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Author Topic: Amateur Radio and the Fort McMurray, Alberta Wildfires  (Read 7629 times)
K7EXJ
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Posts: 810




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« on: May 11, 2016, 05:12:32 AM »

Wondering whether ham radio has played any sort of part in the evacuation of some 90,000 people out of Fort McMurray, Alberta over the past few weeks.

Locating shelter?
Monitoring vehicle convoys?

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73s de K7EXJ
Craig Smiley
VK5CQ
Member

Posts: 142




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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2016, 03:59:15 PM »

Question. 'dunno.

PS For a number of perspectives about this major disaster, how communities can come together after its occurrence, etc.:

Use app "CBC Radio" (an Excellent Internet radio app, IMO).
At the moment, there are several CBC show segments, eg,
available from the app's front page, on Ft McMurray stories
& huge wildfires.

Later, most/all of these segments will remain available, in
the app, eg, as podcasts.

If you train folks to prepare them for such disasters, these
Segments might be useful, for their powerful realism.

If you're in CA, you know that donations to Red Cross are
being matched by Canadian Gov't. If you can donate, do.

PS Greens' head Elozabeth May has drawn criticism (on CBC)
for reminding folks that this is yet another sign of Climate
Change. CBC's "The 180" takes up the Q. of:

+ How soon after such a Disaster isn't "too soon"
    to link it with Climate Chage...?
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VE7PGB
Member

Posts: 1




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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2016, 09:46:56 AM »

Here is a link to the RAC web pages about the ham involvement with the wild fire.

http://wp.rac.ca/fort-mcmurray-update/
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VE6FGN
Member

Posts: 35




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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2016, 04:41:39 PM »

I was on standby throughout the event, and talking several times a day with the Amateur in the Ft Mac EOC. If we were needed, we would have been the first team in.

We were never needed.

Land line and cell phones remained serviceable throughout the worst of the fire. There were plenty of satellite phones available. There were a few times that cell towers went down, lines were threatened, but normal communications were robust and remained serviceable at all times.

The guy in charge was aware we were available, I think it gave him the warm fuzzies that he had options.

There was a lot of internal pressure to self-deploy from a variety of amateurs in the Province.

I think it's important to note that there are times when it's more important to stay out of the way than it is to get involved- this was one of them.

Had it all gone for poo, we were ready. It didn't- and I for one am very happy it didn't.

Cheers- Garry
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KC2QYM
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Posts: 596




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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2016, 07:28:59 AM »

I must be critical and do not mean to put anyone down...but, there is pervasive self serving propaganda that ham radio and hams are important and essential for emergency communications. Again, governments already have sophisticated radio communications capabilities to ensure their ability to  coordinate resources during disasters. Most governmental disaster operatives do not want fellows in orange vests and radios getting in the way of real emergency personnel operations. In the event of a mega catastrophe, do hams really think they can make any difference at all?...except perhaps to act in some limited support capacity which is OK but you don't have to be a ham and in many cases the OEM doesn't want your radio skills.  For example, when everyone is in their bunkers trying to survive an EMP attack (or worse) who are you going to call to help you? Again, the motto that "when all else fails there's ham radio" is an unrealistic, false promise. The only thing hams will be be doing when all else fails will be trying to survive like everyone else; there will be no help from anyone. Ham's and the ARRL (and other radio organizations) should end this stupid campaign to convince us that ham radio can save the day. Perhaps it works in movies like 'Independence Day' where military radio operators use good old CW to coordinate an attack against aliens because the aliens don't know code. Guess what? most hams don't know code anymore either. How come people are so naive?
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W4KYR
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Posts: 1092




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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2016, 09:02:07 AM »

In the event of a mega catastrophe, do hams really think they can make any difference at all?...

I believe they can. Even if they don't get to help government agencies, they can help their neighbors and other people in their town by assisting them in providing communications and news with the latest information.

Just because the agencies are able to use their emergency communications without your help. It could be safe to say that your neighbors will not have emergency communications at their disposal. But you do....And you could help them...



For example, when everyone is in their bunkers trying to survive an EMP attack (or worse) who are you going to call to help you?


If it ever got to that point....I think communications would be the least of our immediate problems...


Again, the motto that "when all else fails there's ham radio" is an unrealistic, false promise. The only thing hams will be be doing when all else fails will be trying to survive like everyone else; there will be no help from anyone.


Why is it an unrealistic false promise? The ability of being able to provide communications where there are no conventional means of communications is an asset, not a hindrance. If a ham has alternate means of generating power; solar, generator or other method they will be in a position to help out...



Ham's and the ARRL (and other radio organizations) should end this stupid campaign to convince us that ham radio can save the day.


