Joint Canada-USA Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications Preparedness Event
Amateur Radio -- a community resource that crosses all borders
Demonstration of CAN-US Emcomm
By Bob Cooke, VE3BDB
Copyright © Radio Amateurs of Canada Inc.
A wind-swept crag on
The brainchild of two
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) officials, the
demonstration of co-operation in emergency communications preparedness between
Radio Amateurs in
Objectives were three-fold:
a) to highlight the capabilities of Amateur Radio in providing emergency
communications in times of crisis; b) to illustrate the co-operation between
Canada and the USA on emergency preparedness within the context of the Security
and Prosperity Partnership signed by the President of the United States and the
Prime Minister of Canada in 2005; and c) to create a database of Radio Amateur
“first responders” whom the Canadian government could contact for emergency
communications assistance in time of disaster.
The two DFAIT officials,
both from the Consulate General of Canada offices in
Canadian Christine Pappas,
who is Consul and Program Manager and a non-Amateur, was aided by Trade
Commissioner Steve Flamm, WB4GCF, in making arrangements for sponsorship of the
demonstration, in concert with RAC. Event
Chairman Daniel Lamoureux, VE2KA, who is RAC’s Vice President for
International Affairs, coordinated the event.
Special Event Call Sign
Operating special event
call sign VO1ARES from the VO1AA station in
operators, SONRA was the “eyes and ears” of RAC as plans were made,
invitations extended and facility arrangements were put into place, led by
President Doug Mercer, VO1DTM.
Christine and Steve came up
with the idea after Hurricane Katrina, in response to concern for the thousands
of Canadian citizens who annually spend winters in the southern
Radio Can Help “Snowbirds”
With normal communications
being down or overloaded to the point of being useless during such a crisis,
vacationing Canadians or “snowbirds” could be without the means to at least
provide family and friends back home with information concerning their health
That’s where Amateur
Radio comes in and that’s why the demonstration was conducted.
The value of having a database of Radio Amateurs who are equipped and
ready to respond quickly was clearly realized and appreciated.
Such a resource would be
beneficial for mutual aid between the American Radio Relay League and RAC,
providing a pool of first responder radio operators in the event of emergencies
or disasters occurring within one country of the other.
It would also be of great importance when assistance was needed between
regions and even Field Organization Sections within
In fact, the ARRL has
already begun building such a database and plans are actively underway by
RAC’s Field Services for the same resource to be set up in
Over the two days, during
scheduled times and using various modes on arranged frequencies, operators at
Signal Hill handled simulated emergency traffic (SET) from and to ARES stations
in the United States and Canada. Of
course, contacts were also made with those who wished to work VO1ARES and get
into the log.
Presidents Operate VO1ARES
Two high-profile operators
were ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, and RAC President Earle Smith, VE6NM,
both of whom took a turn at the key or microphone.
In their respective
addresses to invited guests prior to the demonstration, both presidents pointed
to the long-standing cooperation between their respective organizations, as well
as voicing a strong belief in the value of Amateur Radio in providing emergency
communications in time of disaster. As
Joel put it, Amateurs know no borders when their abilities are needed.
Including SET contacts, a
total of 356 QSOs were made, among them187 stations in the
ARRL Alabama Section
Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, was one of the ARES operators in the
In Fitzroy Provincial Park, about an hour’s drive north of Ottawa, Ken Halcrow, VE3SRS, and crew, along with the Canadian Forces (Reserve) 763 Communications Regiment, set up operations to participate in the event.
and Dignitaries Attend
Those in attendance
included Councillor Sandy Hickman, who represented the City of
extended to other officials, including the Minister of Public Safety and the
Minister of Industry, were declined, as were several sent to local emergency
However, that did not deter
those who did attend from witnessing a first-rate demonstration of emergency
communications. Those who were
absent don’t appreciate what an opportunity they missed.
Using SSB, CW and other
digital modes, messages containing information, which in a disaster would be
vital, were competently delivered despite less than perfect propagation.
Awed by Demonstration
As the demonstration
progressed, visitors to the site entered the small staging area of the partially
enclosed station to gape in wonderment as they witnessed communications being
conducted from the same location as Marconi’s historic trans-Atlantic feat one
hundred six years prior!
Questions were asked (and
answered) and many photographs taken as the visitors, tourists to the Parks
Canada facility, were treated to an extra and unexpected attraction.
Several times the area was
so crowded and full of chatter that one tourist wondered aloud at how the radio
operators, who continued to pass and receive traffic, could possibly carry on
with so many distractions; but carry on they did.
Timing and location of the
event couldn’t have been better because of the Marconi connection and planned
innovations and support for the RAC ARES in the areas of identification,
training and administration. Further
details about those initiatives will be forthcoming.
it Happen Again?
Already there has been some
talk about doing it again and credit is given to the following operators who
helped make the first event a success: VO1DTM,
VO1PRB, VO1VZ, VO1EGS, VO1DK, VO1BQ, VO1CT, VO1HE, VO1IRA, VO1HLD, VO1RYL,
VO1GXG, VO1HC, VO1MDS, VO1TTU, VO1NA, VO1PX, VO1BKR, and “mainlanders”
VE3SRS, VE4YU, W3BNY, WB4JFS, VE3GNA, VA3KU, VE3JSO, VE3VY, VE9HC and W4OZK.
We apologize if anyone has been missed.
QSLs to confirm contacts, or SWL logging of VO1ARES, are to be sent care of
VE9GLF. Replies will be via the
Bureau unless sufficient return Canadian postage (or IRCs) and an envelope are
(To view the photos that were included with this article, see the Jan/Feb 2008 TCA.)
A commemorative QSL card will be issued automatically via the bureau to every contact made. QSLing may be done through the bureau to VO1ARES via VE9GLF.
If desired, QSLs may be sent direct to VO1ARES via VE9GLF, G.L. Friars, 35 Upper Quaco Road, Baxters Corner, New Brunswick, Canada E2S 2S2.
ALL replies from VO1ARES will be via the bureau. Those wishing a direct reply, including Short Wave Listeners, must include an envelope and sufficient postage. Within Canada, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).
If outside of Canada, please include sufficient International Reply Coupons (IRCs) to cover the cost of a letter from Canada to your country. This is imperative in order to receive a card directly, otherwise it will go via the bureau. Remember, only Canadian postal stamps may be used on mail posted from Canada. Do not send U.S. or other non-Canadian stamps.
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