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Subj: The ARES Letter for October 20, 2021
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            The ARES Letter

Published by the American Radio Relay League

October 20, 2021

Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE <>


- Hams Support Chicago Marathon
- Can an Amateur Radio Handheld Stop a Train? Texas Club Averts a Train
- ARRL Simulated Emergency Tests Underway; Early Reports In
- The Longest Day: Providing Communications for the LoToJa Bike Race
- Ohio Amateur Radio Involved in State Planning for 2024 Solar Eclipse
- FEMA - A National Leader in Disaster Communications
- ARES Resources
- ARRL Resources

ARES® Briefs, Links

ARESLAX, an arm of the ARRL Los Angeles Section, has used a $23,600
grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications <>
to purchase equipment that will help ARES team members to locate and
eliminate sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) that could
hinder their operations.

"ARESLAX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supporting emergency
communication initiatives of the Los Angeles Section's ARES program,"
ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF, said.
"Earthquakes and wildfires are the primary disaster threats this region
faces. Because these incidents occur without any advance warning,
disaster communication groups in the Los Angeles Section must maintain
a high degree of readiness."

In conjunction with International ShakeOut Day
<> on October 21, 2021, the Winlink Thursdays
EmComm Training <> group will introduce the
new Did You Feel It (DYFI) Winlink template form for this week's
Winlink Thursday exercise. See the group's website for details on how
to participate. The Did You Feel It (DYFI) system was developed by the
US Geological Survey (USGS) to tap the abundant information available
about earthquake effects from the people who experience them. By taking
advantage of the vast number of internet users, and amateur operators
with Winlink radio clients, the USGS gets a more complete description
of what people experienced, the effects of an earthquake, and the
extent of damage. And best of all, with the amateur radio community's
help, they can do so rapidly.

2022 ARRL National Convention Emergency Communications Training Track
-- Plan on attending the 2022 ARRL National Convention, set to take
place at Orlando HamCation® <> on February 11
- 13. A day-long workshop on emergency communications is scheduled as
one of the training tracks that will be offered as part of the National
Convention program that will precede HamCation on Thursday, February
10. The training presentations will feature current protocols,
techniques, and responsibilities for the modern volunteer radio
operator serving partner agencies and organizations. The presenters are
all subject-matter experts. Topics to be covered include the ARES,
AUXCOMM, and Florida Emergency Communicator Position Task Books, an
overview of amateur radio responses to disasters, basic voice traffic
handling with hands-on voice traffic net/message transfer practice,
using the ICS-213 form, Winlink's ARDOP (Amateur Radio Digital Open
Protocol) and VARA protocols, and the Radio Mail Server (RMS) hybrid
internet/HF radio gateway system. The event will be held on Thursday,
February 10, 2022 at the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.
Participants should arrive at the hotel, check in at 8 AM, and be in
seats by 8:30 AM. A National Convention Luncheon (for everyone) runs
from noon to 1 PM in the banquet room. The track ends at 5 PM.

Visit the ARRL Store for items of special interest to the ARES
emergency communicator <>.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency
Communications Division (ECD) announced the release of the updated
National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG). NIFOG Version
has been many months in development.

The NIFOG is a technical reference for emergency communications
planning and for technicians responsible for radio, telephone,
satellite, and internet communications, that will be used during
exercises, special events, or disaster response. It includes rules and
regulations for use of nationwide and other interoperability channels,
tables of frequencies, standard channel names, and other reference
material. It is also a great one-stop reference guide. A PDF version of
the NIFOG 2.0
can be viewed and downloaded on the CISA/SAFECOM
<> website.


A team of 135 ham radio operators from the four-state region supported
medical teams volunteering for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon
<> on October 10, 2021. The Chicago
Marathon is the third largest marathon in the world. This was also one
of the largest events Chicago has hosted since the pandemic shut the
city and the Marathon down in 2020. This is the 13th year that ham
radio operators have partnered with the medical teams to help them
coordinate medical responses, arrange for medical supplies to be
redeployed and provide situational awareness for the organizers.

