Sunday, October 16, 2011

Amateur Radio Operators Support Alzheimer's Walk, Fort Worth Trinity Park, Rangers Win ALCS

IF the World Series goes to game 5, I'm scheduled to monitor the EOC radios on the 24th.

Alzeimer's Walk Route Map through Trinity Park.

I met Gerry, RACES liason for the Fort Worth Joint EOC, outside of it at 6 this morning. He'd had to first fetch the smaller of the 2 RACES vans (located far elsewhere), but we managed to arrive less than a minute apart. From there it's a short ride to Trinity Park. The weather was perfect with temps from 58 to 77 by the time we left apx 11:40. This year Registration and Start/Finish were set up inside the walk route on the drive that bisects the double loops. The RACES van parked off-street directly across the road - where that little notch appears ENE of where the red marker is. MedStar's ambulance was parked nearby, at least two paramedics riding bikes loaded with their equipment. Police officers were on location as well, friendly and unobtrusive. Participant parking was in the large lot east of Farrington Field. Volunteers were told to park at some lot the other side of the Lancaster Bridge - both a considerable hike to Registration - the reason I met Gerry at the EOC. However, it looked to me that many, if not most, parked along park roadways instead.

Fourteen radio operators assisted. 4 individually assigned to certain Walk officials; 1 at each of 5 water stations to relay requests for water or emergency aid; 2 operated golf carts to ferry extra supplies and pickup walkers who needed a ride back to Registration or to the Parking lot;  Gerry and I were inside van where I served as primary Net Control. We used 146.76, one of the back-up repeaters. Gerry monitored the van's police/fire radios and jumped in when he (with his tens of years of considerable professional and volunteer experience doing this sort of thing rather than my 18 months of sporadic involvement) when he deemed it best that he quickly handled the matter. Not that I couldn't have if I'd had more experience and knew what I could tell the radio guys to do and/or given time enough to cogitate a moment. He reminded me I needed to keep the big picture in my head as Net Control and take control. I sat and learned. As participants finished, one of the assisted living center's resident buses was utilized as a Sag to transport those who weren't able to get back to the parking lot using a radio guy who'd completed his first assignment. At the end of the Walk the carts circled the route 2 or 3 times to make sure no one was left on the course and to retrieve left-over supplies, route signs and banners to assist the Alzheimer's organization clean up and clear out faster. Not in our job description, but ham radio operators are friendly, helpful folk and happy to assist. I took a few photos and IF I ever get those d/l to my computer, I'll post.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Texas Rangers & the ALCS Playoffs - OEM Gearing up for World Series

I am at best a barely nominal baseball fan. I didn't even realize the Rangers were going to the playoffs until they were IN the playoffs. But who can ignore the local excitement when the Rangers go into the ALCS for the second year in a row at The Ballpark? [An abrupt aside: I don't know anyone around here, except those required to do so for political or commercial reasons, who calls it "Ameriquest Field." It was originally officially and shall always be known as "The Ballpark" regardless of who next purchases the naming rights. Just who or what is Ameriquest anyway? Don't these entities realize no one cares and other than a poor attempt to aggrandize some corporate whatever, what advertizing purpose does it actually serve? Who has ever gone out and purchased an item or a bit of stock just because some ballpark or arena was named for some corporate one thing or another? Since I was forced to help pay for both The Ballpark and Cowboy Stadium through a many multi-year increase in special local sales taxes, why don't *I* or the majority of citizens get to name them? I call it a fraud upon the stockholders and/or citizens .... never mind.]

ALCS Game #1. Despite a couple of short rain delays, and after the magnificent display of choreographed grounds keepers who emerged from nowhere and covered the infield with a protective tarp in 60 or less seconds (wish I had seen them remove it as well) the game was completed and the Rangers WON. The rain eventually started falling at my house about 4 miles from The Ballpark and overnight I received 2.35". My Dad, who lives between here and there, got a much needed and greatly appreciated 2.9". Officially, however, DFW Airport only got 1.37". Game #2 on Sunday - postponed. Yes, it was a cloudy, humid mid-morning but that was clearing out so when I heard the game had been postponed due to possible rain later in the day,  I checked the current weather map and radar - the flume or plume of Gulf moisture that triggered the desperately needed heavy rains on Saturday night had already moved well east of the Metroplex. "Game postponed? HUH?"  Yep. No rain. Game #2 on Monday. Beautiful day ending with a record setting GRAND SLAM walk off (I had to ask about that term). I managed to tune in just in the nick of time to see Cruz at bat in the bottom of the 11th, some 4+ hours into the game. Looking at his face and seeing that long barely foul ball he walloped into the stands in left field, no way was he NOT going to hit a home run! Then I heard he'd already hit a home run in an earlier inning. Good job, Nelly!! GO RANGERS! So far the OEM/EOC has managed to operate without volunteer assistance this year.

However, with all the hopes of every baseball fan (even the nonfans) in this part of Texas fully expecting the Rangers to win the ALCS (sorry Detroit fans), the OEM is gearing up in advance of a possible second World Series. CERT members received an email yesterday indicating OEM needs and available shifts should that come to pass. As of now they are only asking for 2 CERT volunteers plus one radio operator for each of two 4-hour-shifts for each of the 3 days the Series would be in Arlington: October 22, 23 and 24th. I responded with my availability. If, nay WHEN, the World Series comes back to the Ballpark we'll be notified of a specific date and shift. The Arlington EOC isn't the only one which will be open and operational during that time. Other radio groups will also be up and ready to respond, including the area-wide hospital net and as well as other Metroplex OEM's - should the need arise. After both the World Series and Super Bowl in the past year, we volunteers have the routine down pat: check credentials for admittance to the EOC, make coffee, set out any food, maybe answer phones. Are 2 volunteers really enough? The ham radio person on duty, located in the radio room adjacent to the EOC, sits and gets really bored doing pretty much nothing. Getting really bored is a good thing. Perhaps the Joint EOC will fully activate and I can volunteer over there as well and see that in operation, which would be a different thus interesting experience for me.

Another line of storms has moved through starting about 0425 with continuing periods of  heavy rain. According to the online Personal Weather Station not far from my residence, we've already had another inch. GREAT! I'll check my own rain gauge later. Update: 1.2" of rain overnight.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Walk to End Alzheimers 2011 - Fort Worth

Date: October 15, 2011 - 8:00 a.m.

Location: Trinity Park (a beautiful walk through the trees and along the Trinity River just west of downtown Fort Worth)

Parking: In the Farrington Field Parking Lot, a couple of blocks east of the University Drive / Lancaster intersection.

Length:  apx. 2.5 miles

For additional information on the FW walk and others in the North Texas area click here. Trinity Park is a beautiful venue. The Walk is a great way to spend a fall Saturday morning with family and friends of all ages. Join the Walk!

I'll be acting as Net Control for this ARES public service event. Last year the RACES van was located in the Farrington Field parking lot. I think we'll be using the white box truck/van with "RACES" on the side - or look for the antennas. If you're around and spot us, walk by and wave or say hello! Since the map appears to show that the start finish is now in the MIDDLE of the course, we may park closer to that - don't know yet.  The Walk to End Alzheimer's logo is a trademark of the Alzheimer's Association.

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