The ARRL released their after-action report on the 2017 hurricane season. Click here to download the pdf. (11MB file) This is actually a bunch of separate reports glommed together, so it doesn’t read very smoothly. Much of it does not get into very good detail on what went wrong and what could be improved, but it looks like they spent more time on that at the ARRL level rather than the responder level.
From the Puerto Rico response, what amateur radio equipment did you need but not have?
Items mentioned included electrical tape/duct tape, volt-ohm meter, cable ties, SO-239 connectors, insulators, soldering iron, 50′ runs of coax and barrel connectors, mini mag-mount VHF/UHF antenna, VHF/UHF J-pole antenna, compass, headset with boom mic and footswitch, extension cords, power strips, hook-up wire, wire strippers, end-fed antenna, cheat sheets for radios.
From the Puerto Rico response, what did you add to your kit and where did you get it?
Generally, additional equipment was acquired through the Red Cross, FEMA, fire stations, local radio amateurs, or home improvement stores. Items acquired were left with the Red Cross in San Juan. Items included: Extension cords, antenna wire, car battery, hex nuts (used as weights for antennas), rope, notepads, pens, markers, electrical tape, crimpers, wire connectors, pulleys, shackle, slingshot, power strip, coax seal, HP OfficeJet printer, printer paper, headphones, batteries, terminals, PVC pipe, hose clamps, tape measure, power inverter.The key observations offered on lessons learned included (Puerto Rico):
- Clearer chain of command
- ARRL representation at the staging point
- Deployable VHF repeaters
- Better screening of volunteers
- Screen out those who have no experience in Amateur Radio disaster communications
- Screen out those who have no experience in the needed forms of communications
- Factor in personality to the screening process; some personalities are not suitable for such deployments
- ARRL needs to provide education to Red Cross on the capabilities of Amateur Radio
- ARRL representative on site during deployment (at JFO/EOC)
- Form a national response cadre that is pre-screened for deployments such as this
- Smaller and lighter Ham Aid kits
- Encourage radio amateurs to volunteer with Red Cross Disaster Services Technology
- Language was a barrier; being bilingual is important
- Clearly defined list of capabilities of all deployed volunteers
- Substantive pre-deployment briefing
- Substantive debriefing
- Better net structureWhat do we need to change? (Irma and Maria)
- Radios worked well. Possibly replace Icom IC-7200s with IC-7300s for consistency and ease of use.
- Make sure every radio is digital-capable, with all needed cables and accessories.
- Vetting process.
- Improve training, especially with digital communications.
- Multiple band antennas or several antennas for individual bands.