On March 12th, 2011, the 1st annual New Hampshire ARES Academy was held at the State Fire Academy in Concord. Almost one-hundred people, mainly involved with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, participated. Representing East Rockingham County ARES, were Deuce (N1YI), Jim (W1MCG), Carol (KB1QPN), Carl (WA1ZCQ), Bill (KB1EOF) and Chris (K1PRD).
The morning began with introductions and brief presentations by,
- Curtis Metzger, Hospital Preparedness Coordinator, NH Dept. of Health & Human Services
- Ian Dyer, State Disaster Coordinator, American Red Cross
- Scott Reynolds, KC2JCB, Forecaster, National Weather Service
- John Wynne, Chief of Communications, NH Homeland Security & Emergency Management
The presentations given by these speakers touched on the status of the Hospital Amateur Radio Program (HARP), the strengthening memorandum of understanding (MOU) between amateur radio operators, specifically ARES, and the American Red Cross in New Hampshire, SKYWARN training and the expanding role of WebEOC, the web-enabled crisis information management software being used statewide.
After being split into groups, we spent the day rotating through four training sessions run in separate classrooms at the Fire Academy. Each session lasted about one-hour. The first session was “Go Kits & Expedient Antennas” presented by Bill Noyce, AB1AV. Bill gave an excellent presentation and pointed out the need to divide your go-kit into several kits based on duration of deployment. Additionally, he discussed some of the antennas to consider when out in the field.
Session two was entitled, “Introduction to Nets, Net Control and Net Management” by Bill Lana, N4COY. Topics included the mission of a net, e.g., message handling, logistics, collecting situation reports, etc. We had a chance to practice succinct, tactical communications during a net and compared this to a verbose, “wordy” exchange.
The next session was, “Welcome to Radiograms” presented by Pete Stohrer, K1PJS, the Public Information Coordinator for the NH Section. Pete spoke about the history of radiograms and the National Traffic System (NTS) before walking us through the correct way to compose and pass a radiogram. I asked him how long a typical, routine message took to make it from New Hampshire to California. Depending on when the message is sent, it usually takes 24 hours or less for the message to be delivered to the final recipient. Also mentioned was that CW operators can routinely pass more traffic per hour than those operating in phone mode.
The last session of the day covered, “NBEMS Basics.” Larry Levesque, KA1VGM, presented a detailed talk and tutorial on using Fldigi — the NH ARES preferred Narrow Band Emergency Messaging Software (NBEMS) package. Fldigi is a free and open source, digital mode, sound card-based, communications software suite available for Linux, Free-BSD, OS X, Windows XP, W2K, and Vista. Learn more about NBEMS.
Overall, the caliber of the speakers, the subjects covered and the organization of the 1st annual New Hampshire ARES Academy was outstanding. It was a day packed with information, learning and exchanging ideas with fellow amateur radio operators. Iʼm hopeful weʼll see future editions of the Academy and I encourage anyone in ARES, or those with an interest in emergency communication to attend.