Japan Asks Radio Amateurs to Keep Frequencies Clear As Country Goes into Recovery Mode after Devastating Earthquake

From ARRL:

03/14/2011

After the 8.9 earthquake that struck near Sendai, Japan at 2:46 JST (0546 UTC) on Friday, March 11, the island nation is trying to recover. Soon after the earthquake — which the US Geological Survey (USGS) is calling the largest to hit the island nation in 140 years — Japan has been rocked by tsunamis and power outages caused by trouble at a nuclear power station. Reports from Japan tell of phone and Internet service still up in most parts of the country. Even so, the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) — that country’s IARU Member-Society — has asked that 7.030 MHz be kept clear for emergency use. Other reports are asking that these additional frequencies be kept clear: 3.525, 7.030, 14.100, 21.200 and 28.200 MHz.

IARU Region 3 Secretary Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, said that at the request of Central Emergency Communication Committee, JARL is operating JA1RL — its HQ station in Tokyo — and regional HQ stations. He said that JA1RL is using 7 MHz SSB, 144 MHz SSB/FM and 430 MHz SSB/FM: “Many other radio amateurs are thanked for providing information and exchanging support to the rescue and disaster relief operations. Those who can operate in the affected areas are providing a lifeline for rescue teams and those at local shelters. Some stations are operating with car batteries and others with engine generators.”

Yamamoto said that Toru Tanaka, JR3QHQ — the JARL Branch Manager in Osaka — is monitoring 7.043 MHz, gathering incident information on the radio and forwarding this information via the Internet.

On its website, JARL advised radio amateurs in Japan that they may be called upon to be offered or used as a means of contacting emergency response headquarters and a nearby shelter. JARL also advised that depending on the operational status of the shelter and the emergency response headquarters, there might not be any electricity. JARL said that radio amateurs should volunteer to assist when and where needed “in good faith.”

The Hindu Business Line, a newspaper in India, reported that hams in India are contacting hams in Japan to get information concerning their loved ones. When a father in India could not get in touch with his daughter in Japan after the quake, he turned to a friend who was a radio amateur. In turn, the Indian amateur posted a message on an e-mail reflector where another ham relayed the message to a radio amateur in Japan. Through this method, the father learned that his daughter was safe.

In earthquake- and tsunami-hit Japan, ham radio operators and social networking sites have helped link families to loved ones in Japan. But according to the newspaper, connecting to Japanese ham radio operators is not easy. Sometimes messages are relayed from India to Thailand-based operators who, in turn, relay the messages to Japan. “Since most Indian operators do not know Japanese, communication is difficult and the airwaves are scanned for English-speaking Japanese operators,” the newspaper reported. “Nevertheless, Japanese ham radio operators are using their radio network and the Internet to relay messages.”

Japan has 1.3 million hams and according to Yamamoto, is not in need of external emergency communication help, although this has been kindly offered. “Basically the efforts being made are purely voluntary,” he said. “No organized emergency communications have been arranged.”

Yamamoto said that along with the after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami, “another problem is the nuclear power plant where the water supply system failure caused overheating of the nuclear fuel bar. That caused some radioactive gas release from the plant and people have been evacuated from the surrounding area.”

Yamamoto said that as of 10 AM (JST) on Monday, March 14, police in Japan have stated that the death toll has risen to 1627, with 1720 people still missing. “It is only the official count and the number is still expected to increase,” he said. “Thousands of bodies are reported to have been found on the coast of the tsunami-suffered area.” IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Chairman Jim Linton, VK3PC, said that a source in the Miyagi prefecture reported that the death toll will be in the order of tens of thousands in that prefecture alone.

The earthquake also damaged electric power generation plants fuelled by oil or natural gas, resulting in a shortage of electricity. Linton said that Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to stop supplying power to certain parts of its service area on rotation basis to cut power consumption. This shortage of power may also stop or restrict the operation of the train systems around Tokyo.

Amateur Radio Response in the US

Tsunami waves reached Santa Cruz, California — about 100 miles south of San Francisco — around 8 AM (PST) on March 11. Early that morning, the Santa Cruz County ARES® Team activated the Santa Cruz County Tsunami Resource Net in advance of the anticipated 5-7 foot wave.

According to Santa Cruz County ARES® Public Information Officer Bill Conklin, AF6OH, more than 30 local ARES® members staffed various served agencies, including the Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army Canteen Truck One, the Santa Cruz County Harbor Coast Guard Auxiliary and a number of local fire departments. In addition to the served agencies, a number of hams provided remote observation of the coast line and communications capabilities at the evacuation centers.

The tsunami waves impacted the coast and did an estimated $15 million of damage to the Santa Cruz Harbor. More than 100 boats — including fishing vessels, pleasure boats and yachts — were either damaged or sunk as a result of the waves.

Conklin told the ARRL that Santa Cruz was not alone in receiving significant damage as a result of the powerful waves. “Crescent City, located approximately 500 miles north of Santa Cruz, also received heavy damage, causing Governor Brown to declare these areas disaster zones. One person died as a result of being swept out to sea with the high waves.”

