeater system is also involved as the last delivery point trying to reunite families displaced by the hurricane and its aftermath.

The ARRL even suspended normal use of its Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station W1AW, to assist in handling outbound health-and-welfare traffic from Puerto Rico for the evening of Friday September 22.

The Salvation Army SATERN frequency of 14.265 MHz and similar activities are happening elsewhere as desperate people are trying all means to make contact with their loved ones.

Meanwhile Cesar Pio Santos HR2P, EMCOR IARU R2, has reported that radio amateurs are providing rescue groups and authorities with coordination help, and communications.

In Mexico the station XE2A is in control sending some radio amateurs to Morelos to help there with a radio base station to be installed for emergency traffic and coordination.

Typical of the volunteer work in Mexico is Jesus XE2JTC and Octavio XE2JUM, who have travelled with others in 4-wheel-drive vehicles carrying hydraulic equipment and units to support breathing.

Authorities in all affected places say the recovery work is continuing and will do so for a long time.

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


Carribean and Mexico Disasters - Update 2

Hurricane Maria continues to move through the Caribbean with Puerto Rico the latest to be affected, losing power and many cellular phone stations. The SATERN net is operating on 14.265MHz with bilingual (Spanish/English) operators looking for any messages out of Puerto Rico. It has been reported from the Dominican Republic that some Puerto Rico stations are operating on 7.085 and 7.095 MHz and they are communicating with those stations.

In Mexico the earthquake response continues and the 7.095 MHz frequency is also in local use there as rescuers move into the affected areas. Co-Operation is starting between networks in the area and between all countries in the Caribbean area and their assistance is appreciated.