WMØG: “Emergency Communications”

photo of Jack Ciaccia, WM0GBy Jack Ciaccia, WMØG
ARRL New England Division Assistant Director
Emergency Communications & Public Service

I was recently appointed by Fred, AB1OC, to help the many amateur radio EmComm organizations in New England. My charter includes ARES, traffic handling, SKYWARN, RACES, and Public Service organizations. The plan is to:

  • Encourage participation in EmComm & Public Service activities
  • Encourage the development and sharing of Training Programs
  • Encourage developing and sharing resource contact information, training data, and
    preparedness exercise information.
  • Provide for publicizing these programs across the division and the ARRL.

First, some credentials: I am a New Englander, born in Rhode Island, and educated in RI and England. I’m a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran. After the Air Force, Sanders Associates hired me as an Electronic Countermeasures technical representative. Later, I worked for GTE/Sylvania, where we developed the first bar code reading systems. We lived in Nashua, New Hampshire before I made a career move and relocated my family to Colorado in 1983. I worked in the electronics industry as a sales and marketing executive for major electronics manufacturers and as the General Manager of a worldwide electronics distributor. Later, I started my business as president and owner of a custom power supply design and manufacturing company and later as a manufacturers representative for many well-known electronic companies. I retired in 2018. We decided to move back to Nashua in 2020.

I’m an Extra-Class ham with w/20 wpm code, and I’ve been a ham since I was a teenager in 1957 when I got my original Novice call sign, KN1IVY. I have emergency communications experience from my previous ARES and ARRL positions in Colorado. I was president of the Boulder Amateur Radio Club for ten years. I was Emergency Coordinator for Boulder County ARES for over ten years and a member of that organization for thirty-five years. I was appointed Assistant Section Manager for two years and then Colorado Section Manager for nine years. As the EC and as SM, during that time, I coordinated and participated in over twenty-five major wildfire events and the 2013 flood that paralyzed the Front Range of the Rockies. So, like James Taylor sang, “I’ve Seen Fire, and I’ve Seen Rain.”

I also helped create three new laws in the State of Colorado along with my SEC/SGL and Colorado state legislators from both sides. On behalf of Colorado hams, the State adopted PRB-1 as a rule for ham radio antenna ordinances to the cities and counties. Another was an amendment to a proposed law to exempt rural ham radio towers from being painted red and white according to a new FAA regulation on behalf of crop dusting aircraft that was meant for the temporary gas and oil exploration towers—and we got another amendment exempting ham radio operators from the law prohibiting the use of handheld devices in moving vehicles.

We also created Colorado Auxcomm, which gave our ARES leaders positions within the Colorado Division of Public Safety and the Colorado Department of Homeland Security. Within the law, there’s a provision for any participating Auxcomm or ARES members to be covered under Colorado State workman’s compensation for any injury incurred during any emergency- related event, including training exercises. That law also protects those hams from liability and torts in the event of any accident they might be responsible for during an emergency or practice.

Here is something I wrote a few years ago concerning the future of ARES:

ARES, as we know it, is changing dynamically and will continue to do so in the coming years. Our served agencies will continue to define our organization, mission, and purpose, and our future will depend on our mission capabilities and operators’ training, qualifications, and credentials.

It used to be that all you had to do in an emergency was to be a Good Samaritan ham radio operator with a handi-talkie on your belt, show up at the EOC and get assigned to assist with some communication needs – pretty simple. And they usually did a good job! Why was that? Because our served agencies had radios and a communications system that typically needed more flexibility and interoperability to communicate in multi-agency or multi-location events.

What changed? The first big answer to that is that 9/11 happened. Ham radio played a huge role in maintaining communication in a nightmarish interoperability scenario when the typical telephone and land mobile system infrastructure was either gone or overloaded. Federal, State, and local agencies said radio interoperability issues and land-based communication systems constructed on vast and complex communications infrastructures for our first responders would have to change, which made the guys with the “bat-wings” smile a lot. These new systems would create a need for more modern communications devices, creating more “bat-wing” smiles. What else happened? Hurricane Katrina happened – same issues as with 9/11. Then the Haiti earthquake occurred – more of the same problems, but even worse, complicated by the lack of a structured communication system.

