Showing posts with label Emergency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emergency. Show all posts

April 10, 2021

Amateur Radio Wilderness Protocol

Radio amateurs spending time in the backcountry with their radios are asked to follow The Wilderness Protocol to potentially help someone in an emergency.  Communication capabilities in an emergency situation are extremely important.  Backcountry locations are often without mobile phone service and out of reach of amateur radio repeaters.  

Light-weight low-power amateur radio transceivers (handy-talkies) are easy to carry and provide the possibility of simplex communication in an emergency situation.  However, amateur radio in the backcountry is useful for summoning help only when there is someone listening.  The Wilderness Protocol is described in the ARRL ARES Emergency Resource Manual encourages radio amateurs to listen:
The Wilderness protocol calls for hams in the wilderness to announce their presence on, and to monitor, the national calling frequencies for five minutes beginning at the top of the hour, every three hours from 7 AM to 7 PM while in the back country. A ham in a remote location may be able to relay emergency information through another wilderness ham who has better access to a repeater. National calling frequencies: 52.525, 146.52, 223.50, 446.00, 1294.50 MHz.
The above frequencies are FM simplex calling frequencies in the the US.  It is a good idea to listen on all the prescribed frequencies that your radio is capable of receiving, even if your radio doesn't necessarily transmit on those same frequencies.  You may intercept a call for help and be able to relay it to another station on a frequency your radio does transmit on.

The Wilderness Protocol schedule of listening times are all local times.
  • 7:00 AM to 7:05 AM
  • 10:00 AM to 10:05 AM
  • 1:00 PM to 1:05 PM
  • 4:00 PM to 4:05 PM
  • 7:00 PM to 7:05 PM
California backcountry

It is also a good idea to transmit your call sign once or twice so that others will be alerted to your presence.  Someone experiencing an emergency may hear your transmission and be prompted to respond by asking for your help.
The Wilderness Protocol is simply a recommendation that those outside of repeater range monitor standard simplex channels at specific times in case others have priority or emergency calls. -- FM & Repeaters”, June 1996 QST, p. 85.
As radio amateurs, we can make a difference by using our radios, knowledge, skills, and The Wilderness Protocol.  Now that you know about The Wilderness Protocol, be sure share this information with others including your family, your ham friends, your child's scout troop, your fellow amateur radio club members, and others in your circle.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 17, 2021

January 10, 2021 Radio Scavenge Around Field Exercise

On January 10, 2021, I had the opportunity to participate in the Santa Cruz County ARES Scavenge Around Field Exercise with my family and we had an excellent time.  A radio scavenge around exercise is a fun activity designed to maintain safe social distancing while improving participant's amateur radio skills and knowledge of local County geography and repeater coverage.

Santa Cruz County FEMA Map

The scavenge around exercise was a three-hour event.  It started with participants checking into a SAFE Resource Net and being assigned a SAFE tactical net from one of three other area repeaters.  Participants then changed frequency to their assigned tactical net and checked in for tasks.  

The tasks involved driving to a location which was either an intersection or a address and answering a question that was given as part of the task regarding what you observe at the location.  The task assignments often involved the participant driving to a distant and possibly unfamiliar part of the County.  This made the task interesting for participants.

After completing a task, the tactical net control operator would ask each participant if they would like another task assignment.  Toward the end of the exercise, participants checking into their tactical nets would be asked to contact the resource net control to demobilize.  After demobilizing, the final check-in was when the participant had arrived home safely.

It was a beautiful day for driving and our family enjoyed this activity very much.  We are all licensed hams though we only used one call sign for the check-in and tasks since we were travelling together in one vehicle.

Good job Santa Cruz County ARES!  We are looking forward to joining in another ARES Scavenger Around Field Exercise again soon.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 16, 2020

What is a radiogram?

A radiogram is a formal message routed by amateur radio operators through the National Traffic System (NTS).  A radiogram is initially written down using a paper form to help organize and normalize the information.  The radiogram is relayed to volunteer radio operators who also use the radiogram paper form to copy and pass the message onward.

The radiogram has been in use for a very long time in amateur radio and retains its usefulness in emergency situations when fragile infrastructure-based communication such as Internet and telephone fail.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

August 20, 2020

Wildfire Evacuation Tactics

It is August 20, 2020, wildfires continue to rage along the central coast of California in Santa Cruz County and the neighboring Santa Clara County affecting tens of thousands of people and tens of thousands of acres.  There is zero containment so far.  Evacuation of entire communities is occurring.

I received a helpful list from a neighbor on preparing for a wildfire evacuation. I am sharing this information in case it is helpful to others.

- TURN ON yard sprinklers.  Turn them off before you evacuate.
- MOVE outdoor furniture / anything flammable to IN garage.
- TAKE DOWN shades 
- CLEAN gutters / leaves of debris
- RUN hose lines around property, brass nozzles are best. 
- Turn OFF natural gas - wrench next to meter 
- Turn ON outdoor house lights (front of house/garage) 
- CLOSE windows and doors - Remove all cloth and plastic curtains 
- EMAIL / TEXT / CALL Let family outside of area know individual / group plans - Leave a letter on kitchen counter of who you are, who is with you and where you are going and how you’re getting there - INFORM all neighbors of your plans and learn theirs 
- MOVE indoor furniture away from windows / doors to center of room 
- MOVE flammable materials to the center of the garage, ideally not on the ground. 
- PLACE extension ladder leading to roof 
- CLOSE OFF roof / eave vents - duct tape 
- DISCONNECT automatic garage door opener, manually close. 
- TAPE any gaps between garage door and ground, so no embers can blow under 
- LEAVE car unlocked with keys in ignition 
- WRITE note and paste to front door informing you have evacuated and the date. Note where the closest fire hydrant is to you. 
- POSITION security cameras to see your surroundings better 
- CUT all branches that are too close to your house. Form pile away from house, not under trees (center of driveway for example) 
- REMOVE flammable plants (lavender, etc) within 3 feet of home 
- HELP your neighbors and COMMUNICATE regularly 
- EVACUATE while you have time on your side

If you are a amateur radio operator, remember, cell phone and internet services are prone to failure.