Ham teams are often built around veteran operators, but this year, many
newly minted hams applied, most of whom have had little or no public
service experience. The ham team leaders offered several Zoom training
classes before the event to get everyone acquainted with the event and
their respective roles.

The largely flat marathon course has 20 aid stations on its 26.2-mile
course, and each has a Course Medical Tent. Hams are deployed at each
medical tent, and are there to provide critical communication for the
medical teams. Each Course Medical Tent has a team of about 15-20
doctors, nurses, massage therapists, and other specialists.

There are two main communication nets: a medical net and a logistics
net. To support those nets, the hams use nine repeaters. Most of the
repeaters with course-wide footprints belong to local clubs, but hams
also deploy five special use temporary repeaters. They also have
several backup strategies in case of complications. For instance, this
year, they had to abandon one key logistics repeater because of RFI
noise that was not experienced previously, and so the entire team moved
quickly to another repeater channel.

While one job is to pass urgent medical traffic to the ambulance
company that sits next to the hams in the Forward Command tent, hams
also provide situational awareness reports to the organizers. They
report the number of patients being cared for at each Course Medical
Tent, and the stress level the medical teams face in providing

    care. Stress is a subjective value, but does communicate to the
medical director if a situation is growing more complex. Higher stress
levels can be the result of an unusually high number of patients,
reduced supplies or a sudden increase of serious medical cases.

At each Course Medical Tent, the hams are also responsible for changing
the Event Alert flag. This is an innovation that was introduced after
the near-disastrous 2007 Marathon when the high heat and humidity
forced the race to stop. That became a very complicated problem,
because runners didn't want to stop running and the organizers did not
have systems in place to communicate to the field. The organizers came
up with a visual way to show the runners what the course conditions
were, so runners could better adjust their pace. The EAS conditions are
green, yellow, red, and black. This year's event started in yellow
because of the unusual heat, and changed to red because of the humidity
and the increased potential for serious heat-related injuries.
Generally, when a red flag is displayed, many runners adjust their pace
and often start walking. This helps to cool them down and prevents many
serious injuries.

Following the 2007 event, the organizers reached out to the ham radio
community to see how they might be able to help. Once a proper role was
defined, it was agreed that hams would serve the Medical Director and
provide health and welfare traffic. Doctors, they admitted, preferred
to serve patients and would rather not be responsible for
communications. They seemed happy to pass those tasks to a ham radio

Most of the hams communicate using FM repeaters, largely because those
repeaters are in place and many hams have that equipment. They have
experimented with Fusion and DMR radios. DMR is used with the teams on
the final mile, where teams of hams work with a team of medical
personnel. Historically, the last mile has proven to be the most
dangerous area for runners.

The hams serve as communicators and call for additional medical support
if such support is required. Ham teams also work in small tactical
teams that roam the finish line area. If a runner collapses for any
reason, spotter towers call out the person to the rapid response
medical team to provide aid. Each medical team has a ham to handle
communication. If the case needs to be escalated, the hams call into
Forward Command to dispatch mobile professional medical teams to

In Forward Command, the hams have 10 people who serve as net controls,
traffic handlers, logging specialists, and expediters. They work
alongside the ambulance company and the resources of the entire city of
Chicago, so if the Medical Director wants water to spray on the runners
to help cool them off, the ham might need to communicate with the fire
department to find out whether certain hydrants need to be opened.

The event has plenty of personal challenges for the hams. Many report
to their duty stations very early in the morning so they can do roll
calls at 6 AM, and many remain on course working until the event ends
around 4 PM. Rain or shine, snow or wind, the hams and the medical
teams must adjust to the weather. Hams also serve the aid station
(co-located with each Course Medical Tent), which can have as many as
300 volunteers handling water and Gatorade. In the event of an
emergency, hams shadow the aid station captain to facilitate
communication back to Forward Command.

All communication from the Course Medical Tent to the Forward Command
tent is handled with two mobile radios - one dedicated to medical
traffic, and the other for logistics. They in turn talk to the
remaining members of their team using simplex frequencies. Three
stations provide local wet-bulb readings to the meteorologist sitting
in Forward Command. He happens to be a ham as well, and provides custom
forecasts for the event.

