|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Business as Usual|
|Feature Article||Web News||Disclaimer/Copyright|
|Top of the Hill||by Aaron Hall , President|
Now for my soapbox. Please keep in mind that even though Search and Rescue is a lot of work, it is also a lot of fun. Missions are always interesting, and trainings, evaluations, and hikes great opportunities to learn new things and meet new people. Summer is here and, as is usual for this time of year, we are experiencing a decline in the number of missions that we get called for. Lack of missions can reduce the excitement quotient of SAR. This means that it's doubly important to attend trainings, monthly hikes, and evaluations because, let's face it, we do this in part because we enjoy it and enjoy working with our teammates. SAR is fun! So please get out there and attend a training, conduct an evaluation, or lead a hike of the month. You will enjoy it and so will your teammates!
|Boots and Blisters||by Steven Buckley, Training Officer|
I wanted to take some time to review our training program with you and look at the training status of the team. Ignoring the fact that we have one more training opportunity this month, the team is doing a pretty good job in attending our training program. The best news is that we have no members who are in danger of getting a status change to "ex-member" due to failing to attend two trainings in two consecutive half year periods. In addition 75% of the team has at least two training for the Jan-Jun 2003 half. Great job! Thanks for your support. Four members and 3 prospective members are short this half. Four people have no trainings (3 prospective members and 1 member) and three people have one training (all members). Please review your training records on the web site and let me know if you disagree with what the record says.
Now for some kudos for the high attenders. I will throw out number one (me-9 trainings) on account of attending trainings is my job. For the rest of the team; David Chapek and Tony Gaier are tied for the lead with six trainings each, Bob Baker, Mike Dugger, are tied for number two with five trainings each and Kevin Mohr and Tom Russo are tied for third with four trainings each. Of course, these numbers will change after Tom's training on the 21st. The disqualified number one will still be number one (and still be disqualified) since I do not intend to miss Tom's training!
I also want to thank those of you who have volunteered to do trainings. As the team has probably already figured out, the guest trainers do a lot better job than I do. Looking back on the schedule I recall Tony Gaier's superb night navigation training and Larry Mervine's outstanding litter training complete with "injured" subjects compliments of Tom Russo. David Chapek, Mike Dugger, and Tony Gaier also did a great job on pre-meeting trainings. Thanks to these folks and all of the others who contributed to the training program. Without your help, the training program suffers...a heart-felt thank you!
Of course, an article by me is not complete without my obligatory plea for more help. As we enter the second half of 2003, I need your help to shape the rest of this year's training program. I still need guest trainers. You guys have skills the rest of the team need. Please sign up for a training date and share the wealth. The team will be stronger for it.
|Business as Usual:Meeting Minutes||by Joyce Rumschlag, Secretary|
Comments were taken from the floor pertaining to ESCAPE. Some of the classes commented about were: Fire behavior, Land Nav. Desert Survival, Climbing for ground pounders, Alzheimer subjects, Skeleton I.D.
It was again mentioned that there was not enough participation on our part in ESCAPE and next year we will get in early and be involved. It was stated that if we wanted to be involved, we should start now. If anyone has any more ideas on this subject, contact Steve Buckley.
We need to think about what type of equipment we need to require for people wanting to be on a snow team. We also need to find a new supplier for patches.
Steve Buckley commented on the upcoming mock search to be held in September 2003. Last year he worked the ICS end of it; this year he will focus on the teams. The main item will involve an airplane crash with injuries and fatalities. A committee was formed to work on the mock search. Steve Buckley will head the committee. Members include Robert Baker, David Dixon, Terry Hardin,Tom Russo, and Aidan Thompson. Adam Hernandez suggested that we somehow combine a BBQ with the mock search.
Meeting was adjourned at 2030.
|Hamming it up, part 1.||by Tom Russo|
Amateur radio, or "Ham" radio, is ubiquitous in Search and Rescue. In this series of articles I hope to introduce Ham Radio to you if you haven't heard of it before, encourage you to get your license if you were sitting on the fence, and encourage you to get more actively involved in the Amateur Radio Service if you've just gotten your license but not done much with it.
