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Author Topic: A new role for Amateur EmComms  (Read 38189 times)
LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2013, 05:37:45 PM »

I know from personal experience that leaders appreciate images to go with reports from incidents.

An image is perhaps not worth a thousand words, but a good image from a well identified location might tell the person in the EOC much in a glance that would have required reading a  detailed report from a trained observer.

At the forest fire in Boulder in 2010, the local ARES group provided live video images of the fire, and the news reported that as having been useful there too.

Both still and live images is something that emcomm groups should consider providing, along with digital file transfer and voice communications. In the end it's up to the served agency if they want to avail themselves of that, and if the local amateurs have an interest in providing it.
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N9AOP
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Posts: 135




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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2013, 07:59:32 PM »

I have to agree that a pic has much value.  Mostly because the younger hams are used to pics for whatever they are doing and have great difficulty describing accurately with as few words as possible what they are looking at.
Art
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LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2013, 01:39:07 AM »

I don't think it's an age issue. If you're not a trained weather observer or expert on forest fires, you may not know what words to use to describe what you're watching. If you don't have CERT training you might not know how to describe damage to structures accurately - maybe the person on the other end thinks you're overreacting when the devestation is actually worse than your words make them sound. If you're watching some cylindrical objects in a fire, unless you have the work experience you might not know if you're looking at gas tanks or some other type of pressure vessel that might explode.

Skywarn trains its observers annually, but in case of an event where the observer lacks subject matter knowledge, images can help a great deal - as well as the use of two way communication so that the person in the EOC can ask detailed questions of the observer or direct the observer to photograph or video a specific area.
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KQ6Q
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Posts: 967




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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2013, 08:44:56 PM »

It could be just that I'm in a major metro area, but there are always police or sheriff's helicopters up, and they very likely can already relay video of what they're seeing to the EOC. Providing reliable verbal tactical communications, and being an intelligent listener to hear what traffic is coming from other locations, and letting the Incident commander know what's going on that would affect his current situation, or ability to help, is where hams can excel.

see http://www.hdscs.org for further info
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KI4WDY
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2013, 06:03:20 AM »

Combing amateur R/C's with amateur television - "Only Little Drones & Facinating Amateur Radio Television Service" You can figure this one.
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W1MSG
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Posts: 86


WWW

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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2013, 07:08:57 PM »

Combing amateur R/C's with amateur television - "Only Little Drones & Facinating Amateur Radio Television Service" You can figure this one.

There is also another whole set of rules for using RC aircraft, Check out the AMA and the FAA ... The Liabilities outweigh the use.
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K1CJS
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Posts: 5889




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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2013, 04:47:27 AM »

...Skywarn trains its observers annually...

Actually, unless they've changed their methods, training refreshers are required every three years.  Skywarn does hold annual seminars, however--many times during the spring and summer season.
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KF7VXA
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Posts: 455




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« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2013, 04:48:24 PM »

Pictures might be of value if they were taken by just a few people who had some direction on what was wanted. Some of the new Yaesu HT's have a camera built right into the microphone and can send pictures to a like model radio.

I just can't see a whole bunch of EMCOMM workers going around taking pictures or live feed of 100 different things as being of much use except to make us look stupid.
If you want to take pictures, use your camera or cell phone and show them to the wife and kids when you get home from the call out.

73's John KF7VXA
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KD8GTP
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Posts: 57




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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2013, 01:55:17 PM »

I hear some of you wackers actually have dash cams in your 'emergency response vehicles'. I would think that would offer up some good video.
GOD Bless
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KB8VUL
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Posts: 105




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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2013, 02:37:01 PM »

While I see the idea behind it, I would like to remind you of Katrina and what was being relayed out of there.  The messages and descriptions of the bodies floating in the streets.  The flooding and utter chaos.  And all the while, the very things that were being described were being shown on the cable news networks.

Reailty is that this is the reason that EOC's and dispatch centers all have television sets in them.
The greatest tool for an emergency situation is information about the situation.  Live video from the local news media is going to give you a blow by blow of the situation as it is unfolding.  We watched Katrina roll in on live TV.  We saw the levies fail in real time.  We saw it all on Fox and CNN and knew about it as it occurred.  Ham radio in all it's greatness can not offer that level of situational awareness.  We simply are not equip to do it.  While we do have the numbers, we don't have things like live video stream or helicopters that can fly directly to the action and report directly on it as it happens. 

