AFTER ACTION DEBRIEF
Yesterday members of the Red River Valley Amateur Radio Club (RRVARC) joined members of the Fannin County Amateur Radio Club (FCARC) and performed communications support for the Bonham Area Chamber of Commerce and their “Autumn in Bonham” bike rally. It was very similar to, but smaller than, our Tour de Paris support effort.
Our participants were Kim Ledbetter (KI5VLH) driving a pickup truck loaned to the effort by Paris Chevrolet GMC, Mel Toye (K5KEY), Leo Salas (N5JEP), Cliff Leath (KI5OPP) and myself. As with TDP, we were either running “Support and Gear” (SAG) or stationed at rest stops along the route. Unlike TDP, none of our people were at the Chamber running net control. Those functions were provided by FCARC personnel.
Our people met at the Chamber of Commerce at about 0700 and Cliff followed the last rider the ten miles back to town from Rest Stop 8, which was the final stop for the 100 mile route, arriving there at about 1700.
I am of the opinion that this effort was highly beneficial in a number of ways. I was personally compelled to add frequencies and tones to my Yaesu FTM-400 and Kenwood TH-D74 and add frequencies and tones and modify APRS operator call signs in Kathy’s TH-D74, which Kim used. Ask yourself this question – When was the last time you did that in the field and without Chirp and a cable? If you can’t remember when you did any of that last then you too could have benefited through participation. Practicing full use of your gear will help you to be prepared for emergency use if you ever are of a need to. Additionally, I have long been of the opinion that RRVARC and FCARC had some synergies where it would make sense if we pooled our resources at times. Bike rally’s are a great example. Their club was short-handed and asked for our assistance and we came through.
Participation rant on: If you are thin-skinned or bristle at feeling lectured to, please do not read this next section. We came through, albeit with only five people out of 54 full members and 150 email recipients. Our low participation rate always amazes and very much disappoints me. Sure, health issues, other commitments, having to work; those are all legitimate reasons to not participate. But why do some never participate in any of our activities? Club member and ARRL NTX Section Manager Steven Lott Smith (KG5VK) tells me that our participation rate is at or even slightly above that of other clubs he interacts with…but I think our participation rate should be an embarrassment to all of us. If you think five of our Club members responding to a request for assistance that went out to 150 total recipients is acceptable, then you have pretty low standards and expectations of our Club and its membership. Put another way, if you ever have an emergency and make a radio call for assistance I sure hope you have better success than our overall participation rate indicates. Please folks, get with it and start involving yourself in our activities. Be a participant and not just an observer. Participation rant off.
Another proof of concept was validated yesterday. People without APRS built into their radio successfully used APRS beaconing from their smart phone. If you had pulled up APRS.fi and centered it on Fannin County you would have seen a lot of activity. Watching the stream of beacons going into Bonham yesterday morning was quite entertaining.
This morning I received the following email from Keith Mumaw (KI5VNL) the FCARC rally coordinator:
I want to thank everyone in the Fannin Club and the Red River Club who came out yesterday to help with communications for the bike ride. It was a great success and an outstanding way to show the community just how valuable Ham Radio is and can be in times of need.
I’m looking forward to our meeting this month, with the continuation of the “Radio Go-Bag” concept and would like to invite the Red River Club to come out as well.
We will be meeting at Coffee Mill Lake recreation area on October 21st, so get ready for some fun.
Overall I think the our participation in this event was very much a positive. Next year I think we should extend an early invitation to their club to help us with TDP. I also think we should extend an early offer to again help with their rally if there is one.
Finally, the last couple of years I have gone to the FCARC fall preparedness expo get together at Lake Crockett. Charles Penry (WA5VHU) was there last year and came over to Kathy and my place afterwards. I plan to go to their October 21st “Radio Go-Bag” meeting and hope some of our other Club members will join me there. If you decide to go please let me know.
Phillip Beall (W5EBC)
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Phillip Beall. Reason: Corrected date for Go-Bag meeting