Hams are not the only communication link these days. Everyone has cell
phones, and the race does have its own network of commercial radios,
but those are used for race operations. Cell phones have proven to be
unreliable when there are so many spectators lining the park and
streets. Ham radio provides an independent resource to the event
organizers that can be a backup to all other communication. The hams
also created a remote backup command post that the city command center
can use in the case of an emergency when continuity of operations is

Like hams who serve other large public events, the primary skill needed
is the willingness to serve the event and its Medical Director. It
demands a commitment to perform and execute at a high level.

Hams today compete with many other services to be relevant. Staying
focused on the customer and delivering quality service keeps us at the
table. Chicago has been recognized for how well it integrates all of
its resources, and the hams have been publicly recognized by FEMA
observers for their performance.

Ham radio is important, but it is just one small component of this very
complex event that demands 20,000 volunteers to be successful. Ham
radio has a unique role, and it works right alongside the other
specialty service groups. -- Rob Orr, K9RST, Glenview, Illinois


Every year in the city of Weatherford (Parker County), Texas, the Peach
Festival is held. As part of the festival, a bicycle ride - the Peach
Pedal -- is conducted, supported by the cooperative efforts of local
amateur radio clubs and their volunteers. This year, the Triâ-County
Amateur Radio Club of Azle, Texas, performed the preâ-event legwork
and organized the net control operators, rest stop operators, and the
SAG (support and gear) vehicle operators. The Amateur Radio Club of
Parker County and other clubs' members were signed up for other various
radio positions to support the bicycle ride event. The forecast was

The net control plan also called for a Parker County RACES operator to
work the radios in the Parker County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
This operator would be able to help with radio traffic between the
Fire/EMS Dispatchers, the bicycle ride amateur radio net control, and
the county Sherriff's deputies performing traffic control at busy
intersections. The usual ride startâ-up radio traffic came and went,
and then the calls for SAG began to increase for flat tires, broken
chains, muscle cramps, and exhausted riders.

And then, cutting through the steady amateur radio traffic between the
net control, rest stops, and SAGs, a SAG radio operator's voice could
be heard transmitting, "Emergency, Emergency, Emergency." Mike Burns,
KE5NCS, SAG 3 was sweeping the 61â-mile course northbound on Bennett
Road, following a pilot car and tractor/lowboy trailer with a large
piece of equipment. The tractor-trailer high-centered and stopped on
the Union Pacific Railroad road crossing. And then Burns heard an
eastbound train blowing its horn for the road crossing. Net control Jon
Diner, N5JLD, issued a standâ-by, hold all radio traffic order, and
transmitted, "Go ahead with your Emergency traffic, SAG 3."

Burns then transmitted: "Yes, there is a lowboy heavy equipment hauler
with a bulldozer on it that just got highâ-centered on the railroad
tracks at Bennett Road and Goen Road; it can't move, and there is a
train coming." In the EOC, the Fire/EMS dispatcher said, "What did he
just say?" just as net control N5JLD transmitted, "Please repeat your
Emergency traffic."

The EOC Ride Control operator, Thad Weikal, KG5ATD, turned up the radio
audio to near maximum so the dispatcher could hear the radio traffic
clearly. As SAG 3 KE5NCS was repeating his Emergency traffic, the
dispatcher said, "I am getting Union Pacific Railroad on the phone
right now." Weikal at the EOC used a Fire/EMS radio to make a
county-wide call to the county law enforcement dispatcher: "County,
this is EOC Ride Control with Emergency traffic." The county dispatcher
replied, "Go ahead with your Emergency traffic, EOC." "County, the
railroad tracks at Bennett and Goen Roads are blocked by a
tractor-trailer hauling a bulldozer, and there is a train approaching."
The EOC dispatcher said, "Uâ-P has put out an all stop on all trains
on that track." A County Deputy asked, "EOC, what was that location?"
"Bennett Road and Goen Road." "Copy, I am en route," followed by radio

