Sunday, December 31, 2017

Section Emergency Coordinator's "Year-End Report - 2017"

Ohio ARES Year-End Report 2017
(December 24, 2017)

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) program was alive and well for 2017!  Several important steps were taken to help us certify to our agencies that we are trained and capable.

Here are the calculated results for our activity.
Please note that we for 2017 are including net sessions and net operating hours in with training/drills in order to give volunteers credit for their time spent in ARES activity.  This is increased our hours and events significantly.

Our emergency events were significantly down from last year, yet the number of hours was much higher.

Public service events and the hours required to cover them were about the same as last year.

                                                            2017                     2016                       Inc/Dec             
Training/Drill events 
(See note above)
Training hours

Public Service events
Public Service hours
Emergency events
( - 1288)
Emergency hours
( -2472)

Here are some highlights:

January:  Hamilton launched an informal Winlink net. Many counties participated in the ARES VHF Simplex contest. Knox distributed a new training manual.  In Marion, the ARES mobile tower was again erected downtown to support the New Year’s ball drop.  There were tabletops, WebEOC and NIMS training events all around.

February:  Work continued in Northwest Ohio where over 50 amateur rigs were purchased to place in regional hospitals.  There were actually thunderstorm related Skywarn activities. Coshocton operating manuals were updated.

March: The month entered with a bout of severe weather, several nets were active. There were many EMA drills and tabletops. Amateur radio shone again as a part of the medical team for the Arnold Classic in Columbus.

April: Our state conference was well attended.  Severe weather continued to present some spotty problems. Public service coverage started in northeast Ohio.   NVIS Day was a success!

May:  ARES covered the Flying Pig marathon. ARES was in the background to assist with MDT system failure in Cincinnati, as well as a high-profile retrial.  Most counties ramped up into a busy month of events.

June:  Runs, rides, GOBA, thunderstorms, and the Mohican 100-mile run were all parts of a very busy month. Crawford County hams got to watch some hot metal on a hot day for “Cruisin with the Cops” car show. Of course the big event was Field Day!

July:  More progress was reported on placing amateur radios in Northwest Ohio hospitals- permission was granted for the installation.  Hamilton County was activated for a search along the Ohio River. Tornadoes were reported in several Ohio counties. In Hocking County, ARES was called with their trailer after severe thunderstorm and winds severely damaged Murray City.  Comms were established and held until the state could put a portable MARCS truck in position. Terrain is everything!  Coshocton was activated for a threat.

August: Several were up and running for the eclipse; there was the typical array of storms and events. Summit was busy with the Goodyear marathon. The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame parade was one of our events.

September: Susan G Komen in Hancock County;  Green and others worked the US Air Force Marathon. The Akron marathon had 4500 runners.  Several groups operated Ohio Parks on the Air. Throughout fair season many groups provided comms and weather observations.

October:  “Black Swan 2017” was staged with many counties participating. Those which did activate were very busy, and operated longer periods than before.  Preble staged units for antique cars passed through the county’s many covered bridges.  Lake County dealt with 900 runners in the Northern Ohio Health marathon. Medina worked a “Home Depot Safety Day” setting up portable stations.

November:  Skywarn activities continued into November. Fairfield worked an “active shooter” session. Coshocton participated with the Board of Elections to monitor voting sites.  Lorain County worked elections as well.

December: (Reports are not filed yet)

Major developments in ARES for 2017
Overshadowing our year is the restructuring of Ohio ARES into a two-tiered system.  With continuing pressure from leadership for all members to complete the four NIMS courses (100. 200. 700. 800) our changes continue to welcome non-trained members yet provide an incentive for them to complete the courses. Tier One members (with NIMS) will be on the activation lists for working with served agencies. Tier Two (without the training) are welcomed to participate in public service events and training.  So far, well over 600 members have completed the four courses, according to our Ohio training database. Many thanks to Jim, W8ERW, for his hard work to keep this thing updated and under control!

We will be working over the winter season to create more training events and other opportunities for ARES members to successfully take these courses.

One important service of ARES is the state’s RACES amateur radio station at the Ohio EOC. “The Sarge” (W8SGT) has been installed in new space directly off the main EOC, with all new HF rigs and full power amplifiers! Another addition is a DMR radio, so we can make use of the Ohio Channel and regional clusters as emergencies dictate.

We made a few changes to the Ohio Section Emergency Response Plan to include the use of DMR radio if the conditions warrant.  We also confirmed the HF 75 meter frequency at 3902 +/-.

Ohio ARES has been an active participant in FEMA Region 5 preparations, participating as we can in a 60-meter net and numerous conference call meetings. This promotes a good regional operating environment and good communication with FEMA.