Jump to content
Ham Community
RF Connection is proud to co-sponsor Ham Community and its members – keeping it free of advertising clutter – right up to the end of December 2020.

Say thank you by visiting their website or special Ham Community page.

Self-Deploy?  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. Should HAMs self-deploy to an emergency?

    • Never self-deploy anywhere
      7
    • Self-deploy anywhere
      0
    • Self-deploy within one's own region
      1
    • Self-deploy but never alone, only as a team
      3


Recommended Posts

EXPERT ELMER

For years, different emergency responders have self-deployed. First doctors and nurses did it during the African famines of the seventies. Cajun Navy has done so more recently during many floods in the U.S. I'm wondering what you all think about the notion of self-deployment among hams? Authorities do not want us to self deploy. Ask anyone at Homeland, ARRL/ARES, Red Cross and they will always tell you the same thing, that we are undisciplined and that self-deployment is dangerous. I won't take sides for now, I'll just let the debate take its course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
48 minutes ago, WA2WMR said:

In my younger days, perhaps. But at my age now, no.

 

 But what do you think of the concept of self deployment? Do you think that hams that would self-deploy would be more of a nuisance, or more of an asset? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Better make darned sure they don't become victims and need established rescuers to rescue them. If the evacuation order comes, get out! Don't say, "I'm gonna stay and operate my radio" as the flood waters are rising and threatening to cut off your escape. All you may end up using your radio for is to call for help as you sit on your roof.

I'm not that familiar with emergency operations, but the one time I monitored during a real emergency (the earthquake a few years ago), I was very unimpressed. The exchanges on a repeater that I had a very strong signal into Herndon, VA went something like this:

NET CONTROL (NC): "Any stations with emergency traffic, please call in now."

STATION 1 (S1): "This is S1. I felt it strongly where I am in xyztown"

NC: "Thank you for the report. Any stations with emergency traffic, please call in now."

S2: "This is S2. My brother in law works near the earthquake site. I can get information from him tonight."

NC: "Thank you for the report. Any stations with emergency traffic, please call in now."

S3: "This is S3. This other repeater has someone near the earthquake location. You should monitor that repeater."

NC: "Thank you for the report. Any stations with emergency traffic, please call in now."

And on and on it went like this. Since I don't know the protocols involved in emergency traffic handling, I don't really know if this was good emergency operating. However, I am not sure who is worse. The idiots who kept checking in without any emergency traffic or the net control operator for not ripping them a new one. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER

Hey Lind, well, several things. First of all, as unfortunate as those exchanges sound, I'm in sad stitches. Indeed, it's both funny and tragic. But you are so right. Currently, our emergency traffic is often lacksadaisical at best. It actually makes me think/rethink my own position. You see, I'm inclined to think that self-deployment is a good thing. I do so based on the experience of other civil society organizations that have learned to self-deploy effectively and efficiently. I am thinking of organizations such as the Cajun Navy. I am also thinking of organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. Both of these started as as last minute last minute, let's help out, type of organization. Ultimately, they both became very effective in the field. And so, I ask myself, would it not make sense that, in an emergency, a real one, amateur radio operators become the eyes and ears on the ground. More recently, I have had mixed thoughts, however, in that the authorities do not want us to self deploy. They've made that abundantly clear. However, they did so with rescue boats at one point as well. And yet now, a bunch of a bunch of guys and gals showing up in a flood zone with their outboard motors, is a welcome sight. Can one not imagine, if amateur radio operators were properly organized and trained, we might not become as effective?

What brought me to this point is the fact that current response structures, in Amateur Radio, are faulty, at best. ARES, I believe even in its revamped state, is antiquated and inefficient. I took the classes, including the FEMA ones, as they asked, I have never heard back, Nada, Zero. I'm on no one's radar, I'm not on a list, I've never received even an acknowledgment. And ask yourself, where were amateur radio operators during last year's hurricane season?

I could go on. I'll stop for now. But suffice it to say that for now, amateur radio operators, who I consider to be an invaluable asset, are not being used adequately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bottom line here is safety and accountability of persons.  No one is of any help, and even create further drain on the system, if they become part of the rescue needs (i.e., stranded, broke down, injured).  While I absolutely understand the governmental systems do not always do what is desired in a perceivable timely manner and boots on the ground can get great things done, it is bigger than any of us.