In Northern Nevada, hams spent the weekend preparing to handle health and welfare messages in and out of Japan. In a joint exercise, Storey County and Washoe County ARES® members spent two days establishing communications protocol on HF, VHF and on Internet-based voice and data communications systems. According to ARRL Storey County Emergency Coordinator Tom Taormina, K5RC, this was the first time that many of the ARES® members used HF communications to operate in a joint exercise with neighboring counties and foreign countries.

Taormina said that more than a dozen Japanese hams were contacted, all of whom were outside the earthquake area. “We are now on standby, awaiting permission of the Japanese government to begin formal third party communications relays,” he said.

Radio Amateurs in Japan Provide Communications Support after Earthquake

03/15/2011

Since last week’s 8.9 earthquake and tsunami, Japan faces widespread destruction, including power, fuel and water shortages. The Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) HQ station JA1RL, along with other amateurs throughout the island nation, is maintaining the effort to support the disaster relief operation, according to IARU Region 3 Secretary Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP. “In less damaged areas, the electric power supply is being restored gradually and local amateurs have started to establish stations at shelters,” he said. The quake, whose epicenter was located off the coast of Sendai — a city of 1 million people — triggered a 40 foot tsunami.

Yamamoto said that JA1RL continues to operate as an emergency traffic center on 7.030 MHz, as well as 2 meters and 70 cm. It is receiving and reporting news from Japanese amateurs who are in the affected area. Using battery power or small generators, Japanese stations are active and are using various frequencies to exchange rescue and disaster relief operation information with JA1RL and others.

“While 3.525, 7.030, 7.043 and 7.075 MHz have been mentioned as in use, it’s wise to keep those — and all of the Center of Emergency frequencies — clear of normal and non-urgent traffic,” said IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Chairman Jim Linton, VK3PC, who added that there is no call for additional foreign radio amateurs in Japan.

Yamamoto said that information is being coordinated as part of an organized rescue and relief effort and seems likely to continue for weeks and months to come. Quoting local news sources, Yamamoto said that the situation in Japan is getting worse. On March 15, police announced that 2414 people have been killed — up from 1627 reported just 24 hours earlier — and 3118 are reported missing. Some 55,380 houses and buildings were damaged by the earthquake and 3000 houses washed away by the tsunami.

Rescue teams — from Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, China, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Russia — have arrived in Japan and have started their activities in the affected areas. In all, Yamamoto said that the Japanese government has received help from 91 nations and territories, as well as nine international organizations.

Yamamoto said that another worry in Japan is leakage of radioactive gasses at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

 

Become an Amateur Radio (HAM) Operator and provide communications in an emergency

I recently became an amateur radio operator (HAM) so that I could help out with communications during emergency or disaster.  One of the exciting things about amateur radio is that if your telephone (including cell phone) go down (and they probably will in an emergency) – the HAM radio will still be able to operate.  With an amateur radio license, you will be able to communicate with your family, friends and loved ones who are also HAM radio operators. With HAM radio, you can communicate via voice communication,  through other HAMS (they can relay a message for you), computer and or GPS technology.

With amateur radio, you are also able to talk with some of the NASA crew members on the International Space Station who are also HAM operators, you can learn about bouncing radio waves from your own radio off of the moon to talk to people up to 12,000 miles away and find out how to communicate using satellites.

Amateur radio involves amateur radio operators communicating locally and worldwide using store-bought or homemade radios, computers, satellites, and even the internet. Many amateur radio operators or “hams” serve as emergency communicators during the initial stages of emergencies and disasters. Amateur radio operators must be licensed and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands”. These amateur bands are reserved by the FCC for use by hams at intervals above the AM broadcast band into extremely high microwave frequencies.

There are no age restrictions to becoming a licensed operator.  I have met people who are 6 years old who are licensed.  If you’re interested in learning more or becoming licensed please feel free to contact me.  In addition you can look at the ARRL Website located here:  http://www.arrl.org/getting-licensed.

 

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.

 

Scott Rennie, DO

Twitter: http://twitter.com/doctorrennie

Personal Disaster Preparedness – An amateur radio operator’s thoughts…

Personal Disaster Preparedness

presented by John Covington, W4CC

This discussion has been presented at club meetings, civic groups and even over the Tarheel Emergency Net. As I mentioned then, the purpose of this discussion is to encourage you to think about how you should prepare for a disaster. There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for disaster preparedness. Consider some of the points mentioned below and decide what preparations are best for you.


What is Disaster Preparedness?

Disaster Preparedness means taking steps necessary to make sure you and your family are safe and as comfortable as possible in the aftermath of a disaster.

Main Types of Disasters

It’s not possible to prepare for every conceivable disaster, so think carefully about what hazards are most likely to affect you. These will vary greatly depending on exactly where you live.

