Musings of Captain Justice a/k/a Gil Jones

In an emergency, you need a ham …

… or really quite a few hams.

ARES drill

No, not the 4-legged pork kind of hams but the Amateur Radio Emergency Services kind, “ARES” for short. On November 5 amateur radio operators from the Burnet-Llano County ARES organization participated in a statewide exercise to hone the skills they would use in an actual emergency to assist local hospitals, government, and law enforcement agencies.

Over a dozen of the “hams” communicated around the Burnet and Llano County area via their local radio repeater system and across the state using both voice and digital radio networks into every corner of the vast expanse of Texas.

An Indian amateur radio operator on air.

Image via Wikipedia

Digital activity

In addition to the familiar picture of the operator hunkered over a radio, microphone in hand, many of them were at the keyboards of computers connected to electronic equipment that generated radio-borne messages similar to email and text messaging.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service

Image via Wikipedia

Local agency participation

ARES in the Highland Lakes supports many local agencies. The hospitals in Llano and Burnet were represented and in Burnet, ham operator Angie Sierra manned the station that is permanently installed there, sending and receiving messages that in an emergency, could be relaying life-saving information. The EMS/VFD station was staffed by local EMS paramedic/ham operator Robyn Richter while the Marble Falls Mobile Command Center (the big bus) was manned by Assistant Chief Ted Young, also an amateur radio operator. The local exercise was organized by Gil Jones, ARES Emergency Coordinator Gil Jones.

As the motto says, “When all else fails, amateur radio works.” “Exercises like last weekend help to ensure that we can support local agencies, and private citizens with welfare inquiries, if commercial communications systems are disrupted or overloaded in an emergency” according to Jones. That cell phone in your hand will be the first to fail in a widespread natural disaster.

Statewide drill

The November 5 exercise was a statewide joint event for ARES, RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) and Texas Army MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System).  Also exercised were Rapid Response Task Force teams.  A fairly new resource in Texas, RRTFs are designed to conduct re-entry operations immediately following a disaster but can also remain in the impacted area for transition to recovery operations. Hams are deployed with RRTFs, and the local ARES unit would directly support their efforts in an event impacting the Highland Lakes.

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Yes, this is written like a press release, because it has a dual purpose ….


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