AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION NETWORK
IN HAMNET's Amateur Radio Report........a week of much activity read more...........
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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 or 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 17 MAY 2015
Well, we thought the agony for the people of Nepal was over for a while. That was not to be. Greg Mossop G0DUB had just sent out the request for feedback on the earthquake communications of the 25th April event, when news of another magnitude 7.1 shock, just slightly to the East of the previous one, was announced on 12th May. From 09:05 SAST onwards, 14 aftershocks of magnitude 5 to 6 were measured! Calculations suggested that 5.6 million people live within 100Km radius of the shocks and were vulnerable.
In his first communiqué to the IARU Region One website, Greg said, and I quote:
"There is still a large international disaster response structure in the country from the earlier earthquakes, but radio amateurs are prepared for any possible communications failures.
The planned response from the American MARS service with 9N1SP reported that it was in place from 09:00 UTC should support be required. Dr Panday 9N1SP however reported from the University that he was safe and that internet service was functioning at that location. He is maintaining a schedule of contacts with Tim T6TM in Afghanistan should the situation change. However, all are concerned about the stability of buildings which were already weakened by the earlier earthquake.
Jayant Bhide VU2JAU was monitoring the usual frequency, for Indian-Nepal communications, of 14.210MHz after the earthquake and at 08:45 UTC reported that he had made contact with some stations in India who were also affected by the quake, but no Nepal stations. He has now established contact with 9N1AA, who reports that there is local communication and power disruption, with citizens being encouraged to use SMS rather than voice calls, probably to reduce the load on the networks. He now has a schedule with 9N1AA on an hourly basis.
The 9N1 Emergency group on Facebook has established telephone contact with Satish 9N1AA who confirms he has communications. Their contact with Nepal is also now on a scheduled rather than a continuous basis.
Although there is no apparent need for amateur radio emergency communications at this time, everyone is reminded that IARU Emergency Centres of Activity, along with 14.210MHz, may be in use and please to listen carefully before transmitting. There is however no need to call and 'keep a frequency clear' as this may affect communications which are happening local to the disaster area e.g. Afghanistan and India." End Quote.
International offers of communications help have also come from Jose Mendez EA9CD, and Younis Albuloushi A41MA.
That same evening at 23:00, SAST, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck just off the coast of Japan, near the spot where the March 2011 quake and tsunami occurred, but did little damage, and was lost in the news of the Nepalese disasters. There has been no general news of the Japanese quake since then.
My request to South African radio amateurs is to be circumspect about communications on 14.200Mhz and upwards, and please make absolutely sure there is no traffic in the frequency range before you look for DX on the 20m band.
Meanwhile, the search and rescue fraternity is still active in the Western Cape. Sadly, the authorities are still looking for 2 small children, a girl of 6 and a boy of 4, who have separately been missing for nearly 2 weeks. And on Table Mountain, Hamnet is assisting in the search for a fairly experienced hiker who has been missing since Tuesday. Several teams of searchers have been going out on a daily basis, assisted by Hamnet APRS tracking capabilities, but, by Saturday afternoon, had still not found a sign of the young man. Up to 6 separate teams, including a K9 unit, and Police and Skymed helicopters helped on Friday. As always, Matt ZS1MTF and Adriaan ZS1AVN were the first to volunteer amongst the Hamnet members and we salute them for their public spiritedness.
On a lighter note, we've received a positive report from the organising Hamnet members on the assistance given to the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge on 3 May. Johann ZS1JM reports that 5 Hamnet members and 7 Hottentots Hollands Mountain Club of SA operators helped with the marshalling and communications over the 38Km extreme race, the 24Km race, and the 11Km fun run. Luckily there were no serious problems, the runners finished safely, and Johann thanks all who helped.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.