HAMNET'S Summer National 24 hour communications exercise took place late in October 2015. This was the fourth edition of the HAMNET Communications Exercise, which was previously held as a "Winter Exercise" The exercise was held from 12:00 on the 24 October until 12:00 SAST on 25 October 2015.
As in the past teams consisted of at least 4 members, of which the leader and at least half the team were HAMNET members. Teams deployed themselves at a variety of locations and also activated one Disaster Centre. Teams were encouraged to find locations that were of some interest and remote to their normal points of operation.
The theme of the exercise was “black out", where all stations were required to
operate all activities off the grid. This included radio equipment, lighting, cooking and any other related activities. The exercise was held to afford teams an opportunity to learn about their capabilities and very importantly their short comings.
“In the past we used a point allocation system which this time was abandoned in favour of a total outcome evaluation”, organiser Grant Southey said. “The overall success was judged on how teams co-operated with each other. Another new concept this year was the "priority" message. At various times a random team had to get a message through to another specific team. The messages and times were not disclosed before the start of the competition and the teams had to use all resources at their disposal (except telephones or cell phones) to get the messages through to the destination.“
The organisers hoped to create a fun environment within which teams could operate to experiment with their equipment and test their capabilities and practice their emergency communications protocols. After the exercise a report had to be submitted with the experiences of the teams, containing information including their location, team members, and equipment used as well as a record of what they felt worked for them and what they felt they needed to improve on. “We hope to send out a questionnaire afterwards to help assess the organisation, and help to improve future exercises.” Grant said
He and his team of organisers plan to issue a final report at the beginning of December. A summary of the report will be available on this site.
WHEN ALL FAILS AMATEUR RADIO SUCCEEDS
Something has gone terribly wrong. Normal ways of doing things are not working. The fastest way to turn an emergency into a full disaster is to lose communications.
Radio Amateurs understand emergencies. For over 70 years they have provided emergency communications for organisations. When normal ways of communication fail or get overloaded Radio Amateurs will be there.
HAMNET, the National Emergency Communications division of the South African Radio League (SARL), provides communications for emergencies and can mobilise experienced communicators who with their own radio equipment will back up official channels or take over when all else fails.
The SARL represents all Radio Amateurs in South Africa at all levels of Government and through the IARU at the International Telecommunications Union.
Radio Amateurs or "Hams" use two-way radio communication to make contact with other radio amateurs all over the world. They are even able to use satellites and on occasion speak with astronauts. Radio Hams can do this from home or while mobile in cars, boats or on foot.
Radio Hams have a full range of communication modes at their disposal. These include plain voice, Morse code, numerous digital computer modes and even graphical modes like television. A licensed radio amateur is able to join in experiments using all these modes.
HAMNET REPORT 22 NOVEMBER 2015
A worrying report has been released by "Future Tense", referring to the most intense El Niño ever observed, being the most immediate reason for this year's global heat wave. The current El Niño is stronger than those of 1982-3, 1997-8, and probably 1877-8 as well. The current event is still strengthening, so we don't know how huge it will become. Human induced climate change may interact with and modify the natural effects in unexpected ways too.
Data from NASA and NOAA confirm that October was the most unusually warm month ever measured worldwide, beating the previous record set one month earlier. Octobers world-wide have been warming by an average pace of about 0.055 degrees Celsius per decade since 1880, but this October rose by double that, at 0.11 degrees Celsius. Not much, you might say, but the net effect on global warming has sped up by 10 years. The effect on drought, food shortages, massive forest fires, and, paradoxically, unusual rains in deserts, is clear. During the terrorist activities in Paris last week, 100 heads of state had already come together to negotiate the first-ever global agreement on climate change. We await the decisions made with interest.
Natural disasters in South Africa were also evident, with a massive hailstorm in the Ekurhuleni municipality this week, a local disaster being declared, and some runaway fires in the Southern Cape Peninsula destroying houses and vegetation. Luckily for the Peninsula, a cold front crossed the area on Thursday night, and rain helped to control the 3 fires burning.
Surprisingly, a snow report was issued on Friday, announcing that the cold front crossing the Cape on Friday was expected to bring light snow to the peaks around Ceres, the Cedarberg, Worcester, and North of Stellenbosch. It was predicted that snow might fall over the Groot Swartberge, and in areas of the Outeniquas as well as Graaff-Reinet. I was told on Friday by a wise old person, that Summer cannot be said to have started in the Cape until it has snowed in November!
And a report from the usual news bureaux mentions the quick thinking of an engineer who happened to be flying back to South Africa in a commercial aircraft, who noticed smoke issuing from a small carry-on bag under a passenger's seat several rows ahead of him. Fearing a disaster, he snatched up the bag, took it to the pantry at the back of the flight, emptied the contents on to the shelf, and found two lithium ion cellphone batteries stuck together and short-circuiting. The batteries had started heating up, and had melted parts of the cable and the bag. Separating the batteries cost him some burns to his hands, but he definitely prevented a small explosion, with possibly dire consequences, from happening. The message seems clear: Whenever you travel with batteries in your luggage, no matter how big or small, pack them securely in a way such that no metal can touch their contacts, and cause heat or fire to be generated. Lithium ion batteries have a nasty habit of exploding when they overheat!
Chris Gryffenberg ZS6COG, Regional Director for Hamnet Gauteng South, has sent out a call to all his members please to indicate to him formally whether they belong to any alternate organisations, such as the SA Red Cross, Mountain Search and Rescue, ORRU, a Community Policing Forum, Servamus, RaDAR, or any other organisation with an emergency or disaster management flavour. Chris hopes to be able to liaise with fellow organisations using these members. I think this is a very good request, and recommend that, if you belong to any such organisations in any Regions, and haven't told Hamnet about them, you please do so, to improve generally our ability to interact with other systems if needed. If you do not know precisely who to contact with the information, please send an email to Trevor Brinch, ZS1TR, our database manager on the email email@example.com. The extra information will be most useful.
For any other Hamnet queries, consider sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Vonnie will give you the details of the regional director of Hamnet for your area.
Finally, please remember that the time for holiday monitoring is drawing closer, and that you owe it to your organisation and your fellow South Africans to prepare your station to be able to monitor the emergency call frequencies of 3760Khz lower sideband, or 3770Khz in case of interference, or 7110Khz lower sideband, as well as your local 2 metre repeater mostly used for emergency traffic. It would be greatly appreciated if your radio was always on when you are home. Thank you.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.