Volunteers Providing Emergency Communications for Multnomah County, Oregon

Featured Member Profile: Garrett AF7RF

I grew up in Klamath Falls. My grandfather was an electrician and fostered in me a fascination with all things electrical. I studied electronics all four years in high school. Remember vacuum tubes? I took a shot at a degree in electronic engineering at OSU, but discovered I hated engineering.

I was working for ODOT at Government Camp in 1983. We were using CB radios but couldn’t get around the mountain. We needed more power, so the crew and I got ham radio licenses.

I started my electrical apprenticeship in 1990, was teaching the program by 1993, and got my journeyman license in 1994. In 1998, I became a Master Electrician and got certified as an electrical inspector. By this time I was working on traffic signals for ODOT in Portland. I went to the Bridge Shop in 1999. I started working with County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and in 2006 I was one of the first in the area to become a COM-L. I tried for years to learn Morse Code so I could get my General ticket but, dang it, I just couldn’t learn CW. As soon as they dropped the code requirement, I got my General and then six months later my Extra Class ticket.

I became the ARES Deputy EC in 2010. I retired as Multnomah County Senior Bridge Inspector last year. I am still employed part-time with Multnomah County Emergency Management as their COM-L and Amateur Radio Coordinator.

I have been married to my lovely lady, Meri, for over 40 years now. We have two kids. Brittany got her English degree at PSU, is married and lives in Portland. Spencer earned his master’s in music at Juilliard and is an opera tenor headed to Zurich, Switzerland with the young artist program.

Northwest Traffic and Training Net

The Northwest Traffic and Training Net (NTTN) provides daily practice in handling formal written traffic. Every evening of the year the NTTN meets on the linked repeaters of the Western Oregon Radio Club (WORC) at 18:05. The frequencies are 145.27, 145.43, 145.47, 146.80, and 443.150 MHz all with a tone of 107.2 Hz.

Message handling is the main thing we as ARES operators do for our served agencies and it is imperative that we do it accurately and efficiently. One can learn a lot by listening to this net, and even more by participating. Since it is a training net, you will find that everyone on the net is supportive of new traffic handlers. All ARES members are strongly encouraged to participate in this net as often as possible. While the net only deals with National Traffic System (NTS) formatted traffic, the underlying protocol and skills also apply to other types of formal traffic, such as ICS 213.

Leadership Meeting Recap

Garret has been working with the state to get the Red Card issues resolved. As of right now, there is no way to do that. So, we are working with Joe Rizzi, Multnomah County Emergency Manager, to come up with our own credentialing cards. These will be recognized in Multnomah County and reflect completion of ICS 100, 200 and 700, and a background check. We will keep you informed of progress in this endeavor.

Featured Member Profile: Robert WX5TEX

I grew up in a small dusty town outside of Lubbock, Texas. Growing up out there, my dad and several other family members were on the Lubbock Fire Department and that must be where my interest in emergency response grew up. Most of my memories from growing up out there revolved around the incredible thunderstorms and tornadoes we frequently had. As a firefighter, my dad would often have to go out to give field reports as my mom and I huddled indoors. In fact, my earliest memory is of the time I was playing outside with our next door neighbor, and suddenly running inside to tell my mother that the “sky didn’t look right” only to have our house directly hit by a tornado seconds later.

A couple years later, my dad bought me an electronic experiment set, which included instructions for building your own AM receiver. To be able to put together a few parts and be able to pick up radio signals blew my mind, and I spent my teenage years trying to pick up radio signals from greater and greater distances.

Fast forward to 1997, when I started college in Dallas, Texas. My best friend and I decided we wanted to start chasing and photographing storms, particularly lightning and tornadoes. After risking our lives doing that for a couple of years, I learned about the NWS Skywarn program. I couldn’t sign up fast enough, so in 2000, I studied for two weeks and got my ham radio license and joined the South Plains Storm Spotting team. This team was unique in that we covered 19 counties in West Texas, and along with working directly with the National Weather Service, we also worked with the Severe Storm Research teams at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State University, and several local TV stations.

About a year later, after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, a couple members of the city council came to our ham radio club and asked us to put together the first ARES group in West Texas, which I was honored to assist in doing.

Eventually, I moved up to Oregon and due to the lack of exciting storms, my activity level in ham radio drastically diminished, until last year when my schedule finally provided me the time to dedicate to the Multnomah ARES unit. I am excited and honored to be working with a team of people that are so well organized, dynamic, and awesome in order to provide the county & state with what I consider one of the top ARES teams in the US!

Outside of ham radio, I am currently trying to finish a communications degree at PSU and am in the process of restarting my photography business. I also do security consulting, risk and threat assessments, and a little executive protection. I love camping, shooting, and am excited to announce that my wife and I are expecting our first child this fall.

Membership News

I hope you will join me in welcoming our newest member, Bob, KG7EWT. Congratulations to Ann, KF7RBV on her upgrade to General Class License.

In an effort to get to know each other better, we would like to feature one member in every newsletter. Nate has given us his contribution in his From the EC’s Desk column. You will see Robert WX5TEX featured this month as well. If you would like to send us your contribution, we would love to have it. You can send it to newsletter [at] multnomahares [dot] org. You can also send pictures and anything else you want to share in the newsletter.

I would like to remind everyone to keep me updated of any email address or phone number change. You can email me at dprovo [at] yahoo [dot] com.

From the EC’s Desk

Hello fellow ARES members,

I would like to take this opportunity to relay my appreciation for all of your work in making ARES work. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences. I really am happy with the organization we are building, and feel that our ability to attract a diverse group of communicators is a boon to our community.

To fill you all in about my background as an amateur radio operator, I have been a ham since 1993. My middle school had an amateur radio club as an after school activity, and during the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years, I passed my tech no-code exam. At that time, a separate code test was required for 10m privileges, which I passed in the same year. So, I am indeed one of the crotchety hams who had to take the code test. ;)

Looking through my online logbook the other day, I came across the first 10 meter contact I made on my school’s HF rig. It had been backfilled by the other ham, so it wasn’t just a figment of my jittery mic-handed imagination. I barely remember the apprehension I had during my early contacts, so for those of you who are recently licensed, I encourage you to get as much mic time and operating experience as possible. Any nervousness you have now will fade quickly with experience.

ARES Activities in Recent Weather Event

Thanks to all those who assisted and stood by to assist with ARES radio operations February 6, 7, and 8 during the snow and ice. We operated radio nets in support of the National Weather Service on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, we stood by to assist the County EOC, but fortunately were not needed. Again, thanks to all those that stand ready to assist with their communications skills in the event of an emergency.

Training & Certification News

We have state approval of our training plan! The program is getting its big kick start at the February meeting. We will be working in our teams to check off as many items as possible in our effort to get all members ARRO (ARES/RACES Radio Operator) certified. Bring your hand held radio, manual, cheat sheet if you have one, and your 24-hour go-kit to the Meeting on February 27! The go-kit for this meeting should have the basic items you would need if you were to be deployed for 24 hours. This should include a radio (HT or mobile), power supply (car battery or extra batteries works), food and water, and any personal items you will need to be totally self-sufficient for 24 hours. You do not need to bring bedding.

If you are not on a team, come prepared anyway and we will get you into a work group. If you don’t have a portable radio, you will be working with the orange go-kit supplied to our group by Multnomah County Emergency Management.

The March meeting will be a hands-on traffic handling workshop. Participating in these two meetings will get most members very close to ARRO certification.

Remember to submit your ICS class completion certificates if you haven’t already done so! These are needed for ARRO certifications. You can bring copies to a meeting, or email them to Deb at dprovo [at] yahoo [dot] com. Contact Eli at eliza [dot] pride [at] gmail [dot] com if you need information on how to take these free on-line classes.

Membership News

I hope you will join me in welcoming two new members, Marino KG7EMV and Steve KG7SRH. Steve is affiliated with the Oregon Red Cross and is now a member of our Red Cross Team. Marino has been active on the nightly NTS Net. I look forward to meeting both of these fellows.

I would like to remind everyone to please keep me updated should your email or phone number change.

From the EC’s Desk

We are hitting the ground running for 2014 with the January 25 exercise. We will be testing a new Life Safety Net in coordination with the BOEC 911 Call Center staff. We will also be providing net control for the PBEM NET/BEECN portion of the exercise and exchanging traffic on the Command Net with our served agencies. All ARES operators will first check into the Resource Net and Check out there when their portion of the drill is over.

Multnomah County Emergency Management has purchased 14 headsets and 7 splitters to be distributed to our served agencies. We have also received an orange “Kent” Go-Kit for our use for exercises and training. This kit includes a Yeasu FT-7800 dual band radio, power supply, tripod and Comet Superbeam mobile antenna along with all the cables, connectors, etc.

Garrett AF7RF has been working hard to untangle the Red Card issue with Oregon Emergency Management. A lost batch of cards has been found and Garrett should have them at the January meeting.

We have acquired the use of a new repeater from Amateur Radio Relay Group (ARRG) which owns and operates the K7RPT repeater system. I am working on a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). The frequency is 147.040 + (100.0 Hz tone).

Portland Amateur Radio Club, Hoodview Amateur Radio Club, and ARRG are all very generous in granting us the use of their repeaters. I encourage all of you to support these clubs with your membership and/or contributions. It takes a lot of time, effort and cash to maintain these repeaters, and the clubs are deserving or our support.

I hope to see you at the January 23 meeting.