Tornado Drill, February 22Sarasota County will be holding a Tornado drill on February 22. ACS will be participating, by handling communications between CERT Teams deployed in the field, and the EOC. We'll also be testing our ACS deployment procedures as part of the exercise.
Hurricane Exercise, May 26The State will be conducting it's annual Hurricane Exercise this week, and Sarasota County EOC will be holding their Exercise on Thursday, May 26th. The exercise will consist of training and using the new WebEOC system.
No ACS deployments will be necessary as part of the exercise, however, ACS members may still be able to contribute. If you would like to help, please come up with a few emergency messages to send to the EOC. This would be "typical" traffic you might send during an activation. If you're at a shelter, it might be a head count of evacuees and staff, or a request for supplies. If you're with a TFIT team, it might be reports of damage, such as downed trees or power lines in the road. If you're with a CERT team, it may be a status report from your neighborhood. Be imaginative and creative, but realistic. Be sure to preface any exercise messages with "THIS IS A DRILL".
On Thursday afternoon, between about 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM, I'll activate the radio room at the EOC and monitor the EOC repeater, SAR-6 443.550 MHz and start taking any reports. Those reports will be plugged into the WebEOC system, to test it and see if they get to their intended recipients. Since we'll have 3 hours to play, and I'll be learning the new system as well, so please don't send all the traffic at once!
Field Day 2011After another successful Field Day weekend, we're already looking forward to next year - June 25 and 26, 2011. If you're interested in participating - operating, setting up, loaning equipment - please contact Ron, WD4AHZ.
Memorandum of UnderstandingIn order for ACS to provide it's services to the County, we rely on the use of several repeaters, which belong to local clubs or individuals.
Today, we signed a written Memorandum of Understanding with the Sarasota Emergency Radio Club, for the use of their repeaters during Emergencies and exercises.
ACS also has similar verbal agreements with the North Port Amateur Radio Club and Tom Profant, K4TAP, for the use of their repeaters.
Thanks to SERC, NPARC, and K4TAP, for their support of Emergency Management and ACS activities.
New ACS RepeaterWe're pleased to announce, that there is a new ACS repeater on the air.
Frequency: 443.750 MHz
PL: 100 Hz
Power: 50 Watts
Antenna height: 70 feet
Alpha Numeric: SAR-11
Location: RL Anderson Administration Building, South Venice
Coverage is limited at this time, as it still needs some tweaks and checks. When fully operational this will be a "local area" emergency repeater for the Venice area.
Thanks to Sarasota County for the use of the location and to Eddie, K4JP, for his perseverance, in getting it up and running.
Signal reports are welcome.
Mutual Aid PlanFor some time Anne Miller (Sarasota County EM Logistics Chief) and ACS Radio Officer, Ron, WD4AHZ, have been discussing a "mutual aid" plan, when after a disaster, EM staff and hams from a non-impacted county would come to Sarasota to relieve folks here ... or if we were not impacted, Sarasota EM staff and hams would relieve staff at an impacted county.
One of the primary objectives, was to find an ARES/RACES/ACS group with a good working relationship with their EM folks, and with similar goals and objectives to ours. Next we needed to find another county that had an EM staff that was open to the idea of such a "mutual aid" agreement.
After researching several ARES/RACES groups and inquiries with several EM offices, Anne, Bob, KA4BOB, Ed, K8DSS, and Ron made a trip to Tavares, in Lake County, to meet Al, K4ALR (Lake County EC), Doug, K4AC, and Rick, N7WE.
We got a look at their radio room before settling down in their EOC to talk. We had very good 2 hour discussion covering a wide variety of topics, including the "mutual aid" idea, and our respective groups operations and plans. We were all very pleased to discover the many similarities between our organizations and the same paths we have taken and the same direction we appear to be headed.
After a lunch break, we headed over to the Lake Amateur Radio Association (the local club) clubhouse and ham station, and took a good look at their Emergency Communications trailer.
You can check out the club and ARES/RACES group at their website.
While we still have operational and logistical plans to work out, we did agree on the need for standardized training of our groups members, and this is something folks can get started on right away. Their members are a little behind us as far as getting their members compliant with the ICS requirements, but they are working on getting those done.
The "basic" required classes would need to be completed. These consist of:
ARECC Level I (or our local equivalent)
IS-100 Introduction to Incident Command System
IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction
These are already required by FEMA, the State, and Sarasota County for deployment in the County, and most of our members already have these completed.
