Monday, December 21, 2015

CERT Net Control Training on Search and Rescue (SAR)

The Bedford, New Hampshire Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) (http://www.bedfordnhcert.org) includes members trained as ham radio operators. To be a ham radio operator a person must pass an Amateur License exam conducted by the Federal Communications Commission Universal Licensing System.  Upon passing the Operator Technician exam a person receives their unique call sign, such as KC1BJI.

An amateur radio net, or simply ham net, is an “on-the-air” gathering of amateur radio operators. Most nets convene on a regular schedule and specific frequency, and are organized for a particular purpose,  such as the Bedford CERT hams use a directed net to maintain and practice their radio communication skills. A formal, or directed net, has a single net control station (NCS) that manages its operation for a given session. The NCS operator calls the net to order at its designated start time, periodically calls for participants to join, listens for them to answer (or check in ) keeps track of the roster of stations for that particular net session, and generally orchestrates the operation of the net.

Tonight I was the NCS person under the tutelage of Ric, Communications Officer of Bedford CERT.

Each week's agenda has a check-in with each person using their Federal Communication Commission assigned call sign.  They also identify the type of power used (such as fixed station commercial power, fixed station emergency power, mobile or Handheld).  Announcements and training education are part of this exercise.  The announcements are items of interest to the CERT members (for example upcoming CERT training sessions and meetings).

Tonight's training session was conducted by Steve.  The training focused on two related search and rescue (SAR) topics of particular importance in rural New Hampshire:
  1. The Hiker Responsibility Code 
  2. Ten Essentials of Hiking
The Hiker Responsibility Code, was developed in 2003 as a joint program between the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG)The Hiker Responsibility Code was needed when the number of WMNF search and rescue occurrences were increasing because of negligence and ignorance on the part of wilderness hikers.  The costs of air searches and rescues, along with the safety risk to SAR volunteers, were unacceptable.

The Hiker responsibility code is intended to ensure that hikers are equipped with the gear, knowledge and experience they need to have a safe journey into the wilderness.

Knowing the Hiker Responsibility Code and the essential equipment and knowledge (Ten Essentials of Hiking) may save your life in the wilderness, it could also save you being charged thousands of dollars for YOUR search and rescue.  The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is authorized to sell voluntary Hike Safe Cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards are not liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued due to negligence on their part in the wilderness. The card is valuable for anyone hiking, paddling, cross country skiing or engaging in other outdoor recreation. An individual may still be liable for response expenses if they are deemed to have recklessly or to have intentionally created a situation requiring an emergency response.

People who possess a current New Hampshire Fish and Game hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, are already exempt from repaying rescue costs due to negligence.


Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code
(http://hikesafe.com/)
You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:
  1. With knowledge and gear. Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
  2. To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.
  3. To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
  4. To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.
  5. For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
  6. To share the hiker code with others.
Voluntary Hike Safe cards are available at http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/safe/index.html.

Ten + 2 Essentials when Hiking
1. Map
2. Compass
3. Warm Clothing
4. Extra Food and Water
5. Flashlight or headlamp
6. Matches/fire starters
7. First aid kit/repair kit
8. Whistle
9. Rain/wind gear
10. Pocket knife
11. Contractor type 40- gallon trash bags
12. Duct tape
Notice the above Ten + 2.  Most discussions deal with the ten essentials to carry, but personally, I also carry two trash bags and duct tape.

The below two White Mountain National Forest signs say it all when it comes to relating the Hiker Responsibility Code and the Ten Essentials.


For those interested in more Search and Rescue information, see my Blog post Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Search and Rescue Training http://tiny.cc/wa8e7x,

KC1BJI.  73 (e.g. "73" is hamspeak for "best regards" when signing off).






References

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"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

My fifth book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is available Feb 2016 and can be ordered by clicking  OutdoorSteve.comOutdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book will be great to motivate friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. If you want 5 or more books signed, send me an email and we can work out the logistics. Amazon has a special where you can order the paperbook and the e-book comes free! Hmm, use the paperbook for bathroom reading – and the ebook as a reference book with links for on-line references, places to go, and videos for bucket list musts!   http://www.amazon.com/dp/098503842X or https://www.createspace.com/5725742



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