The purpose of this blog is to keep BC ARES members up to date on what I, Sam Henley (KEØLMY), am doing as the EC to promote our group, secure affiliations we can count on during emergencies in our county, and gain more experience/training to serve you as well as I can.
April 18, 2018
It’s not often I get to be the source of a communication malfunction, but that’s exactly where I found myself this morning.
At 4 AM, I heard an enormous, loud thud outside of the east side of our house. I had no idea what it was and my sleep-addled mind thought, “Hey, there’s nothing on that side of the house, so you must be imagining things!” I promptly went back to sleep.
At 8 AM, when I got up to check in on WAARCI’s Upright and Still Breathing (USB) Net, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t hear anything on the 146.880. I keyed the mic to id and suddenly I could hear people talking. That was my first indication something was wrong.
My second indication came minutes later. As I tried to check in, Cary Altman (KB0HV) couldn’t hear me. I popped onto Facebook and messaged Cary to let him know I pulled up Broadcastify to listen online.
Meanwhile, Roger (KD0WXT) was opening our bedroom curtains and informing me that our 40′ tower was on the ground. WHHHHHAAAAATTTTTT?????? That’s right, the wind was gusting so hard on the farm here in Edwards, MO, that it knocked down a 40′ metal tower. The tower has been up in its place for four years with no problems until now.
Roger quickly switched me over to the old antenna we had up on the roof of the house to try and get me on the air and functioning for the 9:30 AM Region A Healthcare Net, to no avail. Conditions didn’t allow me to be heard well enough to run a net.
This is where the story gets exciting!
Cary (KB0HV) jumped into action to arrange another Net Control Operator with only a slight delay! The Net Control Operator was none other than Johnson County’s own EMD, Troy Armstrong (KE0OAU)! I had JUST seen Troy the morning before at the Region A Healthcare meeting and neither of us had any idea that we would soon be in the middle of a communication mess!
Troy sounded like an old pro running the net and you would NEVER have been able to tell it was his very first time as Net Control. He worked easily and smoothly through the script, took checkins, and moved the net along in a professional, effective manner! I was listening in and I was amazed at how proficient he was stepping into a new, unknown situation.
Many people have asked what a Blue-Sky Partnership is. It’s a term I heard coined at the 2017 Show-Me Partnership Conference. It means that when there are no problems or emergencies, THAT is the time to get out and meet people, shake hands, trade business cards, learn faces, and create mutual aid/understanding agreements. “The time to trade business cards is not over a smoking hole in the ground.”
The BC ARES, SPARK, and WAARCI have such an arrangement. As we reach out to participate in their nets, hamfests, activities (like Winter Field Day), and more, we are creating one of these Blue-Sky Partnerships. In this case, Cary and Troy came to our rescue to run the Region A Healthcare net when Mother Nature took her toll on my equipment.
Situations like these are why you will see me, the AECs, other members of the BC ARES and more, working so hard to reach out and take part in other area nets like the ones listed on our nets tab. We also try to make it to other face-to-face events like hamfests, regional meetings, and club meetings to get our group out there. We want to be there to help our partners if they find themselves in need of our assistance during equipment malfunctions and emergency situations. I encourage our members to make that effort to check in on area nets, reach out to other Hams in the area, and help us create these wonderful Blue-Sky Partnerships here in our county and region!
March 30, 2018
As promised, I have my articles on my CERT training experiences, as well as my CPR/AED/First Aid training! I’ll post them here so you can read them at your leisure!
Our fellow member, Kelly Stanfield (WØYQG), recently became a member of the BC MO CERT! Marie (CERT Coordinator) and Mark (BC MO EMD) are already discussing her role in communications for the BC MO CERT! We are very excited to incorporate methods learned in ARES into the communications sector of CERT!
March 11, 2018
Hello, ladies and gents!
Our March meeting summary has been posted here.
I am continuing my FEMA and CERT training. This month should mark the end of my CERT training (FINALLY!) which was extended a few times due to inclement weather.
Here is the ARES Letter of Introduction pdf which will be going out to ham radio operators in our county to encourage them to come out and attend a meeting with our group.
Just a reminder, after our BC ARES nets on Sunday nights, we have a roundtable where we can “ragchew” and talk about anything of interest in our lives! Thank you to everyone who has participated and I hope to continue this tradition for years to come!