For our "mutual aid" activities with Lake County, these are the additional classes that will be needed:
IS-200 ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (already a FEMA, State, and County requirement for out-of-county deployment)
IS-704 NIMS Communications and Information Management
IS-706 NIMS Intrastate Mutual Aid - An Introduction
IS-802 Emergency Support Functions (ESF) #2 - Communications
IS-704 is a very good course, that everyone should take regardless. It spells out the role and importance of Communications ... and points out why ACS (or RACES) exists and why we do what we do. In fact, Amateur Radio is mentioned several times in this course.
IS-706 covers mutual aid, which is what we will now be participating in, so this is an obvious choice.
IS-802 covers ESF #2, Communications. This is the ESF (Emergency Support Function) that we fall under, so this is course explains the function of ESF #2.
Some folks already have one or two of these completed.
For our purposes, we have agreed to drop the ARECC Level II requirement. First, it's currently not being offered, and second, the new ARECC Level II course is geared toward management level operations and isn't relevant to mutual aid or what most members would need. Those who already have ARECC Level II credit, will be able to use that towards the State requirement.
Sometime in the next month or so, they will be coming down here to visit our EOC and see our operation. We also discussed the possibility of doing some kind of joint "mutual aid" exercise in the future.
All in all, a very positive step with a very enthusiastic and energetic group of folks, who are on the same page as us. We're looking forward to working with each other.
February 27 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, February 27th. 6 people tested, 1 passed their Technician exam, 2 went directly to General, 2 upgraded to General, and 1 upgraded to Extra.
Charles Jaglinski, KB1TUD
James Johnstone, KJ4SSL
Richard Musior, KJ4SSM
Gary Riedel, KJ4KHM (upgraded to General)
Richard Hullfish, KI4EFJ (upgraded to General)
Ronal Hall, KJ4RPG (upgraded to Extra)
In addition, Jim Briggs, WA9TIR, and Gerald Colbert, KJ4MMH, passed their ARECC Level I exams.
New ACS Assignment OfficerWe're pleased to announce that Mic, W4ZPP, has been appointment our new ACS Assignment Officer. Mic will be taking over the duties from Dave, K9DAV, and Cheri. Thanks to Dave and Cheri for their time and efforts.
On a related note, the County is in the process of implementing a new "Reverse 911" system. ACS will have access to this system to automatically call our members when ACS is asked to activate. If your phone numbers have recently changed, please let me know so I have the most current information to enter into the new system when it comes online.
January 23 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, January 23rd. 3 people tested, 1 passed their Technician exam, and 1 upgraded to Extra.
John Beckwith, KD8MYW
Jerry Colbert, KJ4MMH (upgraded to Extra)
Wayne Duholke, N8IPB (Grandfathered to General)
Shelter Antenna UpdateThe last 2 shelter antenna installations at the Venice Community Center and Bishop Nevins Academy, have been completed. This brings the total number of Sarasota County locations with permanent dual-band amateur antennas installed, to 22. This include 18 evacuation shelters, 3 Special Needs shelters, and the backup EOC. Thanks to Sarasota County Emergency Management, the Sarasota County School Board, Wireless Technology (WTEC), and the ACS members who assisted with this project.
Amateur Service Communications During Government Disaster DrillsThe FCC released information regarding paid employees of agencies using Amateur Radio as part of disaster drills. Since ACS members do the operating on behalf of our served agencies, this information does not apply to our activities.
ACS Hours for 2008-20091st Quarter (Oct 08 - Dec 09) = 370.00 Hours
2nd Quarter (Jan 09 - Mar 09) = 504.00 Hours
3rd Quarter (Apr 09 - Jun 09) = 689.50 Hours
4th Quarter (Jul 09 - Sep 09) = 583.50 Hours
Total Volunteer Hours = 2,147.00
October 3 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, October 3rd. 4 people tested, 3 passed their Technician exams, and 1 upgraded to General. Congratulations to the new hams!
Kenneth Schiffmeyer, KJ4PNI
Kathleen Proman, KJ4PNJ
Harold Brewer, KJ4PNK
Jerry Colbert, KJ4MMH (upgraded to General)
Shelter Antenna InstallationAnother two shelter antenna installations have been completed. This brings the number of locations with permanently mounted dual-band antennas to 21. Thanks to Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County School District, Sarasota County's communications contractor, WTEC, and to Gene, KJ4GST, Bob, KF4JRO, and Craig, KE9IY, for their assistance during these recent work sessions.
