PACKET RADIO: Notes from the '89 CA Earthquake
Steve Wolf, W8IZ@W8IZ
(This text from the W8IZ packet radio bulletin
board. It's formatted to fit a 80 character screen.)
OTHER COMMUNICATIONS GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY ARES/RACES C/O KAYE 764 LISBOA WALNUT CREEK, CA 94598 ALAMEDA COUNTY RACES C/O ANDERSON 3546 QUAIL AVE CASTRO VALLEY, CA 94546 NORTHERN ALAMEDA COUNTY ARES C/O LIEF 1390 QUEENS RD BERKELEY, CA 94708 SACRAMENTO COUNTY RACES C/O RESHKE 6910 21ST ST SACRAMENTO, CA 95822 LIVERMORE ARES/RACES C/O KANE 3679 CANELLI COURT PLEASANTON, CA 94566 ADC ASSOCIATES P.O. BOX 541 RICHMOND, CA 94805 REACT OF THE GOLDEN GATE AREA P.O. BOX 563 SAN BRUNO, CA 94066 MISSION PEAK R.E.A.C.T C/O HARWOOD 4585 DARCELLE DR UNION CITY, CA 94587 NORTH. CALIF. CONTEST CLUB C/O W6RGG 18655 SHEFFIELD RD CASTRO VALLEY, CA 94546 CALIFORNIA EXPLORER SEARCH & RESCUE 354 PARROTT DR. SAN MATEO, CA 94402 COMMANDER MARK CHARBONNEAU DIRECTOR OF AUXILIARY 11 TH DISTRICT NORTHERN AREA USCG COAST GUARD ISLAND ALAMEDA CA 94501 ABIGAIL WAGG C/O CMDR MARK CHARBONNEAU " DARLENE FAIRBANKS " " WILLIAM FAIRBANKS " " PAUL BRIGHT " " JOHN ROBINSON " " ALAN MATTHEWS " " LOIS JACKSON " " LYNN LOUDEN " " ROBERT ENRICO " " IRENE BROWN " " RALPH BROWN " " ALAN GABRIEL " " DON BRADY " " DONNA WOOD " " HELEN LOUDEN " " PAUL FERGUSON " " TRON MILLER " " LIBBY MILLER " " PAUL PANZL " " SUSAN ZIKA " " DEAN LEATHERMAN " " GENE FREDERICKS " " DOROTHY FLEISIG " " PHIL FLEISIG " " TOM HARRELL " " (THE IMMEDIATELY ABOVE WERE COMM VOLUNTEERS FROM THE USCG AUXILIARY 11TH DIST) US COAST GUARD AUX DIV 2 C/O EARNEST JORN 1205 MELVILLE SQ #210 RICHMOND, 94804 US COAST GUARD AUX DIV 9 C/O JAMES LUCAS 4245 KNOLL AV OAKLAND, CA 94619 US COAST GUARD AUX DIV 3 C/O ROBERT J BENTON 5255 FERNWOOD WAY SACTO, CA 95841 US COAST GUARD AUX DIV 10 C/O DOROTHY L FLEISIG P.O. BOX 297 TRACY, CA 95376 JAMES VAN FLEET 862-2070 2955 KILKARE RD SUNOL, CA 94586 STEPHEN THORNTON 1700 MINOR AVE SAN PABLO, CA 94806 ROBERT METZ P. O. BOX 2318 SAN LEANDRO, CA 94577 DILLY WELCH 5979 MAJESTIC AVE OAKLAND, CA 94605 LESTER CHEW 2266 FILBERT ST SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 BILL MUMFORD 136 SAN FELIPE AVE SAN BRUNO, CA 94066 KENNETH KNOPP II 316 HALYARD LANE FOSTER CITY, CA 94404 EARL EVANS 4141 DEEP CREEK RD SPACE 193 FREMONT, CA 94555
STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE EAST BAY AMATEUR RADIO CLUB AND THE EAST BAY CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS
** FOREWORD **
The AMERICAN RED CROSS, henceforth known as ARC, chapters are responsible for establishing, coordinating and maintaining continuity of communications during disaster/relief operations whenever normal communication channels have been disrupted and/or overloaded.
