Tornadoes, radios and chickens

How the world can change so quickly. This time last week we were waking up in a new darkness, preparing to launch a major recovery effort after the largest tornado outbreak in recorded history. The time to prepare has passed, it was time to deploy our skills as communicators and information coordinators, and provide the community with our support.

Over the last week our Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) has provided such support to dozens of relief organizations under the umbrella of the Volunteer Organizations Active in  Disasters (VOAD). To name just a few: The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the N.Alabama Medical Reserve Corps, the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) … and other groups distributing supplies and manpower all across our county. This has been accomplished by the individual and collective efforts of hundreds of ham radio operators who can do more than talk on the radio. They can think and act. And they have done so in such a show of power that I am tremendously proud to be in their company. The ARES group here organizes and trains for exactly this sort of thing, and while there are always hitches and complications, we were well prepared in my opinion. There is always a core group that provides leadership and motivation for such an organization, and I am proud to have been a part of that team of Emergency Coordinators.

Madison County ARES EC - K4RGG

Rolf Goedhart - K4RGG at the Anderson Hills Command Post

Rolf Goedhart – K4RGG is our Emergency Coordinator for Madison County, and has served in that capacity since before I came to town 5 years ago. He has also recently completed the naturalization process and is proud to now also be a U.S. Citizen. We all benefit from his wisdom and leadership in our ARES organization. Thank you Rolf.!.

Another of our members I want to call out is Steve Conklin – AI4QR. Conducting a flow of information during extreme events can be challenging and frustrating, but as our Net Control Operator during the tornadoes last Wednesday evening Steve kept his cool, and did an admirable job. He even managed to capture some of the live audio and has made it available for review. This is a large file, best to save it to your local computer before starting the playback. Audio recording from Madison County Emergency Net, Apr 27 2011. Steve has a great overview of what all has been happening, on his blog

Steve also reminds us of a training exercise we did a few years back. As a part of that simulation, we reported a derailed railroad car that had unfortunately released hundreds of chickens. We tasked a Boy Scout group with the challenge of how to collect the chickens, and they formulated a table-top response which would include borrowing a truck/trailer to contain the re-captured chickens. Steve shares this link to a story from the LA Times, regarding tornado chickens in Alabama.

Train like it is the real thing, and when the real thing comes around
– you’re trained and ready for it.
Thanks to everyone . . . we are making progress.    /;^)


One response to “Tornadoes, radios and chickens

  1. Thanks Alan, it’s nice to see photos from the stations I didn’t visit. I agree that Rolf deserved great kudos, for the tears of effort that led to the level of preparation that we had.

    Steve AI4QR

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