Monday, June 6, 2016

EmComm Around the World

Ham radio emergency communications is in the spotlight in widely scattered parts of the globe this month. Massive flooding in southeastern Texas resulted in the activation of ARES (the Amateur Radio Emergency Service) in and around Houston in late May and early June. At press time, the hams were providing "situational awareness" of changing conditions in different locations, according to the ARRL, but the situation was still unfolding.

In early May, a California ham monitoring the Maritime Mobile Service Net frequency (14.300 MHz) long after the net closed for the day picked up a distress signal from a sailing vessel that had run aground on a reef in the South Pacific near French Polynesia and was taking on water. The situation was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard, which in turn notified the French Navy, which rescued the crew safely. According to the ARRL Letter, the Coast Guard later said the hams' prompt action probably saved the crew from "devastating consequences."

Moving well above sea level, Newsline reports that some two dozen mountaineers in India have gotten ham licenses in order to enhance climber safety, call for emergency rescues and, if necessary, help with searches in the Himalayas. The newly-licensed ham-mountaineers will carry portable HF radios and antennas in their backpacks, as well as transmitters that automatically position information to their base camps for tracking. The training was coordinated by the West Bengal Radio Club.