Radio Amateurs Provide Communication Support in Boston Marathon Bombings — UPDATED
Read by: JERRY KE4ETY
As has happened many times in years past, over 200 Amateur Radio operators participated in communications for the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013. Unlike prior challenging situations such as very warm weather for the runners or other weather-related challenges, this year’s marathon will be remembered for the bombings that took place at the finish line. Despite this heinous act, professional first responders, medical volunteers from the American Red Cross that staffed the route, and Amateur Radio operators performed magnificently in the face of adversity.
“Within minutes, cell phone systems became overloaded and making phone calls and text messages was difficult. Amateur Radio operators performed communication duties under duress and performed admirably. No Amateur Radio volunteers were injured on the course in this terrible act,” said Steve Schwarm, W3EVE, who is the Amateur Radio Course Communication Coordinator and associated with a consortium of clubs and groups known as Marathon Amateur Radio Communications (MARC).
“At the finish line net control, which was only 400 feet from the initial blast, we heard the explosion. I poked my head outside to confirm what I thought it was and saw the white smoke. We immediately knew what had happened and commenced a roll call of all ham operators and medical tents. State Police authorities initially ordered us to lock down and post a ham for security watch outside the net control trailer. Thankfully none of our people were hurt,” said Paul Topolski, W1SEX, Amateur Radio Finish Line Coordinator.
Read by: RICK N9GRW
Following the explosion and roll call, Topolski stated that they began pulling together updates and sent the information via the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Web-EOC software tool and provided updates via Amateur Radio. Shortly after sending a few updates both Boston Police and Massachusetts State Police gave the order for the tent area to be evacuated. “In my mind, the course end of things is where a lot of work needed to happen as runners eventually needed to be stopped, congregated and transported to safety and staging areas,” Topolski said. “At the finish line, our job was to check on the safety of our people, provide those initial updates and evacuate per police instructions. Three of our Amateur Radio operators redeployed to the Boston Marathon Course Net Control Center.”
Across the course outside of the finish line after the bombings occurred, first aid stations were consolidated to larger first aid stations to pool runners for pickup and to keep runners warm as there were enhanced tents along the route where runners could be kept warm and hydrated. At the Heartbreak Hill first aid station, amateur operators had a complete base station setup, including a computer, and were prepared to handle health and welfare traffic as required. Several shelters were set up along the route at churches and schools, and Amateur Radio operators from secured first aid stations went to those shelters, providing communications in those areas until runners were moved out of their locations.
Read by: RANDY KJ4TFU
“My role at the request of Steve, W3EVE, as event organizer before the race was to shadow the course medical tent coordinator for the Red Cross, Kandi Finch,” said Rob Macedo, KD1CY, who is also the Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator. “It was a challenging position but all organizers on both the Amateur Radio side and Red Cross side said things went well in coordinating during normal race conditions and particularly after the bombings.”At course net control, which was away from the bombings, ham operators controlled their nets calmly and professionally while also expressing an appropriate level of urgency. Over a dozen amateurs at the net control center pooled together to announce messages and keep status of changes along the course route as required.Net Control Center Coordinator, Karen Brothers, K1KEB, kept in constant contact with MEMA, where Terry Stader, KA8SCP, was stationed. Stader became the MEMA ‘Ops’ point person at the State Emergency Operations Center as runners were transported from the shelters to other staging locations. From his location at the EOC, Stader was able to sort out the sheltering plan and reception centers for the runners, subsequent transport of runners from shelter locations and give out information on MBTA bus and train operations.Jim Palmer, KB1KQW — who served as a net control at the Net Control Center — stated that nets were doubled up on operators, to allow one person to operate the radio while the other listened and logged priority calls and ambulance requests, creating a more efficient operation. “Several ambulance requests for dehydration and exhaustion were handled due to the runners needing to be stopped,” Palmer said. The specific net that Palmer ran also provided a link between the marathon course and the American Red Cross in its Cambridge facility. Lou Harris, N1UEC; Frank O’Laughlin, WQ1O, and Dan Howard, K1DYO, staffed the Red Cross in Cambridge. Many amateur operators who volunteered along the marathon route praised Net Control’s support after the bombing. “Net Control did an awesome job,” said course volunteer David Wihl, KB1VEG. “The workload was busiest after seven hours on the radio, and it didn’t let up for another couple hours.”