- BRING your fully charged amateur radio HTs and charger with you (already programmed with your area's repeaters).
- LISTEN to your radio to monitor for news updates.

Do you have additional tactics to add to this list?  Please leave a comment.

Be safe,


April 5, 2020

Dr. Ryan Southworth: A Doctor Explains How to Make the Safest Face Mask

In Casa Grande, Arizona, Dr. Ryan Southworth and his wife have developed a step-to-step guide to transform HEPA filters into high efficiency face masks.  Wearing a mask whenever leaving your home has been shown to be an effective way to reduce the risk of aspirating the COVID-19 virus.  Wearing a mask is also an important method of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 should you already be infected (possibly even unknowingly).

Be prepared and consider making these masks for everyone in your home and then wearing them.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

April 4, 2020

Be prepared for COVID-19

As much as we all want to avoid COVID-19, we need to acknowledge the possibility that someone at home may become infected with the virus.  As responsible people, we need to prepare for this possibility so that we are able to care for others and also reduce exposure to those outside our homes.  Here is a checklist of items to consider having on-hand at home before you need them:

  • Prescription medication to last at least two to four-weeks
  • Personal care items to last four-weeks
    • Toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Mouthwash
    • Shampoo
    • Toilet paper
    • Extra toothbrushes
  • Bleach
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Rubber gloves / nitrile gloves
  • Paper towels
  • N95 respirators
  • Non-perishable food for two to three weeks
  • Hand-soap
  • 60+% alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Routine cleansers:
    • Dish detergent
    • Laundry detergent
    • Toilet cleanser
  • Keep your vehicle gas tank above a half-tank
  • Make sure your home first-aid kit is complete
It is wise to prepare in a balanced way.  Over-buying and hoarding are unnecessary.  Be prepared.  Be safe.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

January 1, 2019

When you need amateur radio...

"When Everything Else Fails. Amateur Radio oftentimes is our last line of defense...When you need amateur radio, you really need them."

The Hon. W. Craig Fugate
Administrator, US Department of Homeland Security, FEMA

July 7, 2012

When thunder roars, go indoors!

When thunder roars, go indoors.

Be safe.  Don't take chances with lightning.

73, NJ2X

April 21, 2012

Prepper Essentials: Communication and Information

One of the top 10 most important assets to have during a crisis is communication and the information that can be acquired through communication.  Communication can make the difference between life and death in some situations.  It is easy to recognize the high level needs for communication:
  • Communicate with your family and friends
  • Coordinate with people that can help you
  • Acquire information about what is happening in your immediate area
  • Acquire information about what is happening nationally
  • Obtain information from alternative sources (not just the official channels)
We are entirely too dependent on infrastructure and services in our daily life and take continuity for granted.  Each new disaster demonstrates that "essential" infrastructure and services are surprisingly fragile and go down when we seem to need them most.
  • Mobile phones
  • Internet
  • Electrical grid
  • Natural gas
  • Public water
  • Sewage treatment
  • Public transportation
  • Fire
  • Police
  • Local broadcasting (TV and radio)
Being well-prepared for a disaster means having the ability to live independent from infrastructure and public services.  When it comes to communication and information, shortwave radio and amateur radio can provide people with capabilities without reliance on complex and fragile infrastructure.

Emergency communications antenna

At a minimum, every prepper needs to own at least one shortwave radio.  A shortwave radio provides access to information outside of your immediate area including broadcasts originating outside the country.  Many people consider having alternative to official Government information source to be very valuable in some scenarios.  Most shortwave radios also allow reception of the local AM broadcast band which can be extremely valuable (when still operating) during a disaster (evacution routes, traffic conditions, shelter locations, ...).

Here are some minimum features to look for:
  • Battery operated and portable
  • Receives the AM broadcast band
  • Receives the HF frequency range (1.8 Mhz through 30 Mhz)
  • Supports AM, LSB, and USB modes
  • Can be connected to an external antenna
A shortwave radio is a great investment and one you will want in advance of a disaster.  Local stocks of shortwave radios will certainly be cleaned out very quickly when real disaster strikes.  A shortwave radio isn't a difficult device to operate; however, it is something you must use and familiarize yourself with before you needed it.  There are some excellent resources on the Internet to help you locate stations and frequencies to listen to.

Remember, a failure to plan is planning to fail.

Happy listening.

See other related articles on NJ2X.COM:

December 7, 2011

Amici Probantur Rebus Adversis

We recently encountered the latin phrase, "amici probantur rebus adversis" which is attributed to the Roman philosopher Cicero and translates to, "friends are proved by adversity".  This gave us pause and we were reminded of the corollary, "a fair weather friend changes with the wind".  Together these two sayings mean that we can judge who are our real friends (versus acquaintances) in difficult times.

Time and again radio amateurs have proved that they are indeed good friends to their communities facing adversity.  Hams provide emergency communication services to help those in need.  The Amateur Radio Service is there when all else fails.  So too are the radio amateurs.

Kudos to you friends.  We are grateful knowing you will be there when the going gets tough.