ACS Echolink ConferenceWe have set up our own Echolink Conference Server, *SARACS*, as another tool in our communications toolbox. It is available 24/7 for anyone to use, but during emergencies, emergency communications takes priority.
June 20 VE Test Session ResultsA special VE test session was held for the Red Cross on Saturday, June 20th. 5 people tested and all 5 passed their Technician exams. Congratulations to the new hams!
Benjamin Wolkski, KJ4NBW
Fred Lux, KJ4NBX
Inaki Rezola, KJ4NBY
Stephen Fernandes, KJ4NBZ
Robert Swithers, KJ4NCA
May 23 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, May 23rd. 6 people tested, 3 passed their Technician exams, 1 upgraded to General, and 1 upgraded to Extra. Congratulations to the new hams!
Buz Simpson, KJ4MMF
Bill Gollwitzer, KJ4MMG
Jerry Colbert, KJ4MMH
Mark Brooks, KJ4JCG (upgraded to General)
Craig Reinhardt, KE9IY (upgraded to Extra)
Shelter Antenna Project, Phase IIThe next phase of our Shelter Antenna Project is nearly complete. 7 more shelters, in addition to 10 done previously, now have permanent dual-band antennas installed. (The last one will be completed during the next school break). Thanks to Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County School District, Sarasota County's communications contractor, WTEC, for making this happen, and to Bob, KA4BOB, Gene, KJ4GST, and Rich, KJ4KHJ, for their assistance during these work sessions.
Mar. 7 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, Mar. 7th. 8 people tested, 5 passed their Technician exams and 2 upgraded to General. Congratulations to the new hams!
Richard Schmelke, KJ4KHJ
Alden Doane, KJ4KHK
Robert King, KJ4KHL
Gary Riedel, KJ4KHM
Carolyn May, KJ4KHN
Charles Greenwald, KI4WAY (upgraded to General)
Carl Zahrndt, KE4KZZ (upgraded to General)
Jan. 24 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, Jan. 24th. 7 people tested, 5 passed their Technician exams and one upgraded to General. Congratulations to the new hams!
Alex Yoder, KJ4JCD
Karl Ringer, KJ4JCE
John Thompson, KJ4JCF
Mark Brooks, KJ4JCG
Charles Manson, KJ4JCH
Jack Stevenson, KJ4HUQ (upgraded to General)
Upgraded HF station at EOCTo help us re-establish HF connectivity from the EOC, we made some antenna repairs and installed new HF equipment. The EOC station is now running the following equipment:
ICOM IC-7200 HF + 6 Meter radio
LDG Z-11Pro Automatic antenna tuner
Samlex 1235M DC Switching power supply
7 Band OCF Dipole
Thanks to Bob, KA4BOB, Eddie, K4JP, and Jim, WA9TIR, for their assistance.
ACS YouTube PageWe have set up an ACS page on YouTube. Plans are to put together a collection of useful videos, as well as eventually produce and post our own videos on training and operating procedures. Follow the YouTube link on the menu at the top of the page, or go to youtube.saracs.org.
ACS GuidelinesTo help clear up some confusion about ACS, the following guidelines are being posted for all to view.
1) Emergency Management has designated the ACS organization as their amateur radio partner and auxiliary communications service provider, tasked with recruiting, organizing, and deploying ham radio operators for emergency activations in Sarasota County.
2) ACS operates under the direction of Emergency Management as part of Emergency Support Function 2 (ESF2, Communications). The ACS Radio Officer is appointed by Emergency Management.
3) Based on the incident type and projected needs, Emergency Management specifies what assignments ACS is needed to fill. ACS fills those positions by priority and available resources (members available to help). Manpower needs may also be filled by incoming volunteer resources, requested through the State and/or mutual aid agreements. ACS will coordinate these efforts.
4) Anyone wishing to become involved with Emergency Communications work for Sarasota County, is eligible to join ACS. However, training requirements must be met within 6 months to qualify for "missions".
5) ACS membership requirements must be met in order to work at County and/or government run facilities or sites. These requirements meet FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, and County directives regarding NIMS compliance. Members not meeting the membership requirements will have secondary status, and not be eligible to work at County and/or government run facilities or sites.
6) ACS will not maintain formal partnerships or liaisons with area radio clubs, but ACS representatives will be available to provide ACS membership information, when desired, to area radio clubs or non-affiliated amateur licensees. Assistant ACS Radio Officers, who may be members of local clubs, are available to answer general questions about ACS.