When the EOC dispatcher's phone rang, the dispatcher answered and
relayed, "Uâ-P says that they are showing all trains at full stop on
that track." Weikal made a radio call to the County dispatcher, saying,
"County, this is EOC Ride Control, Union Pacific is reporting all
trains at full stop on that track at Bennett Road." "County copies
that, EOC." Weikal then made a radio call to the ride net control,
N5JLD: "Net control, this is EOC." "Go ahead, EOC." "Net control, Union
Pacific is reporting all trains on that track at full stop." "Copy
that, EOC." "SAG 3, net control." "SAG 3, go ahead." "SAG 3, EOC is
reporting that Union Pacific is showing all trains at full stop on that
track at Bennett Road." "Uh...yeah...I can see...that...." -- the
eastbound train had stopped 30 yards short of the tractor-trailer.
There were no injuries or equipment damage. Weikal reported the road
crossing clear 1 1(tm)2 hours later. Yes, an amateur radio handheld can
stop a train.

Thanks went out to all amateur radio volunteers and fire/dispatch
operators for their quick effort to help narrowly prevent a disastrous
collision between a train and a tractor-trailer hauling a bulldozer
with a gross weight of 186,000 pounds. -- Thad Weikal, KG5ATD, Amateur
Radio Club of Parker County (Texas) Director


Strong SET Turnout in Illinois: A Guide for Future Exercises

With some 150 ham radio operators from across the state participating
in the ARRL Illinois Section Simulated Emergency Test (SET) on October
2, 2021, coordinators Robert Littler, W9DSR, Illinois Section Emergency
Coordinator, and John Zelz, W9ZE, the Assistant SEC who ran the
Saturday morning exercise, termed it "a resounding success."

The SET, which ran from 8 AM until noon CDT began with a general
"Wellness Net" to encourage participation from all areas and
disciplines of the state's amateur radio community, with an emphasis on
those operators who participate in ARES activities throughout the year.

Approximately 150 HF/VHF/UHF/Echolink stations checked in during the
Wellness Net. The SET HF Net was in session from 9 AM to noon with more
than 50 stations checking in. There were also 45 VHF/UHF stations with
formal traffic listed. The individual ARES Districts reported a similar
number of VHF/UHF stations with traffic.

"We were extremely pleased with the response in this modified exercise
that followed the plan of another exercise we conducted in the spring
as part of an ongoing effort to hone the system used to train amateur
radio operators in the event of a catastrophic emergency in Illinois
and their interaction with counterparts in nearby states," said Zelz.
Plans are already in motion for a spring 2022 version of the SET to
further expand and enhance the exercise's operating efficiency. --
Vicky Whitaker, KD9BAU, Illinois Section Public Information Coordinator

Northern Florida County's SET Brief, Thinking Out of the Box,
Successful Exercise

An ARRL Northern Florida Section county group held its SET on October
2, based on the scenario of using non-traditional alternative power
sources, with formal situation reports and survivor outbound messaging.
Using the DHS Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Protocol (HSEEP),
the Alachua County ARES group created an exercise to test the ability
of funneling neighborhood situational reports through the local EOC in
the event of a disastrous cyber-attack. Coordinators added an
additional twist -- the simulated emergency environment had all the
volunteers with no electricity and having exhausted "normal" backup
fuel and batteries, forcing them to use a nearby vehicular battery or a
portable solar power system to provide power. (Pre-wired, already
existing vehicular mobiles were not allowed). The objective was to have
team members develop techniques and assets to allow them to leverage
any available battery.

Communications Planning was objective #1 of the written HSEEP
objectives, so local ARES Emergency Coordinator Jeff Capehart, W4UFL,
conferenced to work through the thorny issues of what frequencies and
techniques would work with literally no remaining repeaters,
digipeaters, or Winlink RMS stations operable within 1,000 miles.
Members began to grasp that the EOC would be a bottleneck if all
traffic had to go through that well-equipped but tiny facility -- and
the exercise called for participants to send a simulated outbound
"survivor message" (Health and Welfare) to some friend or relative.
After a lot of ideas were evaluated, Capehart came up with a workable
ICS-205 frequency list that included voice and data avenues on both VHF
and HF, due to the size and geography of the county, which made simplex
VHF unlikely to span the distances without "human relays."