So, what happened? In both cases, ham radio was integral in getting some communications up and running when the existing infrastructure was gone or overloaded. The onslaught of multiple agencies arrived at these disasters with interoperability issues, further exasperating the glaring weaknesses of the old or non-existent communication systems.

The Government poured a massive amount of $$$ into the problem. The $$$ went to DHS, FEMA, State EOCs, and others. Eventually, some of this $$$ even found its way to local ARES groups in a splendid example of the “trickle down” theory. But now that those ARES groups accepted the Federal or State $$$, Guess what? The agencies where the $$$ came from have defined the new rules that those ARES groups will play under from here on out.

How does that affect ARES? More reliable communication systems are available today to our served agencies. With just a handi-talkie on his belt, that Good Samaritan ham is now useless to them. The EOCs and the OEMs want and expect radio operators trained and credentialed. The modern ARES ham will have ICS and NIMS certifications, provide valued skills, possess modern radio equipment, and have accessibility to modes and frequencies that our served agencies cannot access.

The new requirements will cause a paradigm shift in how ARES members train and respond. Do you remember the large VHF /UHF repeater groups that provided Autopatch capability to hams? And do you remember what happened to their membership numbers once the cell phone became omnipresent? The ARES groups that adapt and conform to these changes will survive and thrive. The others that refuse to change may go the way of the Dodo Bird.

In a Related Issue:

Attention PIOs: ARES needs good press. What’s so crucial about Public Relations? It gives us CPR – Community Recognition, Protection, and Recruitment. When we do something good, or people we’re associated with are doing something good, we like to have it recognized. One of the reasons amateur radio exists is to provide service to the public. A positive perception of amateur radio translates into allies and helps build support for us among neighbors, educators, corporate leaders, and government officials.

WM0G Public Service article


Boulder Co Sherrif's Office commendation to Boulder Co. ARES (WM0G)

FEMA Award

Rhode Island May 2023 Section News

Bob Beaudet, W1YRCRhode Island Section Manager Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC, writes:

Greetings ARRL members and friends:

May is a special month in the Amateur radio calendar. In addition to normally nice weather, it marks the start of sporadic E openings. Our friends down south see May as the start of the active tornado season but here in New England, we see it as better antenna weather and the “get ready” month for Field Day which is only a few weeks away.

ARRL sent out a survey recently asking questions about a dues increase and your views about it. If you filled it out and submitted it, thank you but if not, please do so. It is important and will only take a few minutes of your time. Surveys must be completed by May 31st.

Dayton Hamvention takes place this coming weekend. 33,000 of your best friends will be there. If you’re going, best advice I can give is to hang on tightly to your plastic cards. Temptation to exercise them will be everywhere.

HF band conditions are improving slowly. Six meters opened for a short while to tease us. I managed to snag one new entity. Watch the bands, they are improving. Read about stormy geomagnetic space weather at https://www.space.com/sun-reverse-sunspot-auroras-supercharge. Are you puzzled by the SFI, K and A indexes? You aren’t alone. G3YWX explains them in a 2002 QST article. See Understanding Solar Indices (arrl.org).

As of this writing on May 16th, I do not know if I have been re-elected or Nancy Austin, KC1NEK was elected to replace me. Either way, I thank you for your trust and support. You did vote, didn’t you?

FCC’s ruling on RF exposure takes effect May 3, 2021 with a two year transition period was implemented to allow existing amateur licensees to conduct evaluations and make any changes necessary to ensure that their station complies with the exposure rules. On May 3, 2023, the transition period ended. All licensees must now conduct evaluations of their current station and reassess compliance when making changes to their stations that would affect exposure going forward. An on-line calculator is available so you can determine your compliance. Go to ARRL Helps Radio Amateurs Comply with New RF Exposure Evaluation Rules and select http://www.arrl.org/rf-exposure to access the tools. Chances are good that you are compliant but you must check according to the FCC ruling.

ARRL publishes monthly magazines to address special interests of new hams, more advanced hams and contesters. QEX, NCJ, and On The Air are available in digital format on the www.arrl.org website. New hams in particular find On The Air very useful since it usually targets topics that are most interesting to them.

