Events, Exercises and Etcetera

Madison Amateurs - Doing what is needed when Needed

Events, Exercises and Etcetera

3 days ago by WA1TCC

The Madison County ARES group participates in several activities to sharpen our skills and hone our equipment. We do random field testing on communications efficiency of various locations in Madison County and test the quality of our transmissions with our current equipment. We also participate in local and regional simulated emergency exercises concerning different disasters such as Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Natural and Man made disasters and accidents. This can involve the local region, county wide, state wide or national participation depending on the scenario. Many of our local Amateurs have assisted in the past and are continuously training for the future.

Upcoming Events River Run
 A trip up the Withlacoochee to test radio connectivity back to Madison and our repeaters.

River Connections
Test to check points on roads where connectivity to Madison and our repeaters are enhanced. This will allow us to have standard relay locations established before an emergency.

Our Outside Connections
A test from each corner of Madison County to test connectivity to our neighboring Amateurs. This will allow us to establish the connectivity in our radios before an emergency.

Simplex Testing
This is done on a regular basis to establish the use of the bands and the connectivity to each of the ARES members and establish locations where the best connectivity can be had when no repeaters are available.

November 19, 2015
Madison County Emergency Management hosted a meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2015 between local Ham radio operators and Strait Hollis, the North Florida Section Emergency Coordinator. Mr. Hollis lives in Eustis, Florida and has the responsibility to coordinate amateur radio emergency communications for forty-three counties from Orlando to Jacksonville to Pensacola. He is new in this position and wanted to visit with members of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) as he traveled to Jackson County.

At the Emergency Operations Center in Madison, Strait was able to discuss his vision of how amateur radio operators can help in times of disaster when ordinary communications are either out of service or overloaded. He encouraged the local ARES group to build positive relationships with like groups in adjacent counties and provide public service communications to test the ability to communicate under various conditions. He said "all emergencies are local" and radio operators need to have a response plan that is tested on a regular basis.

Alan Whigham, Madison County Emergency Manager, works closely with the local Ham radio operators and considers them an asset to the Madison community.

Photo: Left to right: Carter KJ4JIG, Suwannee County CERT Dan, W1JXG, Madison County ARES Pat, K4NRD, Madison County Emergency Coordinator for ARES Strait, KT4YA, North Florida Section Emergency Coordinator for ARES Sarah, KD4SMA, Madison County ARES Alan, KI4IFH, Madison County Emergency Manager Jim, W4FAO, Madison County ARES Bob, WA1TCC, Madison County ARES Not Pictured: Junior, KC4VPJ,

Madison County ARES
Nov 8-10 2015 MARS Stimulated Coronal Ejection Test

Madison Amateur Radio Club was proud to serve as a North Florida connection with the Military Auxiliary Radio Service ( MARS) in the first of quarterly tests to connect the Amateur community to the Military community to assist in the event of an emergency. Our Sunday night net was set as a sign in for the test and a relay was made to our MARS contact Ron Downes KK4DWE . We will continue to work with MARS in these exercises to provide emergency services to Madison County.

October 10, 2015 Capital District Simplex test All bands

This exercise started in the morning with stations going mobile with HT and Mobile units in various locations in the Tallahassee area to test the capability of using simplex connections in the event that repeaters were unavailable. Madison members also decided to support the test with many other Amateurs located in the surrounding counties. Our first tests were with 2 meters which provided great information on the coverage with communications from Madison being received throughout the area. We found that simplex would be operable in a relay between Madison and the other counties. After testing extensively on the 2 meter band the testing provided results from bands up to 160 meters with mixed results. We do have much information for North Florida with the connectivity tested daily on the 3950 and 7242 nets morning and nightly. Madison will continue to test simplex through the year on the 2 meter and 70 cm bands and map out our results and document for an emergency use.

October 3, 2015 I was there but I don't remember what I did. Old age wins again!