Read by: NICKI KF4DHK
Several young radio amateurs from the Clay Center Amateur Radio Club also supported Net Control Operations, both as direct net control operators and runners for the operation as they have done in the past. This provided a tremendous learning opportunity for these young operators, from both an Amateur Radio perspective and an overall learning perspective.
“Despite the total lack of warning in this situation, amateurs followed a creed I’ve long since preached since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the mutual aid response to those attacks: ‘blessed are the flexible for they will not get bent out of shape,’” said Steve Schwarm, W3EVE. “Amateurs on the course did what they had to do to assure their own safety and runner safety working with the Red Cross medical people. They did an outstanding job and I was told so by Red Cross organizers as well.”
From an ARES perspective, a heightened state of awareness on the Boston Marathon event is typical, but within 15 minutes of the bombings, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator, Carl Aveni, N1FY, issued an ARES Stand-By and requested that amateurs give availability for the next 24 hours. Within minutes, 20 amateurs offered their availability.
The ARES sub-regional command center at the Acushnet, Massachusetts EOC (under call sign WA1EMA) was utilized as a control point to obtain critical situational awareness of the rapidly changing situation, as well as to monitor resource nets per a report filed by Acushnet Emergency Management Communications Officer Ed Caron, KA1RSY; he also serves as the South Shore Massachusetts ARES District Emergency Coordinator. A total of five Amateur Radio operators were deployed to this facility. An ARES resource net was called on the 147.18 Bridgewater repeater with Byron Piette, K1YCQ, as net control with 11 stations checking into the net.
“In terms of having amateurs within ARES who cannot get directly involved in the marathon, we have a process where we have them monitor in case of a situation like what occurred on Monday. That process paid off and facilitated a rapid response to our request for possible additional support,” said Carl Aveni, N1FY.
Some radio amateurs who volunteered in the Boston Marathon have posted their stories online.
EXPIRED! How to avoid losing your license
Read by: ED KE4JWS
The USA Callsign database contains about 750,000 listings and at any given moment, approximately 30,000 of these callsigns are expired! Over 1,000 old callsigns are returned to the unused pool each month!
The QRZ Expired Callsign Listings
These lists are updated daily to provide the latest information about callsigns that have expired, those which are about to expire and those that are about to be forfeited.
Callsigns that will expire within the next 30 days, by call area: Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area 4 Area 5 Area 6 Area 7 Area 8 Area 9 Area 0
Callsigns that have expired within the past 30 days, by call area:Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area 4 Area 5 Area 6 Area 7 Area 8 Area 9 Area 0
Callsigns that will be forfeited within the next 30 days, by call area:Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area 4 Area 5 Area 6 Area 7 Area 8 Area 9 Area 0
Read by: MARTHA KJ4RIQ
Did you know that: You may not transmit using an expired license. After a period of time, you might not be able to reinstate your privileges.Once your callsign is lost, anyone may apply for it under the vanity program
Disturbing, isn’t it? Here are the facts:Licenses are issued for 10 year terms. They may be renewed within 90 days of their expiration date (no sooner). On the date of expiration,your license becomes invalid and you may no longer transmit until your license is renewed.
If your license should expire before being renewed, the FCC allows for a two (2) year grace period during which you may renew your license with no loss of class or privileges. You may not transmit during the 2 year grace period.This period exists only to preserve your callsign and license class while awaiting renewal.
After the 2 year grace period expires, your license and old callsign is forfeited. You must re-test in order to get a new license. When the last day of the 2 year grace period passes,anybody can apply for your old callsign under the vanity callsign rules. To get your old callsign back, you must first take all of the necessary tests, wait for your new callsign to be issued, and then you can apply for your old callsign under the vanity program. If you’re lucky, it will not have been assigned to someone else yet.
Don’t let this happen to you!
QRZ Wants to Help! Every time your callsign is pulled up on the QRZ server, the system checks your license expiration date. If your callsign has expired, or is about to expire, the date will be shown in a blinking red color to help alert you. Once your callsign has been renewed, the date will stop blinking.
Read by: LARRY KC4ZOA
Music City Center Receives Certificate Of Occupancy NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville’s newest landmark has reached the final stretch.
The Music City Center received its Certificate of Occupancy from the Codes Department on Tuesday.
It means the new state-of-the-art building is in compliance with all rules and regulations.
It comes one week before the construction completion deadline, and three years after construction on the massive building began.
The official grand opening for the 2.1-million square foot convention center will be May 19-20.