The world is stunned at the tragic loss of life in the French Alps this week, with the crash involving the Germanwings aircraft. Like me, I'm sure you must have wondered what community-aware radio amateurs like us could do to help in such a situation, either to prevent tragedy, or to assist in bringing relief at the disaster site. Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims.
A report has been received from Dave Holliday ZS5HN on the Tour Natal Rally held last month. It seems that 13 KZN members assisted in the two day event, operating on 145.550 or 145.225Mhz simplex, and comms were good from all points of the race. Dave reports all sorts of exciting stuff, with cars rolling, on their roofs, a few ending up in the cane-fields along the route, and some losing wheels! Haven't they learnt about wheel-nuts out there yet? Luckily no injuries were reported, or cars on fire. The organisers made very positive comments about Hamnet's capabilities after the event. Those taking part included ZS5's WFD, HN, X, JM, GD, DGR, MAB, ROB, CGW, LT, AGV and DD. Thanks, Dave, and well done!
In Cape Town, last weekend, two rescues on the Table Mountain range were reported by Grant ZS1GS, who, together with his wife Elizabeth ZS1XS, was on Lions Head for a stroll, when a call came through to assist a walker who had sustained a spinal injury. They and Adriaan ZS1AVN helped to receive the patient, and rescuers, when skylifted by the Skymed helicopter down off the mountain. The patient was then transferred from the ropes to inside the helicopter and transferred directly to hospital.
Shortly thereafter, another call for assistance in looking for a party on Karbonkelberg near Hout Bay came through. Again Grant and Elizabeth responded, but most of the work was done by the technical rescue team of 3, driven to as close to the lost walkers as possible. The group was safely rescued within 90 minutes, and the debrief took place against a backdrop of one of the Cape's beautiful Autumn sunsets.
While in the Cape, let me remind you all of the 2 Oceans Marathon taking place this weekend. The organisers have had to change the route to leave out Chapman's Peak Drive, because of the danger of rock-falls or landslides, after the recent fire killed off all vegetation there, depriving the hillsides of a mesh of root structures for stability. Also, in the absence of much rain down here, there is still a lot of soot on the road, and in the air, which might cause major respiratory problems amongst the runners. Plan B is for the race to return to the finish line over Ou Kaapseweg, on a route used several times in the past, and well tested.
Now, important news from my predecessor, Francois, ZS6BUU. He writes thus:
This coming Easter weekend, Hamnet will be on standby on our various emergency communication frequencies to handle radio traffic from those who have HF equipment whilst travelling on holiday.
There are also 2 cell phone numbers available either to report traffic conditions or call for assistance. The first – to report adverse road conditions and snarl-ups is JAMLINE - 084JAMLINE or numerically 084 5265463. Rob Byrne and his team will take your road reports and pass them on to various radio stations.
The alternative number when there is no response from the usual 10177 or 112 roadside assistance numbers is 060 3274637. This is a direct line to HAMNET who will take calls and pass them on to the correct authorities.
Busy days are obviously Thursday 2nd of April and the return on Monday the 6th of April. We request, where possible, that our frequency of 7,110 MHz during the day be kept clear. Alternative daylight frequencies are 10,125 MHz and 18,160 MHz but not too many of us have facilities to use these frequencies while mobile. They are useful for passing longer distance messages between monitoring stations.
Late afternoon and evening, 3,760 MHz is a good alternative but very often the 7,110 MHz band is open till late in the evening.
Hamnet can also be reached via Twitter @HAMNET_SARL
By all means, those not going away are welcome to join us on these frequencies for any casual chat. However, please leave a 5 or more second pause between transmissions to allow for traffic.
Thank you Francois, for the important reminder of Easter Weekend road congestion. To all of you who may be driving next weekend, a safe trip, and a happy holiday.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa