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IN HAMNET's Amateur Radio Report........a week of much activity read more...........

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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.





Yet again, the carnage on the roads over the Easter Weekend has increased. 287 people lost their lives in the 4 to 5 day period in South Africa. That's nearly 100 more than last year! If an average long-haul Airbus or Boeing carrying 287 people had crashed killing all on board, the outrage would have been extreme, but we kill each other with ease on our roads, and not much is done about it! A sad indictment on South African drivers indeed.

Another huge disaster in South Africa going unnoticed is the devastation caused by the fire at the Oil Refinery in Mobeni two weeks ago. Temperatures appear to have climbed to 13000 degrees in a blaze that turned bricks to ash and melted steel. 490 000 litres of oil mixed with water and was eventually recovered from drains, and much more drained through the area's canal system into the sandbanks and the mangroves. The danger now is exposure to asbestos ash released during the fire from building materials, so forensic teams are wearing protective clothing. The powder left behind has to be damped down to prevent release into the air of the asbestos. Damage is estimated at R100 million!

As part of the UN Disaster Conference held in Sendai, Japan, mentioned a few weeks ago, there were displays of innovations dreamed up to aid in times of disaster. These included reinforced hand-holes in the edges of blankets, so that they can be used as temporary stretchers, handles that screw into wheelchairs so that others can pull the chair while some push, more easily to free disabled people from trapped situations, and an on-the-back carrier like a toddler backpack so that a fully-grown person can carry another on his back. It seems $1 spent on prevention can yield up to $36 in savings from losses. These are clever ideas and deserve to be encouraged.

Another bit of good news comes from that British Journal, the Lancet, where reports are carried of a trial of a new high-dose Ebola Virus Vaccine tested in China. Previous vaccines contained proteins from a 1976 virus strain. The new vaccine has a protein in it from the 2014 epidemic. Apart from the usual mild pain at the injection site, there were no adverse effects, but those who received the vaccine demonstrated very good antibody and white blood cell response by 14 days after the vaccine. If this vaccine can be hurried through the rest of the trials, it will strongly help to protect the peoples exposed in the current epidemic.

A report from Andrew Gray ZS2G received on Tuesday tells of a call-out to the Groendal Nature Reserve, where 7 hikers were trapped by rising flood waters after very heavy rain over Easter. Colin ZS2CRS, Andrew ZS2G, Glen ZS2GV and Rob ZS2ROB responded, as well as the NSRI, MCSA, Ambulance and Police Force. Luckily, an SAAF helicopter also responded and managed to bring the hikers all to safety, in spite of rain and poor visibility. Without the chopper, the ground-based rescue would have taken several hours of darkness. Certainly, a wonderful response to a dangerous situation. This rescue was also reported in the monthly NSRI newsletter issued on the 8th. Thanks for that Andrew!

Those of you who enjoy weather pictures should look at the magnificent satellite photo of Tropical Cyclone Joalane situated at present about 500km
East of Port Louis, Mauritius. Wind speeds are currently at 140kph, maximum significant wave heights 9 metres, and cloud-top temperatures -81 degrees C. But the photo has to be seen to be believed. Cloud detail and peripheral weather is phenomenal. Scroll through the Hamnet Facebook page and enlarge Francois' entry there.

Finally, yet another reminder to you all, being SARL members by definition, to sign a proxy form to gain a quorum, and for motions to be proposed at the AGM next weekend. The form is on the member's section of the website, and should be faxed to the Secretary of the SARL before Wednesday lunchtime the 15th. Thank you very much.

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.















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This page last modified: 3/12/2013