Despite all these daunting obstacles, on the day of the brief 2-hour
exercise, 15 participants in various capacities examined just about
every method of extracting electrical power. Two participants deployed
solar panel systems. Several conquered RFI-hash from inverters by
separating them with extension cords. At the EOC, participants
completed two wiring upgrades to make it much easier to move the EOC
radios off of the backup generator and onto polarity-protected
connections to any of the ARES group's multiple lead-acid or LiFePO4
batteries, and operated not only the radios but all the computers on
storage batteries. This section of the SET appeared to be a huge win
for the group.

In the communications portion, participants had their choice of
multiple methods to move neighborhood-structured SHARES SPOTREP-2
reports with randomly assigned local situations, including multiple
simulated reports of "smoke seen" or "firefights heard." HF Data (both
peer-to-peer local Winlink and distant-RMS Winlink) was the runaway
winner in this dire scenario, with 18 total formal messages moved,
followed by VHF voice with seven pieces of traffic moved, HF voice with
six, and VHF (packet) data moved one message.

A news release to a local high school club resulted in three families
(seven total persons) visiting the EOC, who stayed for over an hour
observing the three busy ham volunteers handling simulated emergency
traffic. Others visited one of the neighborhood volunteers to observe.
Thus, the SET was judged to be a phenomenally successful outreach
opportunity by the SET group. Participants enthusiastically reported
their trials and successes at the half-hour hotwash Zoom session that
immediately followed the exercise.


More than 100 amateur radio operators from five states, plus their
helpers (more than 135 in all), provided communications and other
support for the LoToJa bike race on Saturday, September 11. LoToJa runs
through three states, starting in Logan, Utah and ending in Jackson
Wyoming, thus the name "LoToJa."

LoToJa has grown into one of the nation's premier amateur cycling
races, and continues to be a grueling test of one's physical and mental
stamina. Many compete to win their respective category, while others
just ride to cross the finish line. At 200+ miles, LoToJa is the
longest one-day USAC-sanctioned bicycle race in the country. Cyclists
must conquer three mountain passes as they pedal through the scenic
terrain of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming en route to a finish line below the
rugged Tetons at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

In addition to communications, the amateur radio operators provide
basic first aid and mechanical and wheel support to the more than 1,700
cyclists. They call themselves the LoToJa hams. Coordinated and
organized by the Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club located in northern
Utah, amateur radio operators join in from nearby clubs along the
route. This is the 30th year that the amateur radio community has been
helping with LoToJa.

"Our goal is the help the cyclists, their support crews, and their
families have a safe and enjoyable event," said Kevin Reeve, N7RXE, the
coordinator of the amateur operators and communication systems for
LoToJa. "LoToJa is such a great event for amateur radio operators to
participate in," said Tyler Griffiths, N7UWX. "It is the ARES radio
operator's dream event -- we know where it starts, we know where it
ends, but everything that happens in between is different from year to

The team deals with real-time situations, from accidents and other
emergencies, to communicating about needed supplies, and calling
ambulances and medical support. Fortunately, the LoToJa hams group
includes some professional medical personnel, and is able to handle
many issues, but it is common to have four ambulances called during the
206-mile event.

Ted McArthur, AC7II, leads the communications infrastructure team for
the LoToJa hams group. The team deploys two portable repeaters on
mountaintops, and six portable APRS digipeaters and IGates. In all,
nine amateur radio repeaters and several simplex frequencies are used
throughout the event. APRS plays an important role, according to
McArthur. "With the number of mobile vehicles needed to meet a growing
event increased, net control stations were spending a lot of radio time
asking for position reports. We needed the air time for real traffic
like helping cyclists, emergencies, and other critical traffic." Each
year after the event, the team spends time evaluating the APRS coverage
and paths to digipeaters and IGates. Tweaks are then made to improve
next year's effort.

