Monday, February 23, 2009

Volunteer Activities since Christmas

  • Jan 7: OEM Siren Test (1st Wednesday of every month) - we physically inspect the siren for signs of tampering and damage, then monitor the siren as it is tested for sound and rotation for both the direct current and battery back-up tests
  • Jan 8: EMST meeting at the OEM - set schedule (finally) for the rest of the year
  • Jan 17: Red Cross Shelter Management Training (all day)
  • Jan 27-28: DFW "ice storm" - it was 19, we had some freezing rain, streets icy overnight til around noon, I stayed inside til they cleared
  • Jan 31: NWS Skywarn and Advanced Storm Spotter Training (all day) - excellent!!! Sponsored by local NBC Channel 5. Held throughout the state and country. If you have any interest in weather at all, you'll find this very interesting. They expected about 250 to attend. They quit counting at 400 when the registration blanks ran out. Check your local National Weather Service website and look for the Skywarn Logo to find a class near you.
  • Feb 4: I served as Net Controller for OEM Siren Test (my first opportunity)
  • Feb 10: Severe Weather moving across Texas dropped a small F1 tornado in Colleyville just west of DFW airport, but still causing hundreds of thousands of $$ in damage; I entered RACES spotter & NWS reports into Arlington's OEM Event Log - from home this time - won't try to do that again for many reasons, one being no battery back-up for my computer & modem
  • Feb 17 - RACES quarterly dinner at Spring Creek Barbeque - yum!
  • Feb 19: CERT & EMST Search & Rescue Training at the Fire Training Center taught by fireman who instructs search & rescue to fire department personnel. Indoor lecture and instruction very interesting. Moved to training tower to walk around inside in small groups without the lights on to find way out - was a very short exercise and we primarily stood around doing nothing in the rather chilly wind for well over an hour. The AFD did have several of their specialized units come over for us to inspect: Fire Chief's SUV, Quint (ladder truck that reaches 105 feet from ground), Water Rescue and Hazmat trucks. Interesting. Those trucks are a LOT bigger when you stand right next to them than they look driving down the street

Coming Up:

  • Feb 28: The Cowtown - Formerly called The Cowtown Marathon; with so many different races being run the same day they've dropped "Marathon" from the name; Apx 70 hams will participate in various locations and positions to assist race officials, ride in Sag Wagons, be present at water stops, etc. Shifts start at 4:30 A.M. I'll find out Thursday where I'll be positioned.
  • March 14: 9 TESSA (TExas Severe Storm Asso) 2009 National Storm Conference in Colleyville - 9am to 5pm - open free to the public - extremely interesting - I've been 3 times before.
  • April 2-5: Texas Motor Speedway (for some at least); Because of the vagaries of spring weather in Texas, RACES members are on site to monitor weather conditions and provide radio contact with the NWS regarding watches, warnings and alerts. Pretty much every year something weather related occurs.
  • April: if there are enough hams interested, I'm going to take an EMCOMM 1 class (Emergency Communications) so that I can serve as a Net Controller during severe weather and other emergency events for RACES. A final test is involved.

A great guy at Arlington Amateur Radio Club has given me 15-foot radio antenna so that I will have much better broadcast ability from home. While I have no problem receiving local repeater reception (a repeater takes a weaker transmission, ups the gain then repeats/broadcasts the signal across a much wider area - overcoming the problems with line-of-sight transmissions) my little hand-held radio (which looks like a clunky early 1990's cell phone) coupled with the fact that I live at the lowest point in the neighborhood, means if I want to talk on the radio from home I generally have to go outside and stand in the drive-way or walk up the street - not ideal during a storm! I didn't know the antenna would be THAT tall. A couple of the men from the AARC are going to come over to help mount it to my eaves or on a pole sitting next to the house. I wonder if it will serve as a lightning rod. I hope not. My 45-foot maple tree, only 15 feet from the house, was struck by lightening a few years ago and has slowly but surely and sadly died, branch by branch and limb by limb, ever since. That was scary enough.

If, per chance, anyone stops by to read my blog, and IF someone has any questions, please post those in the comment section. Thanks for reading.

Abbreviation Key

AARC - Arlington Amateur Radio Club
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service
- Community Emergency Response Team
EMST - Emergency Management Support Team
- Emergency Operations Center - part of the OEM
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- National Weather Service
NWS FWD - National Weather Service - Fort Worth/Dallas
OEM - Office of Emergency Management
- Public Service Event - ARES Net
RACES - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
- TExas Severe Storm Associaton