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Author Topic: Who to contact by HF in a national disaster?  (Read 9369 times)
HS0ZIB
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Posts: 580




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« on: May 06, 2015, 12:43:39 AM »

This is rather generic question.  I live in Thailand, so my question isn't about contacting USA organisations as such.

There have been some recent but small (4.6 richter) earthquakes in my region (Phuket Island), over the past day.  Such earthquakes are not that unusual in this region.

But the recent, major earthquake in Nepal and now these local 'tremors' got me thinking...

If there was a major earthquake in my region that knocked out national line/mobile telecoms and internet, and if my HF station (the only HF ham station on the island), was still operable - who would I contact on HF?

The island is heavily-visited by foreign tourists, so I can imagine relaying 'I am safe' messages back to their families would be of importance.

To be honest, I can't think where to start with this.  I would have a long-distance HF capability (voice and data), but what would I do with it?

Is there a generic guide of what types of organisations I should establish contact with, and what typical rescue/recovery tasks might benefit from HF comms capabilities?

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K5LXP
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2015, 06:20:08 AM »


First place I think of to go to is the Maritime Mobile Service Net.  From there you would likely move off to a different frequency after station(s) that can help you pass your traffic have been identified.

But, practically speaking, you're not going to do a lot.  You are one person, with one conduit of very low data rate transmission.  Even if you had an open band to anyone, anywhere you wanted, there's only so much you could convey.   It's not like you'd be the focal point of some detailed rescue or supply coordination between governments.  If things really are that effed up, the outside world already knows of your plight and you won't be telling anyone anything they don't already know (example, Nepal earthquake).  Even for health and welfare traffic, how would the masses in your location get messages to you to relay out?  It's not like they're going to call you on the phone or mail you a note.  Even presuming there was a group of hams and functional V/U repeaters to extend your area of local coverage, you're not going to be able to move a lot of traffic.  Chances are, within some number of hours of the event happening there will be some degree of cell service or internet restored and the masses can pass their own traffic.  The earthquake in Haiti is a good example of this. 

Such is the folly of ham radio in disasters.  One or a few guys running radios off of batteries or solar panels and a wire in a tree isn't going to un-topple a high rise or bring back the homes washed out in a tsunami.  Ham radio is incrementally useful for served agencies providing local communications during recovery efforts.  That requires a group of nominally trained hams and interoperable/deployable equipment, not one guy at his house.  In a remote location communication can be a challenge enough on a normal day, then throw a disaster on top of it and there's only so much any one person can do. 


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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KF7CG
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Posts: 1188




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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2015, 10:44:06 AM »

Mark,

You missed a lot on the Nepal earthquake news. Sure the whole world knew that Nepal was messed up, but the outlying communities had to wait days before anyone even knew the still existed. Radio is tightly controlled in Nepal and there were no Amateurs in the effected are and very few in the entire country.

In remote areas or areas where transport can become a problem, Amateur Radio can become a more important means of communications. If you are in a fairly remote area and the roads, landline, and cell service are all out, then it could be that Amateur Radio is all that there is. Low probability, but to high to ignore. By the way, a landslide that closes the major highways can also take out land line and cell communication at the same time. There are even a few places in the Intermountain West of the USA that could be cutoff without communications if a major quake were to occur in certain areas.

Most instances Amateur Radio will not do a lot but then when sometimes when it is needed it is really needed.

David
KF7CG
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 16883




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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2015, 11:26:34 AM »

The most important service you can provide is to report conditions and help with the coordination of
relief:  condition of the runway, for example, important needs (food, water, shelter), whether roads
and docks are open to move supplies, etc.  Health and Welfare traffic ("I am fine" messages) can wait.

Who you communicate that to will depend on the circumstances.  Lacking any specific national structure
for such things, perhaps the best you can do is contact a station elsewhere and have them relay the
information to the nearest Thai embassy if you can't find anyone in the country.  At some point there
likely will be an emergency net set up, and you can then work with that net:  they should have
contacts with the Red Cross and/or other organizations that are coordinating the relief effort.
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K5TED
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2015, 07:41:43 PM »

With Mark taking the coveted 'Turd In The Punchbowl' award, I'd say anyone able to get a status report out to the world when disaster strikes anywhere but sunny New Mexico, the Maritime Mobile Net or Pacific Net would be first choice for reporting in. Those nets are all day and usually have connections with big stations who can at least take early status reports and pass them to some authority. Who knows the value of an early report? Probably depends on who benefits from it. Surely can't be be predetermined by someone in an airconditioned shack 7000 miles away... Might as well try to help rather than bow out under fear of irrelevance.
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KF7VXA
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Posts: 568




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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2015, 07:52:02 PM »

If there other Hams on the island, you could set up a pre determined emergency frequency using H.F. NVIS antennas and possibly get reports from different parts of the island and also VHF/UHF communications. Between ground wave and sky wave, you should be able to cover most of the island with H.F and VHF/UHF.
You would need to set this up in advance.
If allowed by your radio laws, maybe set up an Ares type net that meets weekly.
This would enable you to give better reports to the outside world as well as get help where it is needed the most.
Not knowing the size of the island, population centers and number of other hams, this would be something you could look into.
I hope those type of emergency communications are never needed.