Members of the Blackstone Valley ARC participated in a Business Expo hosted by the Bellingham, MA Public Library on April 29th. Most of the exhibits were commercial and aimed at business in the community, Amateur radio captured a great deal attention. The club attracted several new members including a 14-yea-old who already holds a Technician license and wants to work lots of countries. His mother seemed fairly interested herself asking if any women are members of the club. The normal BVARC area includes northern RI and the border communities of MA to the north and east. So, setting up an exhibit over the state line in Bellingham is quite normal.

Field Day is June 24-25. As your Section Manager, if I am re-elected, I shall try to visit your Field Day site. The Field Day locator shows a location for four groups. I shall try to visit each of these groups on Saturday, June 24th. Good luck to all, including those who choose to operate from their comfortable air conditioned ham shacks.

Thanks and 73,

ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC

ARRL Member Survey, Dues Increase Considered

ARRL logoDear ARRL Affiliated Club,

This Monday, May 1, ARRL will launch a survey for members, encouraging their participation as we consider a dues increase.

The survey will include some short questions about raising dues and modifying the way some membership benefits are bundled. The survey will also include an opportunity for members to share their feedback.

The participation of every member is important. 
Please encourage all the ARRL members in your radio club to complete the survey in May.

The survey will open on May 1 at
 www.arrl.org/take-dues-survey. This is a member-only page. Members need to be logged into the ARRL website to take the survey. Members who are not logged in may select the Login button on the top of the web page, and they will be prompted to enter their ARRL website username and password. If they have not logged in since April 2022, they should use these Login Instructions.

Thank you in advance for urging all ARRL members to complete the survey.


Mike Walters, W8ZY

ARRL Field Services Manager

Revised NH ARRL Website Needs Your Pictures

One of the goals of the New Hampshire ARRL field organization is to promote Amateur Radio. This includes sharing the accomplishments, capabilities and interests of both New Hampshire individuals and clubs to those outside of Amateur Radio.

We are in the process of revising the New Hampshire Section website (www.NHRADIO.org) and we need your help.

There is nothing better to spark interest in our hobby than through photos of hams in action. With this goal in mind, I am calling on individuals and clubs to submit digital photos for possible use as page backgrounds or to be highlighted in our photo gallery. We have created a way to easily upload your photos. Go to this link…


The photos must be appropriate for publication and should “tell a story at first glance.” We are especially interested in action photos, but all pictures of Ham Radio activities are welcome for consideration. We will give credit to the photographer or the person/club who submitted the picture. Please only submit pictures that you took, or that you have permission from the photographer to submit.

Have an original story to tell along with your photo? You should direct it to Al Shuman at akshuman@comcast.net.

ARRL New Hampshire Section
Section Manager: Peter J Stohrer, W1FEA

New Assistant Director for EmComm and Public Service: Jack Ciaccia, WMØG

photo of Jack Ciaccia, WM0G
Jack Ciaccia, WMØG

I’d like to welcome Jack Ciaccia, WMØG, as our new Assistant Director for Emergency Communications and Public Service. Jack brings a great deal of experience in emergency communications, and as a former as an ARRL Section Manager, club president and more. You can learn more about Jack’s background and experience at https://nediv.arrl.org/leadership/. Jack will take on the work of leading the NE-ECAPS group effective immediately.

I’d like to thank Cory Golub, KU1U, for all of the work that he has done as New England Assistant Director for EmComm and Public Service over the past 14 ½ months. Cory has done great work in establishing the NE-ECAPS group and has brought together a dedicated group of EmComm and public service folks here in New England to share ideas and best practices.

Best and 73, 

Fred Kemmerer,  AB1OC

(603) 413-5400

Mail: ab1oc@arrl.org

ARRL New England Division Director

Rhode Island March 2023 Activity Report

Greetings ARRL members and friends:

We’re on Daylight Savings Time now and have more daylight every day.  We haven’t had much of a winter. And only now as I’m typing this, we’re expecting some heavy wet snow. Of course, if we get any, it won’t last or amount to very much. 