The EAST BAY CHAPTER of the ARC, henceforth known as EAST BAY ARC, is the local Official Representative of ARC.
The AMERICAN RADIO RELAY LEAGUE, INC., henceforth known as ARRL, sponsors the AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY SERVICE, henceforth known as ARES, which is entrusted to implement the cooperation delineated by the STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE ARRL, INC. AND THE ARC, according to ARC # 2213, rev. August, 1982, section VII.
The EAST BAY AMATEUR RADIO CLUB, henceforth known as EBARC, is an affiliated ARRL amateur radio club and is the primary sponsor for the WEST CONTRA COSTA COUNTY AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY SERVICE, henceforth known as WCC ARES. WCC ARES is the local Official Representative of the ARRL's ARES.
The ARRL and the ARC have had cooperative Statements of Understanding on a national basis since 1940.
** PURPOSE **
The purpose of this statement is to unambiguously state and define the EAST BAY ARC's and EBARC's local mutual responsibilities and purposes so that the commitment to long term continuity of cooperation may permit a more dedicated effort in the present and in the future.
** METHOD OF COOPERATION **
-- EBARC --
EBARC recognizes that the EAST BAY ARC has a primary role to perform during disaster/relief operations for the benefit of the community and our fellow citizens. To this end, EBARC pledges support, as manpower and resources permit, to WCC ARES in the form of trained amateur radio operators, amateur radio equipment and amateur radio communication services in order to aid in both intra and inter-chapter communications needs of the EAST BAY ARC. In addition, WCC ARES will attempt to provide communications, as manpower and resources permit, for the EAST BAY ARC to local Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs), the County Offices of Emergency Services (OES), Region II OES, State OES (Sacramento), local hospitals, Alameda/Contra Costa Bloodbank, Salvation Army, ARC Shelters, and any other relevant communication points, if so requested.
** METHOD OF COOPERATION ** -- EBARC (cont'd) --
EBARC will do all that it can to help recruit amateur radio operators and other volunteers who will meet the radio communication needs of EAST BAY ARC's Disaster Services Committee.
EBARC will furnish and install amateur radio communication equipment at the Richmond Service Center's Annex "B" communication room and insure that it is maintained in good working order. Such equipment shall remain the property of EBARC, unless so transfered by written contract.
EBARC shall maintain GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE at the sum of not less than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) per occurance/aggregate. EBARC will maintain equipment insurance for fire, theft, vandalism, etc, and will not hold EAST BAY ARC financially responsible, if such an incident should occur.
EBARC shall maintain the communication room in Richmond Service Center's Annex "B" in a clean and orderly manner.
EBARC shall provide an EMERGENCY COORDINATOR or a duly appointed representative to attend all EAST BAY ARC's Disaster Communication Committee meetings.
EBARC will cooperate with EAST BAY ARC in all disaster tests, if so requested.
EBARC shall be allowed keys and access to their equipment through certain " Key Coordinators " agreed upon by EBARC and EAST BAY ARC.
EBARC activities such as meetings, tests and maintenance, etc, shall be coordinated in advance with the Richmond Service Center staff so that there will not be conflicts with, or interference to, other scheduled EAST BAY ARC activities in Richnond Service Center's Annex "B".
EBARC will supply an updated roster, upon request, to EAST BAY ARC's Communication Chairperson.
-- EAST BAY ARC --
EAST BAY ARC recognizes EBARC as the primary sponsor of WCC ARES and allows EBARC the use of Richmond Service Center's communication room in Annex "B" to set up and operate amateur radio communication equipment, store relevant supplies, hold meetings, tests and other functions as long as such activities do not conflict and/or interfere with EAST BAY ARC's prescheduled Annex "B"s activities. Any damages caused to the premises by EBARC will be the responsibility of EBARC.
EAST BAY ARC recognizes the importance of amateur radio emergency communications during times of commercial communication breakdowns and/or overload conditions that most often accompany disasters.
** METHOD OF COOPERATION ** -- EAST BAY ARC (cont'd) --
EAST BAY ARC understands and recognizes the need to have in place, prior to the time of a disaster/relief operations, a fully functional amateur radio communication station, including outside antennas, in order to fulfill the essential communication needs of EAST BAY ARC's Disaster Services Committee.