John
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HS0ZIB
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Posts: 580




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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2015, 04:40:52 AM »

Quote
If there other Hams on the island, you could set up a pre determined emergency frequency using H.F

There are no other HF hams on the island.  Although there is 2 metre band activity (70cm is not authorised in Thailand), 2m is akin to CB and the local hams do not tolerate a foreigner trying to chat with them (even in fluent Thai).

(Sad but true, they assume that only Thai people are allowed to operate amateur radio in Thailand and will jam a foreigner or switch of the local repeater.... Been there, experienced that).

This is frustrating, because I would like to set up a NVIs link between the main tourist town and the airport (about 30 miles path but with hills ==> 2m link not really viable).

The island is about 40 miles top to bottom.  There are more than 1 million tourists who visit the island each month.  So at any time, there are tens of 10,000s of foreign tourists who would be unfamiliar with the topography or procedures in a natural disaster (earthquake, tsunami etc).

The more I think about how I can positively help, the more I recognise that I should concentrate on assisting the foreign tourists, (but not to the exclusion of the locals of course).  And despite the advice about working as a team, the hard fact is that there is no 'ham' team and unlikely to be one in a disaster. 

There are activities that I could undertake as an individual which would provide help:

- Assuming local radio stations are off-air, set up a low-power, FM broadcast transmitter from my Jeep to broadcast emergency/rescue information to survivors (who could easily receive the signal on the FM radio on their mobile phones - no cellular network required).
- Provide HF email text connection from my mobile QTH for survivors to send 'I am OK' emails to family back home
- Provide a bank of chargers to allow people to charge their mobiles and laptops, assuming there is internet or cellular service.
etc etc

I will think carefully about all practical options.



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AA4PB
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Posts: 14298




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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 05:09:44 AM »

You might look into Winlink 2000. It would permit you to connect to a distant HF station to relay traffic to/from the Internet. You could also use your home station in automatic mode to relay traffic to/from your VHF mobile station.
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KC2MMI
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2015, 09:27:02 PM »

Try Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) Secretary Champ Muangamphun, E21EIC.
http://www.rast.or.th/

The ARRL reports them as having been operating on 7.11MHz in support of flooding in Thailand and Malaysia in 2014.

There are pretty much always disaster network/assistance organizations set up by "national" radio organizations. It helps if you join them, learn their procedures and standard operations, in advance of the disaster. Usually there will be some regular network times scheduled, to give everyone a chance to find out how equipment changes, etc. will affect their ability to contact the others.
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HS0ZIB
Member

Posts: 580




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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2015, 11:54:13 PM »

Quote
Try Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) Secretary Champ Muangamphun, E21EIC.
http://www.rast.or.th/

I am already a lifelong member of RAST for many years, so I'll check with them re this.  But as I mentioned, my best role is to help the foreign tourists on the island, which will typically need communication with other territories outside Thailand.

Thanks again - I'll make some more enquiries before updating this thread.
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WD8DBY
Member

Posts: 91




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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2015, 01:08:38 PM »

This is rather generic question.  I live in Thailand, so my question isn't about contacting USA organisations as such.

There have been some recent but small (4.6 richter) earthquakes in my region (Phuket Island), over the past day.  Such earthquakes are not that unusual in this region.

But the recent, major earthquake in Nepal and now these local 'tremors' got me thinking...

If there was a major earthquake in my region that knocked out national line/mobile telecoms and internet, and if my HF station (the only HF ham station on the island), was still operable - who would I contact on HF?

The island is heavily-visited by foreign tourists, so I can imagine relaying 'I am safe' messages back to their families would be of importance.

To be honest, I can't think where to start with this.  I would have a long-distance HF capability (voice and data), but what would I do with it?

Is there a generic guide of what types of organisations I should establish contact with, and what typical rescue/recovery tasks might benefit from HF comms capabilities?



I recommend you look into the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC).  Under the GAREC, they have what are called Emergency Center of Activity frequencies designated for each IARU Region.  These ECOA frequencies are where emergency communications should be established as a starting point.  This is the concept that members of the US Military Auxiliary Radio System trained the past two years with the Country of Nepal and what we did to support last month's Nepal earthquake.  I briefed this concept to the IARU GAREC last year at the Huntsville Hamfest.  This concept received good reviews from Greg Mossup, IARU Region 1 Emergency Coordinator.  For this year's exercise, we will be working with amateur radio operators in the Philippines to demonstrate the ECOA concept.  Respectfully, Paul     
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K5LXP
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2015, 07:36:18 AM »

I recommend you look into the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC).

Yes, maybe he could even revive it.

04/16/2015

The sponsors of the 2015 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference (GAREC 2015) have announced that the event has been cancelled due to a lack of interest.

http://www.arrl.org/news/global-amateur-radio-emergency-conference-is-cancelled


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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WD8DBY
Member

Posts: 91




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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2015, 01:55:15 PM »

I recommend you look into the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (GAREC).

Yes, maybe he could even revive it.

04/16/2015

The sponsors of the 2015 Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference (GAREC 2015) have announced that the event has been cancelled due to a lack of interest.

http://www.arrl.org/news/global-amateur-radio-emergency-conference-is-cancelled


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Even though the annual GAREC is cancelled, the concept for how to use the ECOA is still valid.  v/r

Paul
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