Why is it a "stupid campaign"? And what does "save the day" really mean? To a ham "save the day" could mean being in a position to send and receive information in and out of an storm damaged area. If your neighbor needed you to contact their loved ones across town, across the state or across the country and let them know that your neighbor was OK. In a way that could be considered as "saving the day".

Maybe your neighbor is a single mom who ran out of baby formula, if you were able to contact someone out of the storm damaged area to deliver more baby formula. You would have saved the day for your neighbor.



Perhaps it works in movies like 'Independence Day' where military radio operators use good old CW to coordinate an attack against aliens because the aliens don't know code. Guess what? most hams don't know code anymore either. How come people are so naive?

Morse Code is a great mode, but it isn't the only mode at a ham's disposal.  PSK31 is also good mode that hams can use. Packet radio can be very useful after a tornado, hurricane or earthquake came through and leveled conventional communications and power. Live video via HSMM-MESH can be very useful in assessing storm damage.

It isn't just about helping agencies all the time. It is also about helping your neighbor, the people on your city block, helping the people in your town, helping the people in your county too.





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Still using Windows 98  ------------------ for Packet Radio.
K6CPO
Member

Posts: 299




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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2016, 05:34:26 PM »

We have a major wildfire burning in the eastern portion of San Diego County and it's maybe 20% contained.  As far as I know, the only hams that are actively involved in the fire are a couple that helped out at one of the shelters.  I don't even think they were providing communications.  When the shelter was moved, they remained behind because they live in the fire area and their homes were threatened.

The rest of us are sitting at home, monitoring the fire on the CalFire radio frequencies and the occasional comment on the local repeaters.  I've actually learned more about what the fire is doing from internet resources and the TV news.
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ONAIR
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Posts: 2564




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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2016, 06:52:29 PM »

We have a major wildfire burning in the eastern portion of San Diego County and it's maybe 20% contained.  As far as I know, the only hams that are actively involved in the fire are a couple that helped out at one of the shelters.  I don't even think they were providing communications.  When the shelter was moved, they remained behind because they live in the fire area and their homes were threatened.

The rest of us are sitting at home, monitoring the fire on the CalFire radio frequencies and the occasional comment on the local repeaters.  I've actually learned more about what the fire is doing from internet resources and the TV news.
  Interesting!  I heard that there was activity related to the fire on the 11 meter band in SD.  Are you in close proximity to the fire?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 06:54:52 PM by ONAIR » Logged
K5LXP
Member

Posts: 4963


WWW

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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2016, 07:47:34 PM »

the only hams that are actively involved in the fire are a couple that helped out at one of the shelters. 
 I don't even think they were providing communications.

They activated ARES here in the Albuquerque area earlier this week for the Doghead fire.  So I left a vox activated recorder going on their repeater during the day and listened later for mission critical communications.  I wasn't disappointed.  Shelter counts was among them, reporting more volunteers present than evacuees.  Next was livestock counts.  Interestingly, more goats than cows.  One snake.  A request for more gatorade came in.  A delivery of tarps, heavy duty tie wraps and extension cords was requested.  Please clarify "heavy duty tie wrap".  Plus various and sundry inquiries to talk to so and so and where they might be found.  At no time were commercial services interrupted and all the traffic I heard in a 12 hour period could've been covered with a few text messages on a smart phone instead of tying up numerous people manning 2M rigs for days.

Yeah, I know, they were "ready".  And around here you might get one activation a decade so you'd better get yours in before you die.  But if public service is your noble cause, forget the radio.  Join the Red Cross, Salvation Army, a church league, something other than ham radio.  You stand to do a lot more for your fellow man that way than being a go-fer at a shelter under the guise of "communications". 


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K6CPO
Member

Posts: 299




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« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 11:46:25 AM »

We have a major wildfire burning in the eastern portion of San Diego County and it's maybe 20% contained.  As far as I know, the only hams that are actively involved in the fire are a couple that helped out at one of the shelters.  I don't even think they were providing communications.  When the shelter was moved, they remained behind because they live in the fire area and their homes were threatened.

The rest of us are sitting at home, monitoring the fire on the CalFire radio frequencies and the occasional comment on the local repeaters.  I've actually learned more about what the fire is doing from internet resources and the TV news.
  Interesting!  I heard that there was activity related to the fire on the 11 meter band in SD.  Are you in close proximity to the fire?

No I'm not.  The fire is about 50 miles east of where I live in the middle of San Diego City.  I've been following the fire with more interest than the average San Diegan because it's burning near a railroad museum where I am a volunteer.  We have no idea if it's affected our track and we decided to close for the weekend because of the fire.

https://www.psrm.org/
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