Truth is that unless we show up with a satellite receiver and feed the TV sets when the cable goes out, we can't provide real time overhead video.  Not sure how we would even go about sending real time HD video on the ham bands and is it reasonably possible?  Otherwise, we are snapping pictures, transferring them to a computer, sending them over the air by some method or another.  The receiver needs to do everything in reverse and then print it out or show someone the computer screen.  Sorry, but that's now exactly real time information.
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W6EM
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Posts: 738




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« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2013, 09:37:02 AM »

While I see the idea behind it, I would like to remind you of Katrina and what was being relayed out of there.  The messages and descriptions of the bodies floating in the streets.  The flooding and utter chaos.  And all the while, the very things that were being described were being shown on the cable news networks.

Yes, we were seeing congregations at the Superdome and those gathered on bridges awaiting transportation.  And, occasionally an aerial shot.  All while the police and fire departments had NO means of communication, thanks to a failed trunking controller.
Quote
Reailty is that this is the reason that EOC's and dispatch centers all have television sets in them.
  Yep, 10-4, in a single event situation, like a wild driver in Los Angeles, it would undoubtedly be helpful to have another aerial perspective.

Quote
......  We saw the levies fail in real time.  We saw it all on Fox and CNN and knew about it as it occurred.  Ham radio in all it's greatness can not offer that level of situational awareness.  We simply are not equip to do it.  While we do have the numbers, we don't have things like live video stream or helicopters that can fly directly to the action and report directly on it as it happens. 
And, we watched Bush look out the window of AF-1 and wave as he did a "fly-by."

 Tis good that we don't have heliocopters.  Too many in the air as it is and they can get in the way of the responders.  One lesson that's been all but forgotten from Katrina.  A National Guard helo that had to drop a message in a bottle to a coordinator on the ground.  Reason?  No radio.  Or, one that would work with the NG's equipment.
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KB8VUL
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Posts: 105




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« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2013, 09:10:22 PM »

Can't dispute a single claim made. 
But 9-11 was 12 years ago.
Katrina was 8 years ago.

Emergency services and FEMA learned alot from their failures with those events.

How many ham repeaters survived Katrina?
How congested were the active ones on 9-11
How congested was the radio spectrum?

Everyone sits and talks about this or that situation and acts like no one learned a damn thing.
And the truth is that for ham involvement to be viable for actual public safety communications they couldn't have.
Problem for the hams is they did. 
FEMA setup a national bank of frequencies that all public safety radios should have in them.
They range from VHF to 800 Mhz and they go in all new radios.
Police and fire personal are trained to go ton them if the radio systems fail.
The good old days of total reliance on an infrastructure radio system is history.
Katrina tough everyone that.   9-11 tough that having different systems on different bands was a bad idea as well, no ability to communicate with each other.

Now comes the fun part.  How many hams are there as opposed to public safety personal?
Even if you got 75% of able bodied hams to go run around with the public safety types and provide them with communications there's simply not enough of us to do it.  And when you get to the brass tacks of it, you will never see near that number show up.  You will get what ever number of ARES members involved and not much more. 

Lack of training will result in an information overload at the EOC.  By that I mean if you don't know what you are looking at and if its' important to photo document and forward on then you simply take pics of all sorts of crap and send it all.  If they take a photo journalist approach then you will get 30 shots of the same bodies floating or 10 angles of the same building falling in (that was condemned and to be torn down anyhow).  The bigger issue is and always has been this.  If you send people out to survey damage, they will find people injured and / or trapped.  Financial liability aside, and yes, even CERT members have to sign off to the idea that they can be sued, a ham operator may not know even basic first aid.  Whats worse they may find people trapped in a structure that was damages from the event and need to make a choice.  The choice being do they attempt to assist them or not.  Not doing anything is mentally draining and facing that is tough.  Doing something and not having proper training and they get to join the list of victims that the event has injured.  It's really a no win situation. 

If you are invested in helping in time of crisis, skip the ham radio efforts and go find a CERT group to join.  Join a fire department, or Citizens Police Academy program.  Get trained to assist.  Running around with a radio and asking how you can help is basically a loosing effort.  Have the radio to communicate where and what is going on and then be able to actually get in the action.  If you are actually knowledgeable with radio, and it's inner workings, know that getting the public safety radio systems back on the air is going to be a top priority.  Assist with that effort, you will be doing alot more for the community by providing that sort of assistance than passing health and welfare traffic from the local Red Cross disaster center.
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W9FIB
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Posts: 590




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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2013, 04:28:00 AM »

VUL Your contention that anyone needs to worry civil liabilities about helping a victim in an emergency situation is not correct. At least in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Good Samaritan Law
895.48 Civil liability exemption; emergency medical care.
Any person who renders emergency care at the scene of any emergency or accident in good faith shall be immune from civil liability for his or her acts or omissions in rendering such emergency care.

