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RE: will AMSAT be ready for the next disaster?



A few opinions (probably not humble, sorry):

I have read the comments on this subject and there is (some) truth in what
many say.

First, my credentials...I am a ham (OK, no laughter).  Also, AMSAT and ARES
member with experience providing race communications over the 1200-mile
course of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race across the Alaskan bush (resembles in
many ways any "undeveloped" part of the world) and great practise moving
yourself and station by small plane and snowmachine to a roadless (you
might call it wilderness) area that may have "nothing"...one year it was a
wall tent on a frozen lake (daytime temp -40F) 50-miles form the nearest
village.  Also, a former EMT, and prof. radio operator during the Exxon
Valdez oil spill in 1989.  I now work as the head of communications for an
oil spill recovery company...right now one of our techs is out at Dutch
Harbor in the Aleutians working on the oil spill of the freighter that ran
aground there last month.  In my job I train workers how to use a radio and
train dispatchers for their job (and provide tech consultation to mgmt).
So I guess I have some hands-on knowledge on this subject.

I think what we must keep in mind is that emergency comms must fit the
location, local resources, and skill pool.  I have the impression that much
of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster is in areas with very meager
communications under normal times...and certainly the urban centers are
probably fairly modern.  Local hams, may not exist in large numbers due a
multitude of reasons: lack of educated pop., money, gov't restriction, lack
of power infrastructure.  My limited expereince with a few hams interested
in satellite operation in SE Asia is that money and lack of a source of
satellite/mw equipment is the big hurdle.  Therefore, there is not likely
very many expereinced operators with equipment in very many areas!

So, I suspect simple voice HF or VHF comms will be most useful to get info
back to staging areas, which may also have comms needs that could benefit
by satellite/digital comms.  This may require volunteer operators with
portable stations, trained for emergency operations, and ready to be
deployed into those situations.  I other situations there are local hams
that just need more equipment.

What I have found is there is no blueprint for response, every emergency is
different and you must be able to be flexible in your response.  Yes, plan.
 Yes, package equipment.  Definitely PRACTISE!

 I think satellite comms has a place, sometimes, in some locations.  I see
a lot of cell-phone use on practise-drills and real emergencies....and also
a lot of folks finding it doesn't work everywhere!  Our company bought two
Iridium sat-phones for this very reason.  We use VHF, VHF Marine, VHF Air,
HF-Marine, Cell-phone, Sat-phone, portable repeaters, portable radio
consoles, cell-phone Fax units, and GPS-trackers...oh and occasionally live
mw video feeds!

...and everytime we make mistakes and have to adjust our thinking to a new
set of circumstances!

So, that being said....I hope everyone will have a "normal", safe, and
happy new year!

73's Ed - AL7EB
Nikiski, Alaska BP40iq
Amsat #3212, Field Vol.
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