February 26, 2018
February has been an extremely active month for myself, as well as other members of the group! We’ve had new group members, new net controllers, storm spotter training, “Getting Comfortable Speaking on the Radio” training, CERT training, FEMA courses, planning for the upcoming Summer Field Day event, and so much more! Let’s get started!
I would like to welcome W0OES, KE0FNI, KE0FNJ, and KE0FNM to our group! We are very excited to give them a fun, welcoming place to grow and learn or even learn from them! Everyone brings their unique experience with them when they join the group and we can’t wait to see what fresh and interesting ideas our new members provide! We would like to continue adding members to expand our contacts in the ham radio world. As you know from previous meetings and postings here on the website, we have materials designed to reach out to hams in the area and that campaign will begin after the March meeting!
Serving as net control for an ARES net can be VERY intimidating. For some, even keying the mic can be a frightening prospect. We would like to thank our two new net control stations, W0YQG and KE0LMZ, for taking a chance and running nets! Both ladies did a fantastic job and we look forward to hearing them as net control again!
I covered the Tactical Storm Spotter training earlier this month in a blog post here. It was an honor to be invited, as an amateur radio operator, to this training because we had a taste of what it’s like for our first responders dealing with how to report severe weather so the dispatchers could quickly and concisely relay the information to the National Weather Service. Knowing something as simple as whether trees were uprooted or snapped in half relays drastically different messages! There are two recommended online courses for SKYWARN training (the link is at the bottom of our training page) and then attending an in-seat class finalizes your ability to serve as a Storm Spotter. Out here in rural areas like ours, it is extremely important for hams to get involved, as severe weather can damage or destroy other means of communication. I encourage anyone who is interested (whether you are a ham or not) to take this training and become a Storm Spotter. There is an organized group here in the ozarks called the Lake Area Storm Spotters Storm Team. Their FB page can be found here. They are great volunteers who are well-trained, organized, efficient, and helpful!
One of the projects we’ve undertaken in recent months has been to form a training class called, “Getting Comfortable Speaking on the Radio” for the Region A Healthcare coalition. That blog post can be found here. With the help of a few members of the BC ARES, I created this class based on my own timid start into the ham radio world. I knew how nervous I was to pick up the mic the first few times. My heart STILL beats fast when I do, even to this day! We took the time to review the Region A Healthcare script, as well as the script for how and what the operators should say to report into the net. We also ended up covering radiograms (and ICS 213s) because if passing traffic became a necessary ability (not just a practice net every month, but actual emergency communications), they needed to know how to do so accurately. I want to take a moment to thank Linda, Tammy, and Barry from the Benton County Health Department for attending the training, asking great questions, and providing feedback. Without their participation, the Beta Test of the training program would not have been possible!
As I continue to work on CERT training, FEMA courses, and SKYWARN courses, I want to let you all know how thankful I am to those of you who have forwarded me your FEMA course certificates this month. You are volunteering your time from your often extremely busy lives to make sure you have the necessary training to serve as helpful, useful members of ARES. I am grateful to you all for your interaction, opinions, contributions, and efforts!
We have three meetings to go before Summer Field Day occurs this year! Time is passing so quickly, I can hardly believe the whirlwind! As you may know, we have set up a page here about the event. We are partnered with WAARCI and SPARK to take part at their site up near Woods in Warrensburg as part of our efforts to build relationships with other radio clubs and amateurs in surrounding areas. I have also received a strong push to have a group of BC ARES members operate from here in our county that day as well. If we have a good number of volunteers for the event, we may be able to do both! We’ll tackle that topic at the March meeting and see what happens.
February 6, 2018
Though the weather may keep our second meeting for 2018 very small or keep it from happening at all, I want to give you an update on the development of our very first Tabletop Training Scenario.
The first stage of development was to form the general outline. This included an overview paragraph of the situation to be addressed which, in this case, was an ice/snowstorm scenario. Also included were a complication list, setup and operation questions, and a suggestions section.
The next stage of development is the addition of types and examples of traffic passed during the scenario. So far, we have added two sections; Shelter Messages and EOC Messages. An updated version of the PDF has been uploaded here. If you have more recommendations, feel free to contact us.
I am in the middle of taking the FEMA IS-120 An Introduction to Exercises. As I continue this training (followed by the IS-130), I will add to and update the PDF. My goal is to build at least six scenarios for our group to expand our skills.