EAST BAY ARC will allow EBARC to establish and maintain adequate amateur radio antennas at the Richmond Service Center as long as inconveniences, conflicts or interferences do not occur.
EAST BAY ARC will not attempt to operate, damage or destroy EBARC's amateur radio equipment, supplies, antenna system, cables or any other equipment installed or stored at or connected to the Richmond Service Center's Annex "B" communication room. If such equipment, supplies, antennas or cables must be temporarily removed for reasons of building maintenance or another valid reason, the Richmond Service Center manager, or another duly authorized agent of EAST BAY ARC, will give adequate notification to the president, or another duly authorized agent, of EBARC in order to facilitate the safe relocation of said equipment, antennas, cables or supplies.
EAST BAY ARC will, at no time, require members of EBARC to undergo ARC training as a necessary condition for this Statement of Understanding. EAST BAY ARC may, however, provide information regarding ARC's programs and training classes to members of EBARC and encourage members of EBARC to participate.
EAST BAY ARC expects that EBARC will ensure that WCC ARES will provide an adequate activation methodology by EAST BAY ARC's Emergency Services Director, or another duly authorized agent, so that amateur radio operators will be available, in a timely manner, during disasters and/or disaster drills.
IF AT ANY TIME, EITHER EAST BAY ARC OR EBARC NO LONGER FEELS THAT THE OTHER IS ACTING RESPONSIBLY WITH REGARDS TO THIS STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING, BOTH PARTIES SHALL MAKE ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM SO THAT BOTH VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS MAY BEST BE ABLE TO MEET THEIR HUMAN SERVICE COMMITMENTS AND OBJECTIVES IN TIMES OF DISASTER AND/OR NEED.
SIGNATURES OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE EAST BAY AMATEUR RADIO CLUB AND THE EAST BAY CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS WILL BE FOUND ON PAGE FOUR OF THIS STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING. SIGNATURES OF PARTICIPANTS
______________________________________ _______ CHAPTER MANAGER DATE EAST BAY ARC
______________________________________ _______ EMERGENCY SERVICES DIRECTOR DATE EAST BAY ARC
______________________________________ _______ CHAIRPERSON DATE DISASTER SERVICES COMMITTEE EAST BAY ARC
______________________________________ _______ CHAIRPERSON DATE COMMUNICATION SUB-COMMITTEE DISASTER SERVICES COMMITTEE EAST BAY ARC
______________________________________ _______ PRESIDENT DATE EBARC
______________________________________ _______ CHAIRPERSON DATE CLUB STATION COMMITTEE EBARC
______________________________________ _______ MANAGER DATE CLUB STATION - ANNEX "B" EBARC
______________________________________ _______ EMERGENCY COORDINATOR DATE W.C.C. ARES/RACES EBARC
File saved <A1-20> 29 active, 14 killed, 7 for NI6A  > From : WA6AEO @ WA6AEO.#NOCAL.CA.USA.NA To : NI6A.CA.USA.NA Date : 900405/1740 Msgid : PY 102@WA6AEO, 24@W6CUS $102_WA6AEO Subject : PACKET MEETING NOTES Path : W6PW!N6VV!WA6AEO
Notes on Packet Radio Committee meeting held March 16, 1990. Included are ideas discussed, as well as suggestions that were made. This is intended to provide food for thought for our next meeting, planned for late April or early May.
1. Relating to controversey seen in non-County packet bulletins, it is the policy of our Committee that all Emergency Communications handled over Packet Radio should use the regular system - not a system set up for emergencies only. This to ensure the system is fully operational and tested for any such events.
2. Tactical designator's should be a part of our planning and operation. This could make the job of prior designation of operating locations easier. It will also enable the same call/designator to be used for an entire event, regardless of operator changes.
3. We need to document what our system is capable of. a. It can be determined what we can be used for by first looking at our capabilities, even someone in local government could do this. b. Other areas can do the same. Documentation of this sort can be coalesced and plans can be made for ties between areas as well aiding wide-area agencies such as State OES to develop their plans to suit the packet system as a whole. c. Documentation will also allow us internally to develop plans surrounding existing resources, bring new leadership people up to speed faster, and help us to target weak areas for im- provement or additional resources.