I don't need to talk to my lawyer while I stand around and watch the victim die.

I cant speak to specifics, but I remember in my training updates for the fire department I volunteered with, most states have a similar law.

But you are correct in that showing up to an emergency with a ham radio without training with the people who handle the situation and asking what to do is a waste of your time and theirs. That is why our ARES/RACES group trains with and is credentialed by our county. So we only show up when asked to do so, and do the tasks that are asked of us. Does this always require ham radio? No. But our group still maintains its own organizational net if nothing more to keep track of where we are. Plus if the situation changes and we need to shift our activities, it can easily be communicated from net control to those who are actively participating, or calling up others who may be able to participate. But then this falls back on our training and knowing what to do.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2013, 09:01:24 AM »

Any person who renders emergency care at the scene of any emergency or accident in good faith shall be immune from civil liability for his or her acts or omissions in rendering such emergency care.

Each municipality/county/state is different.  I'm not sure in the event of a "disaster" the good samaritan law would apply, and I don't want to be the guy to test it out.  Someone could attest that an action you performed, or didn't perform, caused damages something other than a life or limb.

Where I live there are 2 issues - liability on the part of the volunteer, and indemnity on the part of the city where I live.  What if I were hurt in the course of volunteering during a disaster?  What if I did something "wrong" in the performance of my duties?  Is the city liable?  In their view yes, and they have *specifically* rejected the use of volunteer hams in any of their emergency plans.  That's when I threw in the towel on emcomm.  Not only have hams become more and more irrelevant as time goes on, but it's evident that we are considered more of a liability than an asset.  Show me an instance where hams are welcome as part of an emergency plan and I'll show you 2 or 3 gung-ho emcomm types selling them a bill of goods, and an agency that's using them as useful idiots answering phones, handing out toilet paper at shelters or filling sandbags.

KB8VUL is right about helping out.  If you *really* want to help during emergencies leave the HT and orange vest at home and sign up with the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or any number of aid agencies out there.  They have all the training, certifications and roles already figured out.  They don't have to invent something for you to do to justify your presence.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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W9FIB
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« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2013, 07:15:13 PM »

I have filled my share of sand bags.

The only limitation in Wisconsin is if you are a doctor, or some other type of medical technician in a hospital setting. The reason for this law was that even volunteer firemen were not protected and open to civil action until this law was passed. As for testing it, it has been tested many times in Wisconsin, and the plaintiffs lost.

It also does not have any limitation as to when it is applied. There is no disaster not covered clause.

I feel that if you can't organize yourself and get the training and not have the self control to do what is asked of you, then yes, ham or not, your probably not worth the time to deal with. But that does not give anyone the right to condemn those who do. If you don't like what we do, that's fine. I personally don't care for a lot of the garbage heard on hf. I just simply turn the knob and move on. You don't see me making multiple posts condemning all the people using hf simply because of the bad people. But I will stand up for those people in the right. Those that follow good practice or in some cases at least the rules.

Like it or not, there are actually good encomm people and agencies that benefit from having them available. And yes, if that included pouring coffee for someone who lost their home, so be it. At the end of the day, I can at least say I was asked to do something to help others and I responded and did just that. I didn't just stand around and watch those that did help. I didn't make excuses that "I am a ham, I communicate only". I wouldn't let a radio get between me and that person in need. I am not too important that I can't help by making coffee.

Maybe my 25 years of being a volunteer fireman gave me the qualities that also drive me to help in what ever capacity is needed to help others. I have seen my share of peoples' suffering on the front lines. But by the same token, it sure was nice when some volunteer handed me a bottle of water when we have been battling a house fire for several hours. Or the group that set up a chow line for us when we spent almost 24 hours at a large farm that lost its buildings and most of its livestock. I can't fight fires any more. But I found a great group of people that are just as determined as I am to somehow give back to our community. And do it in a way that supports those around us. And they just happen to be hams just like me.

If that makes me a whacker or what ever other derogatory term you want to use, that's fine. But as much as you are opposed to doing something, or what I do; that's how strongly I feel the need to stand up and give compliment to those who actually do do something to help. And all the excuses in the world you can come up with just don't stack up to the feeling I got handing a teddy bear to a child standing in front of their burning house. Something I will never forget. And all the condemnation and name calling just won't change that. So when you hold your hand out and point your finger at someone, how many fingers are still pointing at you?
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