For the first time in the 21 years I have served you as Section Manager, I am facing an opponent for re-election. This year, Nancy Austin KC1NEK is also running. She is currently president of the Newport County Radio Club. Obviously, I cannot suggest anything relative to the election other than to encourage you all to vote when ARRL sends you a ballot.  Please make your selection and return your ballot to ARRL as soon as possible. Best advice is to fill out your ballot as soon as you receive it so it isn’t lost or mixed with your junk mail or bills. Then mail it back to ARRL right away in the envelope provided. Thank you. 

HF propagation is beginning to show good signs. So, if you haven’t been on the air very much, I can tell you that you have missed some really good openings in the last few weeks. Six meters is starting to show activity also. Just yesterday, a station in Falkland Islands and several in South America were working stations up and down the east coast of US. It will only get better from here. 

Weather has been reasonable this winter, so if you have been putting off some necessary antenna work, you have no excuse linked to the poor weather. Be careful, however. If you’re a senior citizen like me, please don’t think that you can still climb trees, tall ladders, get on your roof and do other risky antenna work. Yes, we want the antenna to be as high as possible but please get it there safely. Someone at ARRL said long ago that if your antenna didn’t come down over the winter, it wasn’t big enough. I guess that’s the tipping point. 

The Volunteers on The Air (VOTA) program is creeping along steadily.  Every day, I see stations on 20 and 40 meters calling CQ VOTA. I always try to work them in order to give them the Section Manager’s 175 points. I totally love the fact that VOTA is encouraging folks to get on the air. Far too many fellow hams are inactive on the air. Some use 2 meter repeaters but as you know, I consider this similar to using a wireless intercom and not radio. When was the last time that you made an honest HF contact? So long ago that you can’t remember? I know some hams who have never made a contact on the air and been licensed for many years. I can’t help but wonder why they bothered to get a license. 

I can easily remember back in the dark ages when my first license, a Novice ticket arrived in that small FCC envelope. I literally ran from the mailbox to where I had set up my shack in my parent’s home. I was 14 years old and could hardly wait to call CQ on 80 meters. That was June, 1953 and the thrill of working distant stations hasn’t left to this day.  

Sadly, some folks taking their exams now are doing it only to see if they can pass the test. Some simply want another line on their resume to help their job search. 

We have nearly 800,000 licensed hams in the US. I suppose we should be happy that they all don’t get on any band at the same time and call CQ. What a mess it would be. 

Amateur radio is the greatest hobby that we have in this world, in my humble opinion. I’ve held W1YRC for 70 years and hope to do so for several more. Ham radio has been a perfect fit for me. Many agree but others prefer messaging on their cell phone or just sending e-mail. Has ham radio become obsolete? 

That question is as silly as asking if fishing or baseball has outlived its appeal. Anyone who actually thinks so doesn’t understand what the thrill is of radiating a signal to someone many miles away by using a radio that you built and can hold in the palm of your hand or an antenna that you made out of scrap wire with no connection with to Internet or telephone lines. 

Like baseball or fishing, the appeal is inherent within the occupation itself. One cannot cast a line or swing a bat without feeling joy in your heart and pure love for the feeling. It’s therapeutic to slowly tune the bands looking for weak signals before others find them. 

I feel no thrill when I dial my telephone. However, the feeling that I felt at age 14 is still loud and clear today when I call CQ. Where is my signal being heard? Who will respond to me? Will it be someone on the opposite side of the earth? That million dollar feeling doesn’t cost very much, other than the relatively small initial acquisition price of the radio. I just don’t have the same feeling of reward or accomplishment when I dial a phone or send a text message. I’m very happy that I hold a ham ticket. I know that special feeling very well and feel privileged. 

Our licenses expire every ten years. Do you know the expiration date of your license? Check it or look yourself up on QRZ.com. I regularly hear about someone whose license expired many months ago and he didn’t realize it. No one will send you a reminder when your license needs renewal. The process is simple and may be done entirely on line, but you absolutely must do it. Don’t let your license expire. You worked hard to get it, so don’t lose it by forgetting to renew it. As an ARRL member, the good folks in Newington or I will be happy to help you if you have any difficulty in the renewal process.    

I want to wish you a happy springtime and good DXing. Enjoy every day on the air. 

ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC