After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the ARRL asked for volunteers. They were relaying the request from the American Red Cross. I wanted to volunteer, but I lacked all the requirements. I never used WinLink and I haven’t done much HF work. In fact the only HF work I’ve done was at Field Day 2 years ago. Though I am familiar with the National Traffic System and have even successfully sent traffic to the West coast, and got a response back through NTS. But my experience wasn’t good enough, so I thought I’d fix that.
TL;DR: Read Personal Emergency Communications (links below the fold), by Andrew Baze. It was good book.
Pros: It was well thought out, and taught me a few things I didn’t previously know. It also gave me some ideas of where to fix my own emergency planning, outside of communications and introduced me to things I didn’t have in the last power outage I went through.
Cons: It is a little dated, and I would really like to see an update to some sections. Such as eXRS and scanners.
The information is still great. It gets someone thinking about comms and how they matter. A lot of what is discussed here, could easily be carried over in to non-emergency situations and improve company communications during cyber incidents. Especially focusing the items in the first section of the book, such as knowing who to call, and having a calling clock as to when to call them.
Read below for a more in-depth review
To level up, I decided to buy some books related to Emergency Communications and Public Service. The first two I have read through are by Andrew Baze. Both these books are about Personal Emergency Communication. My thought was to start small, and move up to bigger.
The first book I read, seems like the second one he wrote on the topic, based on the publication date. Personal Emergency Communications: Staying in Touch Post-Disaster: Technology, Gear and Planning. In my opinion, this was the better of the two books. It covers a lot of things, in a build up fashion.
The book is broken up in to 6 sections, and each one builds off the next.
- Determine what you need
- Listening strategies
- Communicating in both directions
- Amateur Radio
- More important tools
- Recommendations, roundup, and appendices.
Throughout the book, each chapter starts with a small fictional story of a disaster happening and what the people in the story did. Like the father after the earthquake walking to his child’s day care. The neighbor rushing to his elderly neighbor during a winter power outage. The topic covered in the chapter plays a part of the short story. Like in the case of the winter power outage, using FRS/GMRS to contact the elderly neighbor and know she needed help in a blizzard.
The first section is all about preparation. It covers knowing who to contact and when. It provides the questions to ask and the author provides electronic templates on his site to build out what to do when problems strike.
The second section is all about providing sources for getting information in the event of something happening. Yes, most of us turn to the internet, but what if there is no power? I had this problem during an Ice Storm earlier this year. We were without electricity for over 24 hours. I actually bought a wind up radio / flash light to use next time that happens. That one will be moved to non-emergency gear status, used for camping hiking and what not, after I get another one that includes shortwave.
Section three covers different types of two way communication and the downside to each. Topics covered include FRS/GMRS radios, CB radios, High Frequency Spread Spectrum (eXRS) (though eXRS seems to be no longer an option), Personal Locators, and Sat Phones.
Section four covers Amateur radio. It’s the king of emergency comms, and the book explains why. This chapter taught me about a few options I didn’t know about for HF, and gives me an option to try and run some HF where I currently live (where I can’t put up an antenna).
Section five is about having E-power options, practiced skills, more thought out plans, and being useful to the community.
The last section covers a lot of what was already covered. It tells you where things were discussed has more information on where to get more training and other general resources.
As I said above the fold, it was a good book and worth reading.