Updated: Dec 27, 2020
The Number of SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotters and Emergency Communications Volunteers Doubles in Just Two Months and is About to Do it Again.
MERRIVILLE, Ind. (Dec. 5, 2020) – Interest in volunteering to help the National Weather Service (NWS), other governmental and non-governmental public safety and emergency management related organizations within the five-county geographical area served by Indiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) District 1 (D1) in Northwestern Indiana has increased following the resurrection of ARES D1 in late September.
“The number of volunteers becoming members has already doubled and is on course to do so again in the next two months, as word gets around that the group exists,” according to Joe Cirone, the coordinator of ARES D1.
“The volunteers have been out there. Some have been actively supporting the NWS with weather spotting observations and damage reports during periods of severe weather, under the NWS’ SKYWARN program. Others have been working to provide emergency communications to governmental organizations all the way up to the federal level,” said Cirone.
The lack of an organizational structure in the five-county area that was officially recognized by federal agencies and other organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army Disaster Services, TV, Radio, Internet, Satellite and Cellular communications providers, Public Safety Communications Officials, and others left the volunteers and others, who are would-be volunteers, without the support, coordination, and camaraderie they needed, wanted, and deserved, he said.
Cirone continued, “ARES D1 has the strong support, organization and nationwide network of like-minded people, all over the State and country. We do not need to go it alone. We know in an emergency, we will be able to communicate, even when other forms of communications fail. We specialize in getting emergency messages and severe weather observations and damage reports to the agencies that need them when normal and backup communications systems are overloaded, unreliable or unavailable.”
National Weather Service Honors Volunteers - SKYWARN Recognition Day
For Cirone and the other Amateur radio operator members of ARES D1, it was not lost on them that the National Weather Service declared today (December 5, 2020) as SKYWARN Recognition Day. The official recognition “celebrates the contributions that SKYWARN volunteers make to the NWS mission, and the protection of life and property. Amateur radio operators comprise a large percentage of the SKYWARN volunteers across the country. The Amateur radio operators also provide vital communication between the NWS and emergency management if normal communications become inoperative,” according to an official NWS statement.
SKYWARN and other Amateur radio volunteers participated throughout the day making contacts by two-way radio with their peers all over the nation on various radio frequencies as a contest activity to see which make the most contacts, as reported to the American Radio Relay League, which supports SKYWARN and administers the ARES program, nationwide.
Since the resurrection of ARES D1, the group has participated in two emergency exercises. One required the deployment and establishment of two-way radio systems in a Hobart, Ind. Park, using a picnic table to rest two laptop computer sized
High-Frequency radios and a lithium battery to power them, and some cable connecting them to field expedient (easily deployed/setup) antennas, including one using 17-feet of aluminum tent pole held together by a bungee cord and supported by a 4-foot-tall camera tripod. The other radio was connected to a thin (14-gage) wire strung between two tripods.
The other exercise, held in mid-November, was focused on the transmission of an American Red Cross Incident Command System message form which contained specific information required by the nationwide exercise’s designers, and sent via ARES or Ham radio software to one of seven Red Cross Divisional Centers in the nation. ARES D1 was instructed to send its message form to the Central U.S. center, as it could be requested to do so by the Merriville, Ind. based Northwest Chapter, which serves the ARES D1 geographical area and 11 additional counties.
ARES D1 welcomes all people interested in volunteering to help support its mission on behalf of the public and the greater good. Details for membership can be found on the group’s website located at https://www.aresd1.com.
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