Clearly the key is regular training and exercises locally and regionally, setting up the system of response to include radio operators being activated and accounted for.  While many do not want more classes and drills, "work", while doing a volunteer activity, these are the things that make the system work more efficiently.  And in turn more safely in bad situations.

So - no, we should not self deploy.  Providing local information from where we already are, home/work, at the time of incident is valuable.  But actively moving in to an emergency/disaster situation without a request/order/directions (self-deploy) is a big no.

Edited by KB7THL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
44 minutes ago, KB7THL said:

The bottom line here is safety and accountability of persons.  No one is of any help, and even create further drain on the system, if they become part of the rescue needs (i.e., stranded, broke down, injured).  While I absolutely understand the governmental systems do not always do what is desired in a perceivable timely manner and boots on the ground can get great things done, it is bigger than any of us.

Clearly the key is regular training and exercises locally and regionally, setting up the system of response to include radio operators being activated and accounted for.  While many do not want more classes and drills, "work", while doing a volunteer activity, these are the things that make the system work more efficiently.  And in turn more safely in bad situations.

So - no, we should not self deploy.  Providing local information from where we already are, home/work, at the time of incident is valuable.  But actively moving in to an emergency/disaster situation without a request/order/directions (self-deploy) is a big no.

You make some excellent points. I'll sleep on it and respond further soon. Great discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/22/2019 at 2:54 AM, K3MRI said:

What brought me to this point is the fact that current response structures, in Amateur Radio, are faulty, at best. ARES, I believe even in its revamped state, is antiquated and inefficient. I took the classes, including the FEMA ones, as they asked, I have never heard back, Nada, Zero. I'm on no one's radar, I'm not on a list, I've never received even an acknowledgment. And ask yourself, where were amateur radio operators during last year's hurricane season?

What changes would you suggest to the current response structure?  How can HAM Radio improve so that we can gain back the credibility that it once had and has lost?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
7 hours ago, VE6RWP said:

What changes would you suggest to the current response structure?  How can HAM Radio improve so that we can gain back the credibility that it once had and has lost?

Two excellent questions.

  1. Changes to the structure? That would assume that we have a working structure. In the U.S., we have ARES, we once had RACES, we occasionally have some county auxiliary services, and we have individual clubs. None of these have a credible response structure, none of these have a proper, bona fide, well-vetted roster, none of these have a portfolio of successful deployments or responses. In other words, it feels like we've been bandying around the terms emergency and response for decades, but never actually committing to it. Hence my vision of a more citizen/community driven, organic effort to get the ball rolling. I won't bore you here, not yet, but I've drafted a white paper wherein I lay out the vision of a more Cajun Navy, or MSF model wherein we actually do deploy when there is an actual need. We do stand at street corners in a flood zone giving people the means to communicate with the outside world. We do publish standards for those who 'choose' to get involved. There's more... another time.
  2. As for what we can do cred-wise? If we don't intervene, if we keep preparing, if we keep saying that we need to be qualified, then we will continue to be seen as talkers and not doers. The only way of gaining credibility is to offer results. Who do you believe, the guy with a big mouth or the guy with a Purple Heart? 💜 I know who I believe. I believe in those who have gone to war, or saved a life, or even just volunteered in the homeless shelter. I believe in people who see a problem and try to fix it. We're not doing that. As amateur radio operators, we sometimes talk the big game but then sit on the sidelines and watch. And yet we have an amazing talent pool. I have rarely seen a more sophisticated, competent, imaginative group of people. We could jimmy-rig ourselves out of being stranded on Mars. Worry about an expedition to Mars, send some Hams!!

Enough ranting for today, I have to get ready - packing to go to an airfield to operate during the North American SSB QSO Party. If you hear @K3MRI, @K3HLT, @KW4TO, @W3JRD, or @W4DOI today, you've contacted our very first outing as a Ham Community team 😎

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your perspective, I look forward to reading your white paper.

As the world changes and communications tools improve for emergency responders and civilians alike, the HAM community needs to finds it's niche. Here in Alberta Emergency Services are moving to an encrypted trunked radio system for all first responders that is tied to Cell towers. It allows them to collaborate as well as normal communications.  It is all good till the cell system and internet goes down in a large area. The Alberta Emergency Measures Agency still has a HAM radio in it's EOC so HAM is still in the plan. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
1 hour ago, VE6RWP said:

Thanks for your perspective, I look forward to reading your white paper.

