Friday, December 14, 2018

Hams on Both U.S. Coasts Provide Emergency Assistance

The ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) provided significant communications support during last fall's California wildfires, and members of the Maritime Mobile Service Net helped coordinate a medical evacuation of a sailor in the Atlantic Ocean.
The ARRL Letter reports that ARES members in California were called up to provide communications between evacuation shelters and the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center during the November "Camp Fire" which destroyed the town of Paradise and was responsible for dozens of deaths. During the "Woolsey Fire" in Los Angeles County, hams working with the Sheriff's Department and Fire Department provided backup communications and shelter support as well as conducting fire patrols and bringing food and water to firefighters in the field.

A continent away, when a crew member on a sailing vessel 300 miles east of Bermuda suffered chest pains, the captain (a ham) put out a call for help on the Maritime Mobile Service Net.  A net member in Florida set up a phone patch with the Coast Guard in Norfolk, Virginia, which coordinated a rendezvous with a Coast Guard cutter, followed by a helicopter evacuation for medical care on shore. The hams helped provide a constant link, including relays as needed when propagation changed. According to the Coast Guard's search-and-rescue coordinator for the incident, the ham radio assistance "was crucial in helping to communicate with the vessel's crew."