Amateur Radio Emergency Service history and organization.
Amateur radio provides a means of communication when all other forms fail or are limited during times of emergencies or disasters. Amateur radio operators belonging to The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) have responded to local and regional disasters since the 1970s, more recently including the Shuttle Columbia Recovery and Hurricanes Lili, Katrina, Rita and Ike. Through the local ARES® organization, amateur radio operators are trained to use their skills to help the served agencies provide information that needs to be passed quickly, efficiently and accurately.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®)is a program (and registered trademark) of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL)2. Individual ARES®units are autonomous and are locally operated. They consist of FCC licensed operators who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for the common purpose of providing emergency and/or auxiliary communications service to public safety and public service organizations.
Groups are organized locally by the person holding the position of Emergency Coordinator (EC). The EC maintains full responsibility for organizing the local groups and serving as their leader during operations. The EC is an ARRL member, and is generally the point of contact for those wishing to perform Emergency Communications in their local area. He/She may appoint one or several AEC’s (Assistant Emergency Coordinators) to oversee certain geographical areas, or he/she may appoint by function such as Net Managing, Training Direction, or Public Information, or maybe a mix of the above (i.e. whatever works locally).
The next higher level of coordination is the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC). This person coordinates the operation of several local county or city ARES®groups and reports to the Section Emergency Coordinator.
The Angelina County group of ARES® is affiliated with the Deep East Texas Amateur Radio Club, Inc. Our current roster consists of licensed operators from Lufkin and the surrounding cities and communities of Angelina County.
We currently serve the following local agencies:
- DPS Sub-2B District Disaster Committee & RLO
- City of Lufkin and their Emergency Operations Center
- American Red Cross – Lufkin Chapter
- Deep East Texas RAC Area H (12 Area Hospitals & Health District Office)
- Evacuee Shelter Operations at local churches and schools
- K9 Search and Rescue Teams – Hudson Fire Department
- Texas Task Force, Communications Coordination Group, Austin
- Chamber of Commerce – Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Angelina County Emergency Management – County Judge and
the Emergency Management Coordinator
Previous Activities Examples
Shuttle Columbia Recovery 2003 – Over 80 Amateur Radio Operators from the surrounding area and across Texas responded to the call to assist by providing communications in the search operation. Amateur Radio operators provided communications links between the area Operations Center and the various teams in the search area. Many of the participants not only served over several days, but some traveled back to help during the second week of operations.
Hurricane IKE 2008 – A 34 hour continuous communications network was implemented with over 24 operators at locations which included the City of Lufkin Emergency Operations Center, Lufkin DPS office, Evacuee Registration Hub, American Red Cross, both Lufkin hospitals and nine church shelters. Weather information was relayed from NWS and the DPS office. Critical logistical and medical related traffic was passed between shelters and shelter services. A connection was established for the DPS office and the Texas State Operations Center – Austin via Amateur Radio operators and Winlink (radio email) networks while the DPS telephone systems were down.
Many hours were contributed to shelter operations and other communications needs during Lili, Katrina, Rita, and several close calls with hurricanes such as Gilbert, Wilma, and Tropical Storm Allison, etc.
Resources and Training
Permanent radio installations are maintained at the Lufkin EOC, American Red Cross, Angelina County & Cities Health District, Memorial Medical Center and Woodland Heights Hospitals, as well as several church shelter sites.
Typical installations at these sites include:
- Icom 2720-H Radio
- KPC3+ TNC
- MFJ-4125 Power Supply
- Power and Interface cables to connect radio and TNC to power, TNC to radio, and TNC to computer
Angelina County ARES® also maintains two “go-kits” which include complete
HF / VHF / UHF stations, including Winlink capabilities.
Repeater and Other Communications System Resources
DETARC, Inc. operates and maintains a Motorola 2 Meter 100 watt repeater system which is located at a 480 foot antenna tower site with redundant power sources. This repeater with other linked East Texas repeaters allows for coverage over multiple East Texas Counties.
In addition to the 2 Meter repeater, the Club also operates a Motorola UHF repeater with an antenna at the 85 foot level. This repeater provides less coverage but provides an alternate frequency for local communications.
The Saltgrass Link System is an Amateur (Ham) Radio linked repeater system providing reliable and dependable communications to the South Texas region. Classified as a Disaster Radio Network by the State of Texas, in the event of an emergency the Saltgrass Link System is available for exclusive use by the State of Texas and any served agencies in and for the affected area.
DETARC, Inc. operates two Winlink RMS Packet Nodes3 providing email services for emergency communications via Ham Radio. This is very advantageous during times of localized internet outages. These systems provide backup email service into and out of the local area. It provides coverage to all adjacent counties to Angelina.
The State of Texas maintains a permanent radio installation at the State Operations Center (SOC) in Austin which monitors the Texas Emergency HF networks and Winlink systems connecting locations such as Lufkin and Angelina County to critical state-wide resources.
ARES® volunteer operators are encouraged to utilize NIMS4 training including IS 100 and IS 200, among others. They are to be familiar with ICS form 213 for passing information, requests and replies. Weekly Nets are used to hone operator skills and provide continuous training.
Monthly Nets are held utilizing our linked repeater systems to provide communications in a 9 county area surrounding Angelina County.
Operators also participate in local simulated events (such as HURREX and others) with served agencies to maintain a working relationship and an understanding of area resources and needs.
Angelina county Ham Radio operators have been involved in local emergency communications since 1978.