August 22, 2015 Madison Fire Services Test
Pat K4NRD and Jr participated in this event which tested connectivity between the fire stations in Madison County on 154.400 151.4375 The fire departments used simplex to test connectivity when the repeaters are down.

May 30 Capital District Emergency Hurricane Test

May 20 Florida State Emergency Test
20 Meters - 14.305 70 Cm - Sarnet

May 19, 2015 Madison Security Expo
The Madison Amateur Radio Club under our ARES duties manned a table at the annual security expo. This has become an annual event to teach the community about the available services for Madison County in any emergency and to provide resources and information for any future emergencies. ARES will provide emergency communications for any event or emergency in the county and we displayed some of the equipment we would use for emergency communications and provided copies of ARES support literature and past issues of QST magazine. We anticipate this event growing each year and are looking forward to next years event.

Exercises: May 21, 2005: Red Cross Hurricane Drill.

May 13, 2006: Madison County Simplex communications drill.

June 3, 2006: Red Cross Hurricane Drill.

April 17, 2007: Local Hospital Drill

April 28, 2007: Madison 5K Run

May 12, 2007: Red Cross Hurricane Drill

 March 15, 2008: Madison County Simplex Test

Jan 4, 2007: Local Communications Emergency: written up in QST May 2007.

March 2006: Sponsored a General Class Study Group that lasted several weeks.

April 2006: Photo ARES ID Cards for all members.

Nov 2006: Skywarn Weather Spotter Training for all ARES members by NWS. Most members have their NIMS 100, 200, 700 and 800 certificates.

Remainder of 2008: Developed an exercise with Suwannee County and Columbia County ARES for a simplex exercise from county EOC's. Developed a similar exercise with Brooks County and Lowndes County Georgia.

Participated in the Capital District and Red Cross Hurricane exercises.
WHAT IS A SET? (Simulated Emergency Test) To give an example of such an exercise, this is one of such an exercise: “PLANE DOWN, SEARCHERS NEEDED!”


OCTOBER 3, 2009  Madison County, Florida ARES Emergency Coordinator Patrick Lightcap, K4NRD, was notified by Georgia Section Emergency Coordinator Mike Brown, KE4FGF, that South Georgia Airlines Flight 1003 overshot it's landing at the Valdosta Municipal Airport and is considered down some where in South Georgia or North Florida. The aircraft is a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 with crew and passengers totaling 42. The ELT beacon is functioning and the FAA requests assistance in locating the crash site. This was the challenge facing Amateur Operators in a very rural area of North Florida between Lake City and Tallahassee north of I-10. This was the scenario for the Simulated Emergency Test that was designed by Georgia officials with the goal of erasing the State line and practicing cooperative emergency communications by two states.

The notification came at 8:34 AM and the first signal from the ELT was detected at 8:39 AM on 147.420 MHz. K4NRD contacted Madison County ARES members KI4IFD, KJ4AOU, KC4VPJ, W4GNA and KD4EKS (AEC). KI4TRR the EC in Suwannee County, Florida just to the east of Madison County gave a signal strength report on the ELT from his location. That information coupled with the beam heading from KC4VPJ showed the crash site possibly in the northeast quadrant of Madison County, Florida or the southwest quadrant of Lowndes County, Georgia.

W4GNA was asked to coordinate the search for the crash site on 146.550 MHz while K4NRD went on the 9:00 AM North Florida AREC Net on 3.950 MHz requesting assistance from stations where major hospitals are located. Telephone service out of Madison County was not possible because of a compromised fiber optic cable. North Florida Section Emergency Coordinator W2DWR who happened to be Net Control for the AREC Net sent available stations to 3.955 MHz where K4NRD became net control for the SET exercise.

