Emergency Communications

Italy-Malta Co-operation in Emergency Communications

Following their successful involvement in an Earthquake simulation exercise in September Maltese Radio Amateurs were invited to take part in a second phase of the exercise on the Italian island of Lampedusa between 28th September and 1st October.

The team was very limited in the mass of equipment they could take with them and had about 100 kg of equipment including radios, power supplies , antennas/dish, coax , masts , tools , laptop excluding personal belongings in a backpack. Using this they were able to maintain contact between Malta and Lampedusa on 40m whereas signals on VHF/UHF and microwave were unstable even with yagis on both sides. Malta had an Amateur Radio caravan located at Dingli which had a clear take off to Lampedusa. The caravan is equipped from hf to microwave and had radio contact with the Maltese Civil Protection base of operation where messages were relayed to.

To avoid problems all exercise emails were passed from Lampedusa to Malta via fldigi and flmsg and emails would then originated from Malta with replies being passed back the same way. They also passed test messages to other amateurs who were willing to pass email messages on their behalf.

'Real world' problems included a 1 hour scheduled power cut at Lampedusa which the team were unaware of so they had to resort to borrowing a car battery to power up the base station for more than an hour as their other batteries were being used by the portable station at the site of the exercise. Mobile phone connections at Lampedusa were unstable but this just added to the realism of the exercise.   

The Maltese team operated with 2 persons per site in 12 hour shifts for the duration of the exercise which was again supported by the European Union. 


Chile Earthquake - 16 Sept 2015

At 2245 UTC on 16th September an 8.3 Magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile causing Tsunami waves along the coast up to 4.5m high in places. 11 people are known to have died with many more evacuated from coastal areas.

According to reports from Chile, Radio Amateurs from "RED Chilena de Emergencia de Radioaficionados" are operational on 7050 and 7080/85kHz working with ONEMI, the Chilean Governments Interior and Public Safety ministry to gather reports from rural communities. The networks have been supported by radio amateurs in Argentina and Peru.

The Amateur Radio community in Chile is well prepared for disasters with frequent drills, in recognition that the country is in a zone where seismic activity occurs frequently. Although most of the activity was immediately after the earthquake and tsunami warnings please remember that aftershocks may trigger an amateur radio response again.

Source: Marisa Tobella Pinto CE2MT, Cesar Pio Santos HR2P, Jim Linton VK3PC

Amateur Radio involved in major exercise in Malta

Radio Amateurs of the Malta Amateur Radio League (MARL) have completed their involvement in a European Union supported Earthquake simulation exercise in their country.

Around 300 participants simulated the scenario in which Malta was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the central Mediterranean area 120km South West of the island. Because of the size of the simulated event the Malta Civil Protection Department were assisted by the Presidenza della Regione Siciliana-Departimento della Protezione Civile in Italy.

The Exercise started at 1700 Local time on 3rd September and continued on until 5th September. As part of the support provided by amateur radio to the exercise, around 220 messages were passed on behalf of the emergency services. They also provided mobile radio backup in areas not served by PMR repeaters and an ATV stream from the exercise site to the base of operation. To demonstrate all the tools available to Amateur Radio they also used digital modes to pass text files, photos etc. between locations and also assisted with setting up of networks and other IT and technical support.

This exercise provided a great opportunity for Radio Amateurs to show what they can do in a disaster in Europe, raising awareness with the authorities and highlighting that disasters can occur anywhere in our region.

Tropical Storm Erika in Carribean

Radio Amateurs have been active in responding to the consequences of Tropical Storm Erika as it progressed through the Carribean.

The Radio Club of Dominica were active on 7.065MHz, 3.780MHz and local repeaters working with their Nation's Emergency Operations Centre, Civil Defence and the Dominican Red Cross collecting reports from their members around the country. The storm killed 20 people in the Dominican Republic as 200-300mm of rain fell in 12 hours causing flooding and mudslides. Damage assessments are ongoing in the country which was reported to have had widespread power failures.

Although the storm is officially classed as dissipated, fears over the remnants of the storm as it passes over Cuba and then nears Florida on Sunday mean that local emergency groups remain alert and other countries in the Carribean are also ready to respond if needed.

Although band conditions have been poor for the last two days, Radio Amateurs are requested to listen carefully when operating around the pubished Atlantic Hurricane frequencies to ensure that there is no interference to any emergency traffic.

Sources: César Pio Santos HR2P, Rafael Martinez HI8KW

Atlantic Hurricane Season 2015

Tropical Storm Danny moving over Puerto Rico and towards Cuba marks the first notable storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season this year. So it is time to remind the wider Amateur Radio community that the following frequencies may be in use by nets in North and Central America to track and deal with the consequences of these severe weather events. Radio Amateurs in Region 2 play their part in gathering and distributing information for the weather and emergency services as they do every year.

Radio Amateurs in Region 1 are reminded it is possible to cause unintentional QRM to these nets so please listen carefully if operating near these frequencies:

Caribbean Emergency & Weather Nets: 7.162 & 3.815 MHz
Eastern Caribbean Narrow Band Emergency System Net: 7.036 MHz USB (Olivia & MT63)
Caribbean Emergency: 14.185 MHz
Republica Dominicana: 7.065 & 3.780 MHz
Cuba: 7.045, 7.080, 7.110, and 3.740 MHz
Central America: 7.090 & 3.750 MHz
Nicaragua: 7.098 MHz
Guatemala: 7.075 MHz
Panama: 7.085 MHz
Mexico: 7.060 & 3.690 MHz

Maritime Mobile Service Net: 14.300 MHz
Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 MHz
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN): 14.265 MHz

Other local emergency communications groups may also activate if a hurricane approaches their area and those frequencies would be announced at the time.