7) Printed updates on ACS activities are available on the ACS web site or via ACS member e-mail.
8) ACS equipment is not available for use by non-ACS members for non-ACS events or activities. Usage of County owned equipment is at the sole discretion of Emergency Management.
ACS MySpace PageIn addition to this web site, ACS also has a MySpace page where we are blogging about some of our activities as well as posting some photos. Follow the MySpace link on the menu at the top of the page, or go to myspace.saracs.org. If you're on MySpace yourself, be sure to send us a Friend Request.
Nov. 8 VE Test Session ResultsA VE test session was held on Saturday, Nov. 8th. 7 prospective students tested, and all 7 passed their Technician exams. Congratulations to these new hams!
Gary Ellis, KJ4HUO
Harry Shannon, KJ4HUP
Jack Stevenson, KJ4HUQ
Joan Cusumano, KJ4HUR
Matthew West, KJ4HUS
Rachel Rivlin, KJ4HUT
Scott Montgomery, KJ4HUU
ACS Hours for 2007-20081st Quarter (Oct 07 - Dec 07) = 356.00 Hours
2nd Quarter (Jan 08 - Mar 08) = 639.25 Hours
3rd Quarter (Apr 08 - Jun 08) = 700.00 Hours
4th Quarter (Jul 08 - Sep 08) = 313.50 Hours
Total Volunteer Hours = 2,008.75
Shelter Antenna ProjectA 2 1/2 year project came to a conclusion on January 3, 2008, as the last of our 11 Category 4/5 shelters had a permanent VHF/UHF antenna installed! Thanks to Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County School District, Sarasota County's communications contractor, WTEC, for making this happen, and to Steve, KI4VKX, Eddie, K4JP, Bob, K9SRQ, and Bob, KA4BOB, for their assistance during several multi-day work sessions.
Out of County MembersRealizing the possible need for assistance from outside the local area, we have decided to begin accepting membership from interested individuals living outside of Sarasota County. We DO NOT, however, intend to take members who are already affiliated with their "home" county groups - as we do not want to compete for the same limited resources. If you live outside Sarasota County, are not already a part of an ARES/RACES/ACS organization in your home county, are dedicated and committed to do the required training, and are able to deploy to Sarasota County when needed, you are eligible for Sarasota County ACS membership.
Telpac and WinLinkA Telpac gateway, WC4EM-10, has been set up on 145.090 MHz at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center to support WinLink and its potential use during emergencies. We hope to be able to set up more Telpac stations in the future to provide good county-wide coverage, as well as adding RF links for redundancy.
ACS Hours for 2006-20071st Quarter (Oct 06 - Dec 06) = 242.5 Hours
2nd Quarter (Jan 07 - Mar 07) = 547.0 Hours
3rd Quarter (Apr 07 - Jun 07) = 300.0 Hours
4th Quarter (Jul 07 - Sep 07) = 255.0 Hours
Total Volunteer Hours = 1,344.5
CERT Communications CourseSarasota ACS has been working with Sarasota County Emergency Management, to develop a communications course to be used during CERT training classes. This is some basic information on radio operations and procedures. We also encourage CERT members to become licensed amateur radio operators, to help their CERT teams when other communications systems fail, and also become ACS members to help support our Emergency Communications activities for the county when not active as CERT.
Dual Band HT CacheEmergency Management purchased a total of 20 dual band HT's, Yaesu FT-60's, as part of a portable radio cache. These radios can be used on deployments or for local "public service" events.
ARECC ManualsThrough a FEMA grant, Sarasota County Emergency Management was able to purchase ACS a number of the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course manuals - Level I, II, and III. These are available to loan out to ACS members to study for their ARECC exams.
If you'd like to borrow a manual to study, please contact
Bob, K9SRQ (Sarasota)
Eddie, K4JP (Venice, North Port)
ACS Man HoursMembers are required to keep track of "man hours" spent on ACS activities. Time spent may include classes (both taking and teaching), activations and deployments, meetings (ACS, EOC, etc.), training classes or exercises, "volunteer" time for served agencies, equipment repair or installation, etc.
Time spent on FEMA classes, will be based on CEU credits (.1 CEU credit/hour). For example, if you take the IS-700 class (.3 CEU), you will get 3 hours credit.
The ARRL ARECC classes are 25 hours each.
Other activities are based on total time spent.
Please submit your monthly hours on an ICS-214 form.