Simultaneous Holt (Okaloosa) Florida nets on 146.550 and 3.955 resulted in the following stations assisting:

 Jacksonville (Duval) Florida: W4BXT (acted as asset net control).
 Gainesville (Alachua) Florida: N4AYS, KG4LQK.
Lake City (Columbia) Florida: WA5RKR, KE4BQI (Columbia County EC).
Tallahassee (Leon) Florida: AI4GF, AG4UU, WQ4M, KI4HGO (Capital District EC), K4MVL, W1ABT (Leon County EC).
Monticello (Jefferson) Florida: KI4JOO (Jefferson County AEC), KA3FZO, KI4AGD, N0TW. Moultrie (Colquitt) Georgia: K4BEE (Colquitt County EC), KJ4HII (SWGA ADEC). Thomasville (Thomas) Georgia: N4KGT, AI4CW (Gadsden County AEC).
Cairo (Grady) Georgia: KI4RGD.
Live Oak (Suwannee) Florida: W2DWR (North FL Section EC).
Port St. Joe (Gulf) Florida: W4NFG.
Crawfordville (Wakulla) Florida: KI4PRX.
Crestview (Okaloosa) Florida: N4GXX.: N4CU
(West Panhandle District.)
On the VHF Net the following stations participated:
K4NRD: Madison County EC and Net Control,
KD4EKS: Madison County AEC and RDF consultant,
KJ4AOU: RDF local team,
KC4VPJ: Madison County Hospital station,
KI4IFD: Traffic handling going east
W4GNA: RDF coordinating station,
KI4JOO: RDF coordinating station – VHF relay to Georgia,
WD4CJI: Georgia RDF team and Brooks County Georgia hospital,
KJ4GON: Georgia RDF Team and Brooks Hospital
KJ4GOJ: NWS-DEC and Brooks Hospital,
W4FWL: Tallahassee RDF team,
KJ4KUK: Georgia RDF team,
KI4TRR: Suwannee County, Florida EC,
KE4FGF: Georgia SEC and ELT transmitter team,
KJ4LOO: NWS ADEC and ELT transmitter team.

While the HF Net identified available medical response resources throughout North Florida and South Georgia the local VHF net on 146.550 continued coordination of RDF (radio direction finding) activities. W4FWL from Tallahassee, WD4CJI, KJ4GON, and KJ4KUK from South Georgia and KJ4AOU from Madison County, Florida combined their efforts to locate the “crash site.” The ELT transmitter was finally located at 11:47 AM and W4FWL assumed on-site Incident Command. His report indicated 8 fatalities, 18 burn patients, and 16 additional trauma victims.

Resources identified on the HF net were called upon to respond including medical helicopters, ambulances, and hospitals to receive the injured as well as FAA notification. The nets were closed down at 12:30 PM after all needed contacts had been made. A total of 23 operators were on the 3.955 HF net and an additional (unduplicated count) 15 operators on the 146.550 local VHF net. The two nets worked cooperatively and without using any local VHF repeaters. A Georgia Net on 3.975 was also involved but no count of operators was taken by the Florida units.

The objectives of the exercise were accomplished. RDF teams found the “crash site” transmitter within 3 hours of notification. Communications to critical treatment centers within 120 miles of the rural incident were established. Stations from multiple ARES Districts in Georgia and Florida were directly involved. VHF communications used primarily simplex frequencies with relay stations rather than repeaters. As HF propagation changed, HF relay stations filled in the gaps. All stations participating maintained good discipline and demonstrated a high level of good emergency communications protocol.

Special thanks go to Mike Brown, KE4FGF (GA-SEC) and Zack Chandler, KJ4LOO (NWS-ADEC), for setting up the exercise and driving to Florida to install and monitor the ELT transmitter and “crash site.” Thanks also to Gina McCulley, W4GNA for offering her north Florida property as the “crash site.”
Coming Soon

Left: Ivan (W4WFL), Rich (KJ4AOU), Right: ( ) Ivan (W4WFL)
Left: ( ) Right: KC4VPJ setting up homemade 2 Meter 3 element “Tape” beam and Ground Plane antennas.
Left: Homemade “Tape” beam for direction finding and ground plane for communication.
Bottom left: KC4VPJ’s “operations” desk.
 Right: KC4VPJ taking a break in the action.