Emergency Communications

Hurricane Alex 2016

Radio Amateurs in the Azores are preparing for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Alex on 15th January.

The Atlantic Hurricane is the first to form in January since 1938 and has developed from a sub-Tropical Storm to one forecast to bring maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour ( 140 kph ) to the Azores, an island chain 850 miles west of Portugal that's home to about 245,000 people.

Carlos Nora CT1END of the Portuguese National Society REP reports that local amateurs are standing by on 145.525MHz FM ready for the storm which threatens the islands with a maximum 7 inches ( 17 cm ) of rainfall possible and the chance of flooding or mudslides.

The storm is expected to weaken late on Friday after it has passed over the islands.

Info: CT1END, www.gdacs.org

GlobalSET 2015 - Report Published

The final report for the Global Simulated Emergency Test held on 18 December 2015 is now available from this website.

Although there was a lot learned from the exercise, it was generally a success in demonstrating the speed that amateur radio can respond to an incident and a dramatic increase in the number of Radio Amateurs who took part compared to earlier events. Of over 8000 amateurs contacted as part of the event, around 20-30% stated that they would be available to respond in < 1 Hour depending onthe IARU region concerned.

The report has already been distributed to Emergency Communications Co-Ordinators around the world but it is emphasised that this was not a contest about who could be quickest to respond. Instead it is hoped that it will cause more discussion about how to improve our resilience and be used to assist planning and talks with our Served Agencies.

To download the report in English click here , in Spanish click here , and in Romanian click here.

GlobalSET 2015 - Exercise complete

The Global Simulated Emergency Test ( GlobalSET ) started on 18th December with a 24-48 hour timelimit for Emergency Communications Groups around the world to carry out an availability exercise, contacting their members to find out how many would be available within 1-12 hours.

38 countries took part in the Test, 22 from Region 1 and while initial results have proved that amateur radio can respond quickly to an emergency call, even one on a working day, there has also been a great deal to learn about the reliability of the systems we use and the resilience of our structures.

All webforms used for collecting data for this exercise have now been closed and the results are being analysed with the target of the exercise report being published to Emergency Communications Groups by 25th December.

Thanks to everyone who took part in this valuable exercise.

Typhoon Melor ( Philippines )

Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) activated its Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HERO) last Saturday in view of the imminent traverse of typhoon Melor ( Locally called Nona) through the Philippine archipelago as announced by the National Traffic System Chairman DU1VHY Jojo Vicencio on air during the 7am DU NET.

As of this time, Melor is traveling westward. The weather.com.ph service site issued a bulletin at 8:00 P.M. local time saying that the "the Eye of Typhoon MELOR has made its second landfall over Bulusan, Sorsogon at around 4-5 PM this afternoon. It is currently moving towards Ticao and Burias Islands.

Stormy Weather will continue to prevail across the Bicol Region throughout the evening. A Weather Philippines Automated Weather Stations (AWS) in Casiguran, Sorsogon (Brgy. Central) has recorded a Typhoon Force Wind Gusts of 185 kph from 5:10 PM to 5:20 PM today."

HERO is using 7.095 MHz LSB as its calling frequency for emergency traffic and PARA has requested neighboring member associations to keep clear of the frequency except for emergency traffic.

ORARI has abided by the PARA request and some of its members could be heard last Sunday December 13, 2015 requesting stations straying into the frequency to QSY. Danny Halim, YB2TVJ, was heard requesting YB stations to QSY and to keep the frequency exclusively open for emergency traffic.

Starting as early at 5:30am of December 14, 2015, Jojo, DU1VHY; Thelma, DU1IVT and Romy, DU1SMQ were on hand to monitor the frequency. Stations from the Eastern Visayas or DU5 area previously hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, ACCESS5 and RADNET5 ham clubs and those from the Bicol region or DU4 area, ACES, ARCC, AREA, CANORA, CARE4 and ISLACOM ham clubs, checked into the emergency net and reported their preparations.

Nona (Melor) made it first landfall in the vicinity between Catarman, Northern Samar and Sorsogon in the Southern Luzon. Stations in Eastern Samar and Tacloban City were on hand to cover whatever eventuality.

Some hams are embedded in their local disaster risk reduction and management councils/offices. Also very active is the station of DV5PO Lester Price of Borongan, Eastern Samar in giving updates.

At midday, the province of Albay declared a state of imminent emergency and declared all work suspended, declared no-classes for all levels, and closed down commercial establishments. The declaration is the go-signal for local government units (LGUs) to activate government spending for emergencies and disasters. Pre-emptive evacuations were done for coastal towns in danger of dangerous storm surges on both DU4 and DU5 areas since Sunday as reported by HERO stations.

As the storm progresses through the Bicol region, PARA members continued to give reports on 7.095 with their back up power. The projected typhoon path is westerly through Sibuyan Sea towards the islands of Masbate and a possible third landfall in the northernmost part of Oriental Mindoro near the municipality of Calapan by tomorrow, December 15.

-Ramon J. Anquilan DU1UGZ

Flood disaster in India - hams provide help

When the torrential rain fell for several days in South India, numerous areas were flooded. Authorities, hundreds of houses submerged, and the death toll was at about 300 and rising.

Gopal Madhavan VU2GMN reported that some areas had 3 to 4 metres of water which meant that all ground floor houses were inundated and owners lost everything. He said the flooding hit an area of more than three million people in Chinnai, with responders from the army, navy, home guards and the national disaster action forces all involved with rescue and relief work. Hundreds of injured people were taken to hospitals.

Gopal VU2GMN said most hams were also isolated in their homes as normal passenger cars could not negotiate the high waters. He also reported that the power supply was cut off in most areas as the electricity distribution systems were under water. The mobile phone and landlines were drastically affected.

Gopal VU2GMN said: "Once it became possible to move, hams started going out assisting with delivery of food and water to stranded individuals, and with rescue from tall buildings where people were trapped." National Coordinator for Disaster Communication in India, Jayu Bhide VU2JAU put out the call for more help with emergency communications. Already a network was on two local VHF repeaters that continued to work well, and the 7.090 MHz frequency was mainly on standby for long distance work.

Jayu VU2JAU explained that traffic being handled including distribution of food, locating missing persons and other information. He said: "The number of hams has increased substantially, a control room has been established to coordinate efforts and more volunteer organisations have swung into action to provide food and water. "Many mobile ham stations are now active to become active in locations not possible earlier." Without recharging power the depletion of hand held transceiver batteries was a problem, but battery powered mobiles were able to help keep communication going.

Hams continued their work that is expected to take several days, while recovery from the disaster is likely to take a number of months. Rail services were diverted to Chennai to carry food and other essential supplies, while the nearby busy international airport was closed for a time disrupting flights, but seems to have returned to near normal. Many industries in the large city were also shut down, along with the state-run Chennai Petroleum oil refinery.

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