Needless to say, this is meant to get your interest piqued enough to come to the training on the 21st.
The Federal Communications Commission has defined the Amateur Radio Service as a voluntary, non-commercial service, established for the purposes of "recognizing and enhancing" the amateur's value to public service and emergency communications, "continuing and extending" the amateur's "proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art," "encouraging and improving" the advancement of skills in "the communication and technical phases of the art," the expansion of the pool of trained radio operators, and the "continuation and expansion of the amateur's ability to increase international goodwill." That's a mouthful, but it says a lot: the service has been set aside to encourage some pretty good stuff, and you can be a part of it.
Most amateur radio exams are now administered by "Volunteer Examiners" (VEs), and there are many opportunities to take the exams. Here in Albuquerque there was once a monthly testing session for the Technician class license, but this appears to have been reduced to a once-every-two-months session. The best way to locate an exam session is to go to the ARRL web site and use the navigation bar to access the "Exams" sub-menu of the "Licensing" menu.
Amateurs particpiate in many activities that could interest you. In the area of public service, amateurs provide communications support at races, parades and other special events. Amateurs organize to provide emergency communications support; Search and Rescue is just one form of this, but disaster communication is another Ham specialty --- many amateurs train to provide short and long-distance communications in the event that communications infrastructure is knocked out. Lastly, between disasters and special events, working with radio can be a fun hobby. Chatting with strangers is popular on the internet, but Hams were there first --- "rag chewing" is probably the most widely enjoyed aspect of the hobby. Operating contests provide nifty chances to earn awards while honing your ability to pull signals out of the noise or reach half-way around the world and pick up a contact from someone in Lower Slobbovia. The annual "Field Day" operating event is a combination of a contest and an excuse to practice operating in emergency-like conditions --- set up a station somewhere away from home, rack up contacts, pass traffic and earn points. In fact, this year's field day will be the week after our ham training.
Everything you do to further your enjoyment of the hobby in these regards will gain you some measure of knowledge and experience that will only help you as you work to become a better SAR communicator. I encourage you not to sell yourself short.
I have always been of the opinion that the approach in the last paragraph isn't the right one. Getting a license by learning the answers to a pool of questions earns you the same privileges that you'd get by learning the material the questions are meant to test you on, but after you're licensed you're missing out on lot more if you do it the fast way. Even if you prefer to get the testing out of the way first, I highly recommend that you take the time to start learning what all that stuff actually meant. Pick up a copy of "Now You're Talking" from the ARRL and read through it in your quiet moments.
After you get your license, there's more learning to do. A time-honored way to get that knowlege under your belt is to find an "Elmer." An Elmer is a more experienced ham who is willing to help you learn the ropes, get the most out of your equipment, and get the most out of your license. Joining an amateur radio club could be a good way to meet one.
Of course, having a license is only one step in the process of being a ham. Another important step is actually having radio equipment. If you've got cash dying to burn its way through your pocket, there are plenty of mail-order and internet stores where you can buy shiny new radios. If not, you can start looking for used equipment at "swapfests." These are held fairly often in our area, and I try to post info on them as I learn of them. Another good place to go for deals is the Duke City Hamfest, held every year in August. And each week there is a "swap net" held on all the Upper Rio FM Society repeaters in the state --- this is a great way to hook folks who want to sell used stuff up with folks who want to buy used stuff.
While not entirely the best approach for SAR work (where VHF FM tranceivers reign supreme), a time-honored way for hams to get equipment is to build it themselves. Naturally, this is an aspect of the hobby that takes some extra learning, and you usually start small, probably from kits. Home-built equipment is more likely to be found among the equipment you'd use for hobbyist activities, but it can have its place in your emergency communications tool bag. As a simple example, some members of Cibola have been building APRS trackers to enable them to transmit their locations to incident base directly from their GPS units.
In future installments of this series I hope to get into more detail about various communications modes, emergency communications operations, and to harp endlessly on the theme of "the more you learn the better an asset you are." In the mean time, please dust off your radio if you already have one, dust off your study guide if you haven't been reading it, and start getting into Amateur Radio.
|Disclaimer and Copyright notice||the Editors|