I look forward to a time when we have the ability to gather a large number of our members together to begin running these scenarios. My goal is to draw on the experience our members bring to the table from their own life experiences. Our unique experiences make for a well-rounded group!
February 1, 2018
I have so many experiences to talk with you about that I may have to break it into separate posts! As most of you are aware, I have been enrolled in CERT training with the Camden County, MO CERT training class. Five of the above pictures were taken by Eric Hoover, who runs the Camden CoMo CERT Team. He is funny, driven, outgoing, and capable. He knows his “job” and he wants to help his team be the best it can be when an emergency arises. I have also met his wife and co-leader/co-trainer, Brittany, and she is an amazing woman! They both work for the Camden County school district.
This past Monday, Bruce and I were trained on extinguishing small fires. I was impressed by Ron Gentry from the word go. He is the Emergency Management Director for Camden County. He is a retired Fire Chief, among a handful of other qualifications! He balances his no-nonsense approach to teaching with a healthy dose of common sense and a great sense of humor! The Camden County, MO CERT Facebook page has a video posted on our first try at the mock “small fire” scenario here. Thank you to the people who congratulated me and offered feedback! I felt it went very well. I can’t wait to do a true small fire exercise!
Next up, Winter Field Days! Okay, I have to tell you, I was SO excited to do my first field day at a location other than the ham cave! Roger offered to set me up in the middle of our farm with my radio, antenna, generator, and computer and let me go to it, but I nixed that idea REALLY quickly!
A few months ago, when we added the information for Winter Field Days to the website, Cary Altman (KB0HV) and WAARCI invited us to come up to their new tower site at Holden, MO. We were excited to do something with the group, so we made the hour and a half trip up there. It was fairly easy to find and I didn’t get more than ten feet from the Durango before I was meeting club members! Not only did the club members welcome Roger and me, they also made my son, Alex, feel welcome and put him right to work helping set up equipment and carry stuff to different areas. They also talked him into going back to studying for his Tech license again!
Despite everything you read, there’s a LOT more to Field Days than setting up your radio and talking. We had tons of visitors who were there to see the new tower site, check out the equipment, and visit with friends. We even had a visit from the local superstar, Rick Ebbeson, who was named the 2017 Volunteer of the Year back at the 2017 Show-Me Partnership Conference (D’OH, I still owe you all a run down on that, too!). Sometimes, when I get to meet people in person which I have been listening to on the radio for years, I get a little starstruck! I was VERY excited to also meet a regular to the Region A Healthcare net, Jack (N0SAX)! Truly, there’s no way I could remember every single name and face I saw on Saturday, but I was so thrilled to meet you all and hope to do more with you in the future!
One of the neatest things I got to use that day was this little contraption Cary made. It allowed us to plug in two sets of earbuds to one radio, so Terry (the operator) and I (the logger) could both listen to our potential contacts.
On Sunday, I drove back up there with Alex. I think the guys were happy that Alex and I brought donuts with us when we went up Sunday! After donuts, Cary put me on the radio. I alternated between calling CQ on 14.280 and searching around for contacts on the band. We managed a few contacts before the time ended at 1 PM local time.
I am very excited that Cary and the members of WAARCI invited the BC ARES up for Summer Field Day. I would love to have a good number of our members up there! I think it would be a great group exercise and fantastic for outreach to groups in surrounding areas. I, of course, wouldn’t mind a little healthy competition, too!
January 25, 2018
As I’m sure many of you already know, I began my CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training this past Monday. I find it absolutely fascinating! Communications is such a huge part of what CERT does, that I daresay it is one of the cornerstones!
I have a list of great instructors who participate in the Camden County, MO CERT training and I would like to take a moment to thank them for what they do.
Ed Nicholson, Ron Gentry, Brittany Hoover, Eric Hoover, Dan Malloy, Lori Favilla, and Bob Hayes are among those responsible for providing the Basic Training to go along with the required FEMA online courses for the CERT program.
So far, I have met Ed, Eric, and Dan. They are all very knowledgeable, well-spoken, and very helpful. They make the class fun and informative.
Bruce and I are the only ones in the current class, though I suspect this is due to weather and illness within the community. He and I had a challenge the moment the class started. We were told to take a couple of pieces of cardboard, construction paper, scotch tape, and scissors and build a five-foot-tall, freestanding tower in five minutes. No other instructions. I figured it was a test of our ability to show the maximum utilization of available resources. (Credit for that saying goes to KDØWXT!) We were successful and when we analyzed the point of the exercise, it was to teach us to use available resources on-site, work with unfamiliar people, and complete challenges in a short timeframe.