  1. Natural – in North Carolina, hurricanes and winter weather are the most disruptive, but can usually be predicted a few days in advance. Flooding due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are not very predictable.
  2. Technological (man-made accidental) – radiological, chemical releases; fires. Not predictable, but many hazards are identifiable in advance.
  3. Terrorist (man-made – deliberate) radiological, chemical, explosions, etc. Not predictable.

Your Personal Preparations – Stay Put or Evacuate?

You need to consider both possibilities – sometimes the decision will be made by circumstances beyond your control. Staying put requires more preparation, but you retain your privacy. Evacuation places most of the burden of preparation on someone else. Evacuating to someone’s home is nice, but not always possible. If you evacuate to a disaster shelter, you will be dry, well-fed and have no privacy.

For disasters not requiring immediate evacuation, prepare for a 72-hour “stay put” scenario. 72 hours is long enough for the worst part of the disaster to pass, or for you to make a smart decision about what to do next if it hasn’t.

For disasters requiring immediate evacuation, have necessities (such as medicine) where you can get to them quickly. A ready kit is a good thing to have so you can be as self-sufficient as possible until you get established somewhere else.

Don’t wait too long to make the decision to evacuate. Many flood deaths in this state have resulted from people waiting too long, then their evacuation route disappears.

Consider carefully the psychological impact of a disaster on your family. Some people can just handle survival situations better than others. Even if your home is intact, evacuation may end up being the best thing to do.

Family Communications Plan

You and your family should plan how you will contact each other if you are not together when disaster strikes. Don’t rely exclusively on cellular telephones since they usually work intermittently following a disaster.

Your plan should include designating an emergency contact person who lives out of town. Sometimes a long-distance call is actually easier to make than a local call during a disaster. Someone out of town may be more easily able to communicate among separated family members.

Make sure each member of your family has the number of this emergency contact in writing.

Staying Put

Ask yourself if you can survive 72 hours in your home without utilities (electricity, gas, water, phone)? You will most likely lose electricity and telephone service during a disaster. Natural gas and city water usually continue to be available (but not well water).

  • Be prepared for both summer and winter weather since the survival conditions are very different.
  • Always store several gallons of drinking water. You need drinking water more than anything else except air! You can use dirty water to flush your toilets, but drinking water must be clean.
  • It is easy to test your preparedness for staying put (although your family may not think so). Turn the main circuit breaker off for a weekend and see how you do. If you can go the whole weekend without turning it back on, you are well prepared.
  • Some people use generators to provide electricity. If you do, make sure you know how to connect your generator so it is not connected to the electrical grid!
  • Natural gas or propane is usually available even after a disaster. Find out if you can use your gas appliances without any electricity. Gas stoves, water heaters and logs can probably be used without power, but ovens and furnaces usuallly can not.
  • Neither landline nor cellular phones will work dependably after disasters. For landlines, have at least one phone available that does not require separate electricity to use. For cellular, have a power cord that allows you to use or charge the phone from your car battery.
  • Have sufficient batteries on hand to power essential equipment, including flashlights and AM/FM/WX radios. The radios will be your source of news about the disaster, as well as entertainment.
  • Have sufficient light sources (flashlights, candles, cyalume sticks). Be careful with any source of ignition, such as candles.

Evacuation

If you must leave your home, make sure you have thought about what you need to take with you. For example, medicine will probably be hard to obtain after a disaster.

It’s best if you can take all essentials with you so you can be as self-sufficient as possible until you get established somewhere else. Depending on the type of disaster, evacuation might be a slow process, and stopping along the way for supplies won’t be possible. A 72-hour ready kit is the best way to make sure you have what you need, and is useful even if you stay put. You can make your own or purchase them already made (from suppliers such as www.nitro-pak.com). Ready-made kits are generic and will probably have a couple of items you don’t need and will be missing an item or two you do need.

Some other things you must consider about evacuating:

  • Have plenty of fuel in all of your vehicles — your preferred vehicle might end up being unavailable.
  • Have cash on hand. Credit cards and ATMs will not be useful while power is out.
  • Have a map of the area. Familiar routes can be blocked by floods and storm damage, so you may end up taking unfamiliar roads.
  • Find out — in advance — where disaster shelters in your community are established, and mark them on the map.
  • Having a plan for getting your family back together in case you are not able to evacuate together.
  • Establish a family communications plan. Designate someone outside the disaster area you will contact.

Items for a Basic 72-Hour Kit

This list is suggested by www.ready.gov and includes basic items you should have on hand for a disaster. Keep these items in a container that you can take with you if you need to evacuate, or locate them easily if you are staying put. This is not a “one size fits all” list, you should modify it to suit your circumstances. For example, you might want to add insect repellent and toothbrushes for personal comfort.

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers, and important family documents
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Conclusion

If you aren’t motivated to spend any time on disaster preparedness, at the bare minimum, do the following:

  • Talk to your family about this subject.
  • Keep sufficient drinking water on hand.
  • Write down important phone numbers.
  • Keep your cars at least half full of fuel.
  • Keep cash on hand.