20110501 SitRep

Madison County ARES/RACES Sitrep for Sunday, 5-1-2011

A. Agencies served:
Madison County EMA
Madison/Marshall County American Red Cross
N. AL Medical Reserve Corps.
Madison County VOAD (Volunteers Active on Disasters)
Salvation Army
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
Seventh Day Adventist Food Distribution
N. Alabama Food Bank
2-1-1 Crisis Service
Radio Station Lite 96.9 FM
Food service at Joe Davis Stadium

B. Repeaters used:
146.94 Primary Net (NCS, EC and some AECs at EOC with access to WEB EOC)
147.22 Coordination backchannel for 146.94
147.15 Inter-County Coord. (Marshall, Limestone & Morgan Counties)
147.10 ditto
147.00 ditto
147.18 Rebroadcast of Public officials briefings each morning
HF comm. with State EMA

In recovery phase:
147.22 Volunteer coordination
147.24 ditto

C. Traffic Load (gross estimates – an average of one complete two-way transmission per minute; with up to five transmissions before issue resolved) = approx. 150 issues per day (probably more when we inspect logs) on our primary repeater. Examples: clarification of locations, reports of damage or road obstructions, requests for medical supplies, logistics, requests for police/sheriff, medical emergencies needing EMT/Ambulance, etc.
– 70% resolved within net (not needing EMA decision)
– 30% resolved after consultation with EMA components

D. Hams active on primary net (unique callsigns): Estimated 100 today; a bit less on previous days.

E. Significant points:
1. We have been re-broadcasting, on the 146.94 repeater at first and 147.18 later on as NARA removed the 5 minute timeout, the EMA press conference (main source of info and recommendations for community) each day. Because of the widespread loss of power, landline and cell connectivity this HR conduit was often the only source of vital community–wide information for some.

2. We provided a ham radio operator to a local commercial FM station to provide a backup link for EMA bulletins of broad interest. The station had lost all infrastructure-based communication, and was unable to propagate official EMA info to the community.

3. In planning the team structure for field-deployed units, the VOAD incident management organization agreed with an approach that placed FRS/GMRS radios with team leaders (non-hams) while a ham, nearby, would consolidate field reports and relay to the net. In a few hours after that planning session we had secured donations of 27 pairs of personal “family” radios for this purpose (Gander Mountain, Home Depot, and WalMart).

4. Our support from served agencies has been superb. We have been provided with needed resources; and, especially, timely access to served agency officials.

5. Ham volunteers have been sufficient. Many hams responded to requests made last night (4-31), and again today, asking for help in manning significant nodes (for example: ARC, medical clinics, & VOAD dispatch centers) and to be field-deployed. We’ll probably need that to continue tomorrow (Monday) and as long as utilities remain limited. Long-term recovery needs will depend on whether and when normal comm. is restored.

6. Most of our comm. is falling into three categories: Emergency, priority, or routine support for our served agencies; logistics coordination for our own purposes; and dissemination of useful information to the ham community (and anyone else listening).

7. Because the majority of our traffic is direct and point-to-point, we have elected not to formalize messages. Errors have been few, and those were rapidly corrected resulting in (we think) optimal throughput for this somewhat unique environment. If long term recovery involves us, we might want to revisit that choice and use modes and procedures appropriate for “record traffic”

8. Knowing we might be in for a long haul, we are trying very hard to balance net rigidity with some room for “being human”; allowing for occasional stress-relieving (a little oil in the gears once in a while), This approach seems to be working.

9. We’re quite sure that callsigns heard on the net represent only a small fraction of those listening. The net discipline has been really outstanding; EC morning “peptalks” and evening debriefs have stressed the fact that silence is a valued behavior, and that “listening first” is an additional virtue.

10. Additional needs: we are fortunate to have what we need right now. But if this continues, burnout will take a toll and we’ll experience a shortage of volunteers. For now, we can defer to other, more heavily stricken, locations.


Rolf Goedhart, K4RGG
ARES Emergency Coordinator, Madison County
(here is the parent article – for additional links)
( https://w4hmc.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/alabama-tornado-outbreak/ )


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