We were given an outline of the course and we were assigned homework!
As usual, I will keep you updated on the class, my progress, and my activities, especially with how they coincide with communications and ARES in particular!
January 10, 2018
Just had to share the news! As many of you know, I have been enrolled in the ARRL EC-001 course which began at the end of November. I just took my final assessment today and scored a 94%!
While no amount of bookwork or paper can take the place of field experience, I feel more secure with both my role in our group and in any emergency situations that could arise in our area. This course also showed me the positions we need to fill and the different areas we need to work on and put in place to be a strong ARES group.
I look forward to speaking with many of you who want to take on more active roles at the upcoming meeting! Thank you all for your continued participation and support!
December 21, 2017
I figured if I held off for just a little while on my blog about the conference, the slideshows for the keynotes and breakouts would be posted online. Good news! I have been emailed a link to them! Now you won’t have to sit through pictures of slides taken from my phone!
I attended all of the Keynote Speeches and I was also able to attend four of the breakouts. I was blown away by some of the presentations, especially when the focus was turned back to the volunteers who worked tirelessly in emergencies here in our own state.
Here is the list of the presentations I attended:
As the Waters Rose – Eureka’s CERT Members Did As Well
Being A Great Team Leader
From First Response to Long-Term Recovery Partnerships to Increase Efficacy of Response
Good Samaritan Law Overview
Managing Spontaneous Volunteers
NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors
Operation Community Recovery Exercise
Self & Team Care Before & After Deployment
Successes and Challenges with Harvey, Irma, and Maria
The Proper Tool Is Everything – Using and Evaluating Affordable Social Media Tools
WebEOC Training for Volunteers
Closing Remarks – Together We Do Better
As you can see, it was a VERY busy two-day conference, which is why I thought I would split it up into several posts. I intend to touch on a few of these things in-depth because I feel that they apply to us as a group or as individuals, so you can look forward to more information on those from my personal notes.
P.S. Here are a few of the people I met at the conference:
December 11, 2017
This month has been so busy for us and it continues with even more training for me! As I learn more and more about what it means to be the EC and how to fulfill my obligations properly, I want to keep you all updated, too.
By now you know I am working on the ARRL EC-001 course for Emergency Communications. I will try to keep you all updated on what I learn, but you are welcome to also complete the training. So far, it has included information about properly passing messages in emergency situations and within that has been information on properly running our Sunday night ARES net. I have taken screenshots so everyone can see some of the information. Some of our members have asked me about different things which actually come up in this training. I found out that I have some bad habits and will be correcting myself accordingly. Let me show you what I mean:
I also thought the following were extremely important:
I hope this helps to clear up some questions you may have and provides more information for those (including myself) who have not yet been in an emergency situation!
I will be posting later this week about my experience at the Safety Symposium I am attending on Tuesday and Wednesday!
November 29, 2017
I am sitting down to fill our my monthly paperwork for the first time. As I am doing this, I am seeing just how active our members are in the group. From all of our members who check in on our weekly ARES nets to meetings to FEMA and Skywarn training to running the website, we have pulled together for an astounding 154 hours of BC ARES activity this month!
I am amazed and humbled by all of you who rise to the occasion, pitch in to help and make an effort to spend some of your time each month to make our group great!
I can’t thank you all enough for the support and assistance you have given me as I learn my position as well. So many of you have answered my questions, made recommendations, offered your help, and taught me many things I didn’t even know until this month! I have not had a single negative interaction and I am grateful for that favor.
In short, November was busy but December will be even more jam-packed with BC ARES activities. I began the EC-001 course this week and it will take 9 weeks to complete. At the end of that time, I intend to let you all know about my experience!
Can’t wait to share all of the events coming up in December with you!
November 21, 2017
The last ten days have been VERY busy for me! I have made many contacts with area nets and hams, attended the Region A Healthcare meeting and volunteered to put together mini-training sessions with the area hospitals, health departments and other facilities to help their radio users become more familiar with and more comfortable using their amateur radios! I have also started to prepare for the December meeting. KE0LMZ and I have many fun, Christmas themed things planned! In my “spare” time, I have been studying for my extra license.