4. We need user documentation. Not to say that anyone with no exper- ience could operate our system successfully, but some sort of attempt needs to be made to have some instructions and system documentation available as reference at least.
5. We must have ongoing training within the RACES community on packet operation. They must have equipment ready for field/portable use. They must be familiar with it's hook-up and operation, especially such things as BBS message capturing, file uploading/downloading, and more.
6. We need to develop a plan on paper for the use of the WP server at N6VV, how are we going to keep track of who is where in some sort of automated fashion.
7. Do we want to utilize any other server's to do any other task that Packet could be well suited? Who is going to develop (write the program) the server program?
8. We need to document how the center's with a BBS are going to be operated, especially in regards to export of messages to printer and file importing for access to the packet mail messaging sys- tem.
9. What is our Plan in summary so that we can represent it to the for- ming NCXPN Committee for RACES/ARES?
10. What do we want to accomplish in the new NCXPN committee?
11. Bottom Line : we need more plans set in concrete so that when our next opportunity comes Packet will be utilized!
MessageİId: <5503@wn6i> From: n6mwd@wn6i (Sharon Moerner N6MWD (BBS: N6MWD@KB6OWT, TCP: n6mwd@wn6i)) ReplyİTo: n6mwd@kb6owt To: qst%allca@k3mc Subject: Loma Prieta Earthquake
TO: Interested Radio Amateurs FROM: N6MWD (@K3MC) DATE: 16 January 1990 RE: Recommendations from the Earthquake
After the Loma Prieta Earthquake (17 October 1989), several critiques were held discussing the role of amateur radio in the relief efforts. Based on the critiques, the written material from the SVECS newsletter, and the material from the Emergency Response Institute, the following represents a compilation of the recommendations made.
(Since this material represents items from a variety of sources, they do not necessarily reflect my personal views.)
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH EQUIPMENT/PHYSICAL LAYOUT
hams should be kept aware of the current field requirements before accepting a field assignment use simple to operate radios for all primary functions all equipment must be tested and ready to operate at all times HF equipment must have a broadİband antenna (10-80 M) separate power supplies must be available for each 12 volt equipment setup each power supply must be capable of running more than one setup, if necessary cables with plugs in the line must be permanently installed and be interchangeable extra antennas, with permanently installed cables, preferably broadband (discone type) should be available for all band operations need officeİtype chairs for each operating position physical & acoustic barriers between operating positions are needed a water marker/grease board should be provided at each position to show status of all activity on the frequency being used (which call at which site, shelter, etc.) a board should be assigned to show status of overall operations computer must have turnİkey software for all operations, packet, work processing, etc.
We need SIMPLE to use forms to log resource needs and reports install grabİbars at strategic locations to hand onto during EARTHQUAKE and aftershocks! double check antenna drops for efficiency and continuing proper working conditions
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH HEALTH AND WELFARE TRAFFIC H&W concerns should have been addressed more pointedly as an important interface with the public after first few days, communications are essentially performed by commercial services againİİhams can play an important role by handling H&W operators at shelters could originate some traffic without impacting their primary purpose packet radio is tailor made for dealing with concerns re: written traffic and H&W; packet turned out to be the most efficient means of delivering H&W traffic
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH INTERAGENCY COMMUNICATION
communications provided were absolutely essential, but not always the radio kind it would have helped if more coordination and planning between Red Cross Chapters were to occur before, not during, an event preİarrange nets before the disaster (e.g., set up nets with agencies such as hospitals, Salvation Army, etc.)