It takes a team of 12 to organize the efforts on the amateur radio
side. From coordinating vehicle rollout at the starting line, to
staffing the four command stations, checking out first aid and
mechanical kits, and getting things ready for the event. Some of the
radio operators have been helping with LoToJa for 20 - 30 years. Every
year there is room for a few new radio operators, but what makes the
amateur radio portion of LoToJa successful is those who come back year
after year. They know the routine, they just need updates, course
changes, and additional training determined over the last year. -- Pat
Malan, N7PAT <>, South Jordan, Utah


At first, it seemed to be a bit of a reach - launching planning for an
event 2 years in the future. But as Ohio Homeland Security/Emergency
Management planners explain, the predicted solar eclipse promises to
bring hundreds of thousands of people into many Ohio counties - and
Ohio agencies such as responders, hospital and medical providers,
highway crews, and tourist organizations will need to be prepared for
the onslaught. Mass care, communication, possible shelters, and many
other aspects have to be carefully provisioned. Complicating this, the
date for the eclipse is April 8, and Ohio weather being what it is at
that time of year, spectators could be in conditions ranging from 2
feet of snow to 80-degree temperatures.

Included in the planning was "Ohio Amateur Radio," bringing the Amateur
Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in on the ground floor, led by Ohio EMA
Planner Colin Campbell. Several hundred agency representatives are
divided into service areas, including communication and emergency
medical care. Those two sub-groups include amateur radio, with ARES
Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, to provide
input on the capabilities and services available through ham radio

Planning is underway and will continue right up until the actual event
takes place. The eclipse will place nine Ohio counties exactly on the
"line of totality," with complete darkness. Thirty-five more counties
will watch it as a full eclipse. Many more of Ohio's 88 counties will
see a partial eclipse.

There are over 1,000 ARES members in Ohio, and this event will probably
involve many of them in this "all hands" effort to provide
communication and messaging to served agencies. - Thanks, ARRL Ohio
Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL


As a national leader in the field of Disaster Emergency Communications
(DEC), FEMA coordinates the federal government's response, continuity
efforts and restoration of essential communications before, during, and
after an incident or planned event. Working closely with federal,
state, tribal, and other mission partners, FEMA helps unify the efforts
of all responders around one common communication goal: the delivery of
information to emergency management decision makers. Having a single,
shared communications vision promotes an interagency system of
interoperable communications capabilities across all levels of
government to ensure mission-critical information and situational
awareness. All of this is coordinated through the 10 FEMA Regional
Emergency Communications Coordinators (RECC) across the U.S.

Establishing and maintaining effective disaster emergency
communications and information systems is critical to FEMA's role in
coordinating the federal government's response, continuity efforts, and
restoration of essential services. FEMA's DEC Division, part of the
Response Directorate, ensures effective communications by:

- Providing and supporting tactical operable and interoperable voice,
video, and information systems for emergency response teams.
- Developing effective command and control communications frameworks.
- Supporting the coordination and delivery of secure communications
- Identifying and documenting mission-critical disaster emergency
communications and information systems capabilities, requirements,
solutions, and mitigation strategies.
- Promoting communications interoperability with federal, state,
tribal, and local emergency response providers



- Download the ARES Manual [PDF]

- ARES Field Resources Manual [PDF]

- ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Fillable PDF]

- ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Word]

- ARES Plan <>

- ARES Group Registration

- Emergency Communications Training

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed
amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and
equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in
the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur,
regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national
organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may
be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. Please inquire at
the local level for specific information. Because ARES is an amateur
radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for
membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable,
but is not a requirement for membership.

How to Get Involved in ARES: Fill out the ARES Registration form
<> and submit
it to your local Emergency Coordinator.


Join or Renew Today! <> Eligible US-based
members can elect to receive QST <> or On the
Air <> magazine in print when
they join ARRL or when they renew their membership. All members can
access digital editions of all four ARRL magazines: QST, On the Air,
QEX, and NCJ.

Subscribe to NCJ -- the National Contest Journal
<>. Published bimonthly, features articles by
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