First up, I have been emailing, checking in on area nets and otherwise reaching out to various amateur radio clubs and organizations in the area. As we gain more affiliates, our network and community grow larger. The main principle of ARES is to be there in times of emergency to provide communication support for people in need. I feel that to do this, I should be out there, visible and accessible to those in our group, community and beyond!
This leads me to the second item. I was graciously invited by KD0CNC to attend the Region A Healthcare meeting which took place this morning. I was able to learn SO much. I now know names and faces of quite a few of our area Emergency Managers, healthcare organization staff and more! They all seemed very motivated to work with the amateur radio community to strengthen their ties to us and learn more about us. I have a few things in the works and as soon as they are set in stone, I will roll them out to our fantastic ARES members!
Finally, KE0LMZ and I have been working hard on plans for our “Christmas” meeting. We would love for as many members of the group to attend as possible because we would like to take a group picture at the December 9th meeting. Please wear a white shirt! Don’t worry if you can’t attend, as I will list our members not appearing in the photo on the page as well.
I want to thank Cary Altman. Along with my independent study for my Extra Class license, I have gone almost daily to see the “Extra question of the day” on his group’s Facebook page: WAARCI, Inc FB Page. This kind of outreach to the community is priceless and his efforts are greatly appreciated!
That’s all for now! I’ll be back with more news from the EC front in a week or two!
Meet Foxtrot, the new BC ARES group mascot! He is already doing a great job guarding the BC ARES members’ Christmas gifts!
November 11, 2017
This blog will be a bit different. I had the honor of presenting Rick Wade (KD0CNC) with a plaque today. This commemorative plaque was to thank him for his years of service as the Emergency Coordinator of the Benton County, MO ARES. Below you will find the speech I gave when presenting him with his plaque. I hope it conveys the kind of persistent, loyal, supportive person Rick is and I am thankful I could share it with you.
“I remember the first time I met Rick. Roger (KD0WXT) took me to the Lebanon Hamfest a few years ago. At that time, I had no interest in Amateur Radio. I hadn’t even heard of it. I was convinced I would be fine with my computer and cell phone.
Eventually, I attended a couple of ARES meetings with Roger and Rick continued to sell me on the idea of becoming a ham.
I turned studying for my tech license into a homeschool class and Renee (my daughter) and I were licensed on the same day in December 2016.
In the following months, Rick and the ARES group taught me to build a Dipole antenna and a J pole antenna. They taught me to properly hook up radios. They made me feel welcome and and never treated me like I was “just a woman”, which is something I appreciated.
Rick continues to challenge me so I can better myself.
Thank you so much, Rick, for all of your efforts!”
And at the very same meeting, Rick presented me with my EC certificate. I appreciated his touching words and good humor!
November 8, 2017
I have had a busy week! I am in the middle of reading the entire EC Manual, so I have a well-rounded idea of where to begin my journey as your EC! I am particularly looking forward to running drills and I will be talking to the ARES members at the upcoming meeting to find out who has taken part in drills in the past and can help me set up and run them in the future.
I recently completed the following FEMA training: ICS 100, 200, 700 and 800. I intend to take quite a few more which have been recommended by members of other ARES groups. I have signed up to take the 9 week EC course with the ARRL and that begins at the end of November.
I have been checking into quite a few other 2m nets in the area to promote unity and cooperation between our groups. Any nets I check in on, I will also list on our Nets page so you can participate, too, if you wish. Two of these nets happened this morning. I ran the Region A Healthcare Net at 9 am on the Warrensburg repeater which reaches out to amateur radio operators (hopefully some in healthcare facilities) and at 10 am I checked into the Camden County Emergency Net on the Lake of the Ozarks repeater. Part of my goal is to spread the word about these nets and encourage as many hams as possible to participate.
Along the lines of promoting unity and cooperation, I am reaching out to area groups/clubs to ask them to become affiliates. We can all help and learn from each other!
I have reached out to Mike Bellinger about attending one of our meetings and though he is very busy, I hope to have him attend one soon!
My intention in the near future is to reach out to the Sheriff’s Department, Police Department, Fire Department and the Emergency Managers of Warsaw, Lincoln and Cole Camp to offer our assistance and cooperation with training and practices they may hold.
I welcome any and all ideas which you have for making the BC ARES inviting, fun and effective! I look forward to speaking with all of you!