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH JAMMERS develop contingency plans to cope with frequency jammers get organized T- hunters in your area
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP OFFICIALS confusing to hams in the field to see a "leader" not doing leadership roles so clarify who is in charge managers need to make decisions with consultation of those in the field when ECs ask for mutual aid, they need to accept level of guidance from DEC and staff above in order to get the big picture we should accept the fact that a small number of highly trained individuals will become the teachers/leaders for the rest ECs should monitor other ECsİİdon't turn off your radio just because your city isn't affected identify before a disaster a list of people able to serve as supervisors or managers (they are often leadership folks, but not always)İİit is necessary to rotate managers through shifts in order to avoid overtaxing any particular individual supervisors should oversee an entire operation during a particular shiftİŞsomeone focusing on the overall operation can see what portion can be terminated (and how), which projects are problem areas, and ensure coordination between projects those overseeing the operation must also consult with, or be in touch with, those on the lineİİpeople working in the field are often more aware than management of issues such as under/overstaffing, equipment needs, etc., but the information provided by those working in the field must be balanced with the views of those more distant to the operation people don't have to like each other in order to work with each otherİİparties with disagreements should wait until after the disaster to resolve them since it is likely that the strain of being involved in the disaster is affecting their perceptions if disagreements are interfering with the running of the operation and the parties involved can not reach resolution on their own, then leadership must help them devise a solution (it may be shortİterm) with the good of the group or the operation in mind include more than ECs and AECs in decision making before the disaster such as OES, repeater sponsors, etc.
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE ROLE OF PACKET
put out QSTs on packet about what frequencies are being used for H&W, for Resource, for Tactical, etc. put out QSTs on packet in the form of status updates hard to decipher manuals for packet during a disasterİİhave drills involving packet with other people's system cities need more information about our skillsİİstatistical information desired by many cities would have been great to go via packet on a preİset form ARES/Data would have been useful for keeping track of personnel and resources set up a packet network at all EOCs, RC Chapters, and other key locationsİİshould operate 24 hours/day network would operate with dedicated computers, software, printers, TNCs, radios, and antennasİİmost would have emergency power a standard needs to be written such that each location will have the same familiar equipment for ease of operation by a variety of Ops software should be written to provide printed messages automatically, w/o operator intervention when we have such a network running, we can let it run itself to a large extent, thus saving our Ops for duty on the critical voice nets much of the time and hassle of setting up and debugging a packet network would be avoided if the packet hardware was in place and ready to go at all times in an emergency, we can make good use of written message traffic in addition to the function that ARES/Data provides packet is wonderfully adapted to handling very high volumes of H&W during emergencies, but probably should be used for tactical information handling we must have more drills using packet packet has definite use in a disaster mode but we need to better determine the time that it should be put into effect there should be "universal" software in an AUTOEXEC.BAT file for "idiotİproof" setup there should be battery powered laptop computers, TNCs (TAPR II only), and transceivers (cables are essential) a perfect portable packet station will have a 12V plainİpaper printer connected using standard 8.5" x 11" paper BB, a multiple connect bulletin board, could be used for tactical message traffic
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE USE OF REPEATERS/RADIOS we need more emergency repeaters put into the field the use of portable repeater systems would allow us to put a repeater back on the air in a shorter period of time need a back up battery at repeater sites confirm that the area where the radios are located in EOC are attached to the building's backup generator maybe have MOU with other repeater groups so other groups understand what/how we do stuff in a disaster the ability of the amateur community to respond to these events lies in separating repeater sites enough so that several might survive another quake
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH RESOURCE NET CONTROL
we need to train members to keep mouth shut unless reporting serious injury after earthquake say three things at beginning of netİİurge ARES members to follow city emergency plan, encourage all to go to city simplex frequency, and do damage assessment survey around your area after checking that you are safe resource net control or resource manager should give a status QST on the hour, cutting back to even numbered hours as traffic decreasesİİthe subject is ham radio resource needs, not broadcast news imperative that a resource net is activated and that other high level repeaters should be canvassed for their availability either give Resource Net Control a back up person or designate someone else to periodically go out on various repeaters to announce resource needs and the frequency to which volunteers should tune each operation must make sure to designate a couple of hams to go out periodically on some of the repeaters to give a status update on conditions prepare a grid sheet before a disaster that enables a Resource Net Control to fill in the blanksİİmarked it off into time slots, with numbered blank lines on which to put names and phone numbers of the volunteers, and with space for any additional information
