Safe City Programs
HAM Radio Communications
EMERGENCY RADIO COMMUNICATIONS
After the release of the post-Katrina report from the US House of Representatives many cities and small communities around the country are establishing or improving emergency radio communications capability to support local operations in case of a communications emergency – when telephone, law enforcement, fire and rescue services, cell phones and other normal communications are disrupted or overloaded.
|The DeBary Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located at DeBary Town Hall now has a complete Ham (Amateur) Radio station to support Emergency Communications (EMCOMMS.) The Ham Radio shack consists of two identical VHF/UHF transceivers each with a dual band antenna, one at 60 ft, and a packet Terminal Node Controller (TNC) and computer for digital messaging – E-Mail Over Ham Radio. With this set up voice and digital communications can be ongoing at the same time and with two identical transceivers a degree of back-up is provided should one fail or one antenna be damaged.|
The EOC also supports a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) UHF repeater with the antenna at 70 ft, several UHF hand-held radios for use by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and an 800 MHz base transceiver and 800 MHz hand held radios for tactical use by CERT.
Ham Radio tests performed on April 28th, 2006 prior to the 2006 hurricane season, proved that voice communications can be established to virtually any place in Volusia and Seminole Counties. Six different vhf repeaters were tested and simplex (direct w/o the use of a repeater) worked very well out to many of the eight other participating sites. Both the Volusia County and Seminole County EOCs can be worked using several repeaters and on simplex.
The digital station at the EOC, which runs 24/7, can provide e-mail over ham radio without an internet connection. It is part of a growing network in Florida and the world to support transfers of large amounts of error-free information in support of EMCOMMs. Outlook Express is used at the EOC Ham Station, so there is virtually no training or learning curve for those with e-mail experience to be right at home with the e-mail system.
The DeBary EOC is managed by Alan Williamson, Safety Coordinator for the City of DeBary. Both CERT and Ham Radio volunteers may be utilized during times of communications emergency. In particular, DeBary area licensed Ham Radio operators are needed to operate the Amateur Radio equipment and possibly help train CERT volunteers in radio procedures. Licensed amateurs in DeBary or nearby areas who are not presently involved with other area EMCOMMs groups are welcomed to participate. It is not necessary to join any club or group, or attend regular meetings, but some formal training is required, much using the internet at home.
If you would like to stop by and see the Ham Radio shack at the EOC, call Alan Williamson to make arrangements. (386) 668-2040.
If you hold a current Amateur Radio license and are interested in helping the City of DeBary as a volunteer Ham Radio operator at the EOC, contact Alan by telephone or e-mail.
The basic requirements include:
The goal is to have a cadre of local hams who are interested in supporting their DeBary neighbors and who will not have too far to travel to pitch in and help during communications emergencies.
Ham Radio - During a communications emergency when the EOC would be activated, voice communications may be employed to keep the City in contact with similar sites throughout E. Central Florida including county EOCs and other ham radio EMCOMMs groups. This was successfully demonstrated on April 28, 2006. Voice communications may also be employed to communicate with on-going tactical field operations in DeBary, throughout SW Volusia County, and the adjoining parts of Seminole County.
CERT – UHF or 800 MHz operations will be used to maintain contact between the EOC and CERT units in the field. Family Radio Service (FRS) radios may also be used between tactical field sites.
E-MAIL OVER HAM RADIO
During a communications emergency, when there may be no internet connection in the area, the Ham Radio station can provide conventional e-mail messaging for essential City communications to any e-mail address in the world. E-mail messaging may also be provided for private citizens to distant family/friends who need to be notified of welfare or status. If an e-mail address is not avaialble, the name, address and phone number of the distant family/friend will do. Of course DeBary citizens will have to get their information to the EOC.
LINKS TO LOCAL HAM RADIO GROUPS
Indian Mound Amateur Radio Society (IMARS) – Meets every Monday morning from 1000-1100 HRS (sharp) at the DeBary EOC (Town Hall.)
Seminole County ARES/RACES Group (SARG) Meets Third Thursdays of each month at 1930 Hrs at the Public Safety Building on 17/92 in Sanford.
West Volusia Amateur Radio Society (WESTVARS) Meets Fourth Mondays of each month at 1900 Hrs September through May at the Lutheran Home in DeLand.
Volusia Amateur Radio Communications Emergency Services (VARCES) Meets at 1500 Hrs on Third Saturdays of each month at the Volusia County Fire Emergency services facility off Route 92 between DeLand and Daytona Beach.
Looking for an Amateur Radio License Exam Session near you? Check here.
MORE ABOUT AMATEUR RADIO
If you want to learn more about Ham Radio check this website - ARRL Hello-Radio Program