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Bridgewater EOC ARES Net Control Headquarters

Democratic National Convention 2004

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Gil W1GMF~John N1PYN~Mike W1MPN

Carl N1FY~Bruce NI1X~Rob KD1CY
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Herb KC1ZW EOC Director

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Allan K1VQ

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Mark KC1ML George KC1FZ~Bob K1RB Allan K1VQ~Jeff N1ZZN


By Bruce Hayden, NI1X

The Eastern Massachusetts Section of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was requested to provide amateur radio emergency communication support for the Red Cross Chapters in Boston and Waltham during the week of the Democratic National Convention. ARES amateur radio operators were also on standby to provide emergency communication if needed for the Salvation Army and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Local HAM Carl Aveni N1FY of Brockton - President of the Massasoit Amateur Radio Association and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service District Emergency Coordinator (ARES-DEC) for Plymouth County directed the effort. He was asked to set up a Net Control Command Center and coordinate the Net Control activities at the Bridgewater Emergency Operations Center (EOC) with additional amateur radio operators stationed at Red Cross Boston and Red Cross Waltham. Carl N1FY made himself available to coordinate and supervised the volunteer crew at the Bridgewater EOC from 8 am until midnight - Monday through Thursday - and from 8 AM through closing on Friday afternoon. If you had questions, Carl had the answers.

Carl reported that we have Herb Lemon KC1ZW, the Bridgewater Emergency Management Agency Director and member of the Town of Bridgewater Board of Selectman, to thank for his support in allowing the ARES team to utilize the fully equipped Town of Bridgewater Emergency Operations Center.

Assisting Carl cover this three shift operation were Gil Follett W1GMF of Abington; Phil MacNamara, N1XTB of Middleboro; John Mahon, N1PYM, of Brockton; Allan Cox Jr., K1VQ, of Mansfield; Mark Loring, KC1ML, of Plymouth; and Whitman Club members Bruce Hayden, NI1X; Bob Burns, K1RB; Jeff Lehmann N1ZZN; George Davis KC1FZ; and Roy Logan KB1CYV.

Allan K1VQ volunteered his services at both Red Cross Waltham and the Bridgewater EOC. Gil W1GMF spent many hours manning the PACKET Radio and Echo Link. Phil N1XTB found time to investigate and evaluate the condition the several battery backup systems and started to convert all rigs to the interchangeable Anderson Power Pole connectors. Over the week we found equipment that worked well and other equipment that required repair or needed to be upgraded. In addition, with the large number of people involved there were security procedures tested to authenticate messages and operators, a very interesting procedure.

Other amateur radio operators were heard accessing the New England NET via Echolink utilizing only their home computers. A New England NET roll call was conducted every other hour so as not to conflict with the Bridgewater Emergency Operation Center 2M roll call.

Along with monitoring about 10 individual frequencies with a combination of handheld, mobile and Base Station transceivers, the crew also monitored the TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention along with the Boston Police frequency and other Boston Emergency Services.

Mark Loring, KC1ML, shows us just how close his home station is to the Plymouth Nuclear Power Plant which is located at the center of the red wind direction arrow. Mark was asked to stand by as a home station and take over as SKYWARN Net Control during the week of the Democratic National Convention while the regular SKYWARN Net Control operators were busy at the Bridgewater EOC.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) leadership spent considerable time at the Bridgewater Emergency Operations Center as part of their rounds that included the Boston and Waltham Red Cross headquarters and the City of Boston Emergency Operations Center. Visiting the Bridgewater Emergency Operations Center were Mike Neilson, W1MPN, of Hudson - the ARES Eastern Massachusetts (EMA) Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), Rob Macedo KD1CY of New Bedford - the ARES EMA Deputy Section Emergency Coordinator and SKYWARN Coordinator along with Mark Duff, KB1EKN, of Hingham - the ARES Metro Boston District Emergency Coordinator. They reported that this volunteer effort, which stretched over a five day period, was greatly appreciated and has made us ready for the real thing, be it a future hurricane or local emergency.

Carl, N1FY, had challenged his Emergency Response volunteers to treat this as an opportunity to further develop their emergency communication skills through on-air practice as Net Control and by originating and sending agency status messages by amateur radio using voice over amateur radio transceivers, packet radio (using computer & radio) and Echolink (using computers and the internet).

Carl also reported that, more importantly, we demonstrated our ability to work with a number of Public Service agencies that included the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, MARS, MEMA and various Emergency Operations Centers (EOC's) in Eastern Massachusetts by conducting a Net roll call up every two hours and utilizing proper NET management procedures including going off frequency to pass traffic and developing a working relationship that will hopefully go far beyond this singular event. This call up also included numerous individual home support stations. If something had happened, this support would have been expanded to include good old-fashioned point to point communication between designated Red Cross evacuation shelters, vehicles going to and from the shelters and the Red Cross Chapter houses.

In conclusion, the Staff feels that the total operation of the event was handled in a very professional manner and would like to thank all the people that participated willing and able to handle any communication needs that might have arisen. The dedication by the people involved was tremendous and the desire and ability to work together shows that Amateur Radio Operators and served agencies can get the job done.