As the world changes and communications tools improve for emergency responders and civilians alike, the HAM community needs to finds it's niche. Here in Alberta Emergency Services are moving to an encrypted trunked radio system for all first responders that is tied to Cell towers. It allows them to collaborate as well as normal communications.  It is all good till the cell system and internet goes down in a large area. The Alberta Emergency Measures Agency still has a HAM radio in it's EOC so HAM is still in the plan. 

Right, in the U.S. there is the same project, it's called FirstNet. But like you said, when the infrastructure comes down, so too do these systems. You wonder why hard lines were so quickly abandoned. But also as you say, there are hams built in to EOCs, but we're truly seen as both secondary and to a large degree, an annoyance. There are, of course, exceptions. Our local hospital is very receptive to amateur radio and have installed a complete, two radio, fm, ssb and packet system. But most are not. Which brings us back to self-deployment... To be continued 🤨

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Self Deployment implies HAM radio is a first responder organization. We are currently seen as a secondary service to support first responders when they ask for us.  This would be the position of ARES. Would not self-deployment without coordination with the incident commander just re-enforce the impression we are unprofessional and an annoyance? HAM would need to institute some kind of formal training, certification that is recognized and show that we are able to coordinate our response with incident commanders,  There would be reputation building needed to have HAM radio seen as both essential and professional.  Just because we are volunteers does not mean we cannot be professional. Look at Volunteer fire fighters and volunteer search and rescue.  What is it they have done that HAM radio have lost or stopped doing?  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
Just now, VE6RWP said:

Self Deployment implies HAM radio is a first responder organization. We are currently seen as a secondary service to support first responders when they ask for us.  This would be the position of ARES. Would not self-deployment without coordination with the incident commander just re-enforce the impression we are unprofessional and an annoyance? HAM would need to institute some kind of formal training, certification that is recognized and show that we are able to coordinate our response with incident commanders,  There would be reputation building needed to have HAM radio seen as both essential and professional.  Just because we are volunteers does not mean we cannot be professional. Look at Volunteer fire fighters and volunteer search and rescue.  What is it they have done that HAM radio have lost or stopped doing?  

Hi Ron. I really really want to type a ten-page response but I don't have time right now. I'll leave you with one thought for now, Cajun Navy. They decided that they would not serve the 'client' at least not initially. Very quickly, their worth was established. I'm just postulating that we might have to go through a paradigm shift to ultimately mobilize enough of us to do the 'right' work. In short, how many amateur radio operators currently participate in emergencies? If there are enough, then my points are moot. If there are not enough of us, then there's obviously a problem, one that I would love to address.

More pages to follow another day 😉

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok. So there's a flood and the Cajun Navy goes around and rescues people off rooftops, etc without waiting for "official " request or approval. What do you see us doing?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
23 minutes ago, WA2WMR said:

Ok. So there's a flood and the Cajun Navy goes around and rescues people off rooftops, etc without waiting for "official " request or approval. What do you see us doing?

 

Hey Lind. Well, for starters, you've heard my speech already; I've given it at the club breakfast enough times. Here's what I think I'll do. One of these days I'm going to sit down and record a podcast based on my White Paper. For now, I'll just say this: I am not advocating for an every-op-for-themselves approach. I have an organized paradigm in mind. What's different is that my concept integrates with the 'client', it does not simply wait for the 'client' to call us up. And you know me well enough to know that I am a structural foundation to the concept. I'm just hoping that we can do more. As for the 'what' we would do specifically/operationally... to be continued 😊

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
Just now, WA2WMR said:

White Paper? White Paper? Where can I get a copy? Is it online?

 

Not yet Lind. I don't want to share it quite yet. A few people have read it, but I don't want it distributed. What's more, I need to revise it, I've made a few changes since writing it. If you'd like I'll share it with you individually for now and then in coming weeks/months I'll circulate it more widely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Relationships are vital. With relationships come expectations. As amateurs we should never self-deploy. If we have a good relationship with a served agency then we know what they expect from us regarding deployment. Good practice is to align with a group, ARES/RACES/EMCOMM/AUXCOMM, whatever you call yourselves, get credentialed, strengthen your relationship, train to the expected standards and then deploy based on the needs of the served agency and the direction of that agency. NEVER SELF DEPLOY!

73,

Brendan KM4HRR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We all need to be aware that answering a call out from a recognized provider such as the Amateur Radio Relay League (the League) does not guarantee good performance. When Hurricane Katrina devastated Puerto Rico the League organized a deployment based entirely on what a client asked for. I know from talking to a federal official, who was in situ and in whom I have complete confidence, that all did not go as planned. In spite of the deployment of volunteer radio operators selected and managed entirely by the League some of the operators went rogue. I do not know how many but I do know it was more than one. My informant has no reason whatsoever to make things  up. I know him as a fellow Amateur Radio Operator (ARO) who has no incentive to bad mouth other AROs. He is actively engaged in attempts to gin up the capabilities and professionalism of AROs who want to do a good job when they are needed.

There is presently no recognized Resource Typing in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) for radio operators as individuals or teams. A resource type has a known set of capabilities. If the client wants a communications pathway which is not dependent on the existing, and possibly unavailable, commercial communications infrastructure, that client has no mechanism to request an appropriate resource. That prospective client doesn't know what resource to ask for. All they know is they cannot communicate with people that they need to communicate with. Even if they new that radio was what they needed they would not know what kind of radio support to ask for.

Don't be confused by FEMA having names for radio people. A Radio Operator is a RADO, a Communications Technician is a COMT, a Communications Leader is a COML, and so fourth. That is not the same as a resource type. Every Squad Boss on a wild fire crew is a RADO in a sense. They know how to use the radio they have been equipped with, what it will do, how to keep it working at a very basic level, and were to obtain repair or replacement. If you haven't been a wildland firefighter then you wouldn't know that. Even if you do know it that will not do you a lot of good when you need 11 mobile radios for field expedient fire engines. You also don't know and probably don't expect that one version of mobile radios is not available to you without a radio operator. The off duty firefighters who have been called back to work will be quite surprised that they are not allowed to operate the radios they have been provided with. They will be annoyed that they have to fit a third person into the front seat of the cab with them to operate the radio. In a regular fire apparatus cab there would be extra seats for people in the back seat but not in the front. With a field expedient fire engine there probably won't be a back seat. Most of the crew would be riding on the hose bed, tank top, or wherever they can hang on. Now you come along and tell the unit commander that you have to ride in front to operate the radio and they're not going to like that. Semper Gumby, meaning Always Flexible, has to be your attitude through out any operation.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EXPERT ELMER
38 minutes ago, W3TDH said:

We all need to be aware that answering a call out from a recognized provider such as the Amateur Radio Relay League (the League) does not guarantee good performance. When Hurricane Katrina devastated Puerto Rico the League organized a deployment based entirely on what a client asked for. I know from talking to a federal official, who was in situ and in whom I have complete confidence, that all did not go as planned. In spite of the deployment of volunteer radio operators selected and managed entirely by the League some of the operators went rogue. I do not know how many but I do know it was more than one. My informant has no reason whatsoever to make things  up. I know him as a fellow Amateur Radio Operator (ARO) who has no incentive to bad mouth other AROs. He is actively engaged in attempts to gin up the capabilities and professionalism of AROs who want to do a good job when they are needed.

There is presently no recognized Resource Typing in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) for radio operators as individuals or teams. A resource type has a known set of capabilities. If the client wants a communications pathway which is not dependent on the existing, and possibly unavailable, commercial communications infrastructure, that client has no mechanism to request an appropriate resource. That prospective client doesn't know what resource to ask for. All they know is they cannot communicate with people that they need to communicate with. Even if they new that radio was what they needed they would not know what kind of radio support to ask for.

Don't be confused by FEMA having names for radio people. A Radio Operator is a RADO, a Communications Technician is a COMT, a Communications Leader is a COML, and so fourth. That is not the same as a resource type. Every Squad Boss on a wild fire crew is a RADO in a sense. They know how to use the radio they have been equipped with, what it will do, how to keep it working at a very basic level, and were to obtain repair or replacement. If you haven't been a wildland firefighter then you wouldn't know that. Even if you do know it that will not do you a lot of good when you need 11 mobile radios for field expedient fire engines. You also don't know and probably don't expect that one version of mobile radios is not available to you without a radio operator. The off duty firefighters who have been called back to work will be quite surprised that they are not allowed to operate the radios they have been provided with. They will be annoyed that they have to fit a third person into the front seat of the cab with them to operate the radio. In a regular fire apparatus cab there would be extra seats for people in the back seat but not in the front. With a field expedient fire engine there probably won't be a back seat. Most of the crew would be riding on the hose bed, tank top, or wherever they can hang on. Now you come along and tell the unit commander that you have to ride in front to operate the radio and they're not going to like that. Semper Gumby, meaning Always Flexible, has to be your attitude through out any operation.

Tom, that is truly one of the better explanations I have heard for 'not' deploying. This said, and you and I, and MCACS, have had this conversation before, about those first few moments when a disaster is so fresh that clients have not had time to deploy proper command and control. I know you can guess that I'm about to bring up the Cajun Navy. I was so impressed by their work. Similarly, in their early days, Doctors Without Borders, whose founder I know well, did the same, they just picked up and went to Somalia.

Caveat, part of me is in 100% agreement that self-deployment is a recipe for disaster. You might very well add chaos into chaos. But I actually have a model. I've been working on a model for self-deployment that depends less on client directives and more on a schematic of competencies. This schematic would include known roles and responsibilities and also have an SOP for injection into theater. I won't detail it in this thread right now, but I just want to say that, I personally believe, given the right framework, hams could do much during those first few moments when comms are critical and lacking. I'll give you an imaginary scenario. You can never stop neighbors from helping neighbors. When there is a disaster, natural or man-made, people tend to rally to each other's assistance. Let's use a flood as an example. I live, say, in a section of town that is isolated. I have survived. I know that others are likely injured. I want to help. Cell is down. That means that I have no comms to get help even if I find someone that needs urgent care. Along comes a Cajun Navy guy. He might have comms. He might not. What if we were with them? Or what if we had our own means to be on-site and help? Or, or, or...

Basically, I'm a little frustrated by the client-provider dynamic that we are using and the general lack of recognition AROs have in real-world emergencies. 

I insist, this can only work if there is a new schematic (or framework) of competencies. We'd have to reinvent emcomm roles so that an injected volunteer would do so in a specific function. Please note that this is, for now, a utopic discussion. I don't want to bring down all that has been accomplished in a hundred years of emcomm. But I think it's worth having an open conversation about how we improve the space.

Don't shoot 😎

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the comments about the types of traffic into net control during the immediate earthquake aftermath interesting.  I participate in SKYWARN as a Ham spotter (I'm sure many on here do as well).  The NWS is specific about the types of reports they want to hear.  The net control script even details the specific types of information that operators are asked to report.

How many times have you heard "Well, it's still sunny here" or "It just started raining" or whatever?  Then again, if you listen to the HF bands at all, you will hear all manner of butchered phonetic alphabets.  As a newbie who learned that it was critical to use the International Phonetic Alphabet, it is both surprising and confusing to hear the lack of discipline among Hams.  Is "kilobyte" equivalent to "KB" or just "K"?  When someone says "whiskey three tequila sunrise" are we having cocktail hour or is that a call sign?

For those of you who come from a military background, the level of discipline (or lack) is probably a serious concern.  

I grew up as a sailor, racing small boats, teaching sailing, and serving as a race patrol for large regattas.  Once, I was racing Lasers when I was in high school.  It was a very windy day, and everyone kept capsizing. Usually it is very easy to right a Laser and continue on.  But this day, the wind and waves were so high that I could not keep the bow into the wind.  A "crash boat" (race patrol) came along to assist. I needed one thing: hold my bowline and keep the bow of my boat into the wind.  Well, this guy had operated a crash boat before and supposedly knew what he was doing.  But he could not keep the outboard engine away from me -- remember, I was in the water at this point.  After having him bring the propeller dangerously close to me twice, I sent him on his way figuring that I might struggle to right the boat, but at least I would not need need stitches.  

The point of the story is this:  Despite having the best of intentions, experience levels for any acquired skill vary widely without standardized training, testing and practice.  Operating an outboard motor boat is not very hard until the conditions become less than ideal, then it starts to get more difficult to make the boat do what you want it to do.  The same would appear to apply to Amateur Radio.  So if we are going to have a cadre of EmComms Operators that are prepared to deploy (whether on their own initiative or as part of an agency response) training and maintenance of skills will be critical.

In the case of SKYWARN or the earthquake comms, many people seem to want to participate.  They have a license and they want to talk on the air.  If they stopped and considered that their non-essential traffic might delay a report of something essential, people would probably stop before picking up the mic.  For an EmComms squad to be effective, this process must be ingrained.

Just my 2¢.  And take it with a grain of salt, cause I have only had my license a few months.  I barely know what I am taking about when it comes to Amateur Radio.

Skip W3PDP

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...