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH OBTAINING/DISTRIBUTING
RESOURCES better coordination of housing for hams coming out of area needed may need two hams at each stationİİone to serve as runner and one to serve as the hamİİyet some complained that two hams were overkill if hams knew where they were going, equipment needs could be defined don't "roll over" hams without telling resourceİİif hams are staying another shift, tell resource if using 220 as tactical, helpful to have resource with a 220 frequency available so novices can volunteer hams should be provided to commercial radio stations operating the Emergency Broadcast system hams should be provided to power company's corporation yard dispatch and local water company's dispatch hams should be provided to schools if the disaster strikes during class hours EC pulling telephone tree should be given specifics about what is needed in terms of resources a shadow should be dispatched to USGS to pass crucial informationİİmay or may not be used by the cities but those in the mountains of the area are very dependent upon information concerning aftershocks, slides, etc. anytime a request is made for hams, the party accepting the request must clarify what the job entailsİİrequesting resources means defining what is needed in terms of equipment, clothing, and time hams should be told to bring whatever is known to be required and to meet in a staging areaİİan onİscene coordinator will then make specific assignments during a shift after he/she sees what is available
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH USE OF TACTICAL CALLS use tactical calls and ID with ham call only when needed to fulfill license requirements
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH TERMINATION OF OPERATION
need disengagement plan right after crises beginsİİneed to plan this rather than waiting until we're tired resumption of electrical and telephone service should be one of the first factors that tell us it is time to go home
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH HANDLING TRAFFIC
written traffic is quite necessary as we often deal with bureaucraciesİİverbal messages are sometimes ignored a very simple message form (preferably provided by the agency served) would be extremely helpful message received time is important lots of rumors going aroundİİoccasional truthful QSTs would help we need more drills involving passing traffic
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH TRAINING THE UNTRAINED
the untrained can be useful but should be placed, if possible, in lower stress situations or in a position where they can receive some on the job training the untrained can be used as you go along, but put only trained ARES personnel in high visibility positions establish the practice of having hams check in at a staging area for assignment and briefing prior to responding to their assignmentİİthis provides a consistent briefing and eases the difficulty of making assignments to the many hams who responding keep with you your repeater frequencies, control codes, rosters, handbooks, upİtoİdate list of city simplex frequencies/hospital net frequencies, upİtoİdate ID cards, your city emergency plans, and maps for your area
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNED WITH TURNOVER (SHIFT CHANGE)
need missing links between shift changesİİneed enough time for shifts to do turnover or for a supervisor to give the information out to each new shift change relief should be present at least 30 minutes before shift ends in order to do turnover
**** SECTION A: INTRODUCTION ****
The October 1989 Earthquake Communication's Effort - East Bay Style "Well it could have been worse. We were really very lucky!"
The East Bay Chapter of the Red Cross covers Alameda County in its entirety and West Contra Costa County. It is the result of the merger of the Berkeley/West Contra Costa County Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC) Key Resource Center (KRC) and the Oakland/South Alameda County ARC KRC which occurred in the Spring of 1988 forming a new chapter of approximately 1.5 million people (the largest single chapter in North of Los Angeles. The major cities being Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, Richmond, Livermore in descending population order followed by 17 other smaller cities.
The topography is mostly hilly (peaks exceeding 2000 feet are numerous, numerous valleys, including dams and reservoirs, lakes, creeks, Bay, the Carquinez straights, numerous bridges, nuclear laboratories (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, Scandia Corporation), numerous bio-engineering facilities, numerous major Interstate Highways, and numerous hazardous chemical facilities. Contra Costa County highways for instance handle the third highest volume of hazardous chemicals in the entire the United States possessing and or adjacent to an unprecedented amount of oil refineries, chemical research facilities, pesticide, herbicide, paint, and allied chemical facilities. Radio communications is especially difficult in hilly terrain and there exists no extant single radio repeater capable of linking the entire chapter together on one frequency.
The Hayward earthquake fault runs through the entire East Bay Chapter all the way through Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond. Parts of the chapter are located within 20 miles from the San Andreas fault. The Chapter disaster plan includes procedures for dealing with floods, hazardous chemical spills, fires, earthquakes, etc. In the past 20 years there has been no major disasters although the great floods in the winter of 1981-82 did mandate B/WCC to open up two shelters which were closed the next day. Recently most of our drills and activities have been associated with chemical spills and evacuations in the highway 80/880 corridor. Highway 80 ends at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (which was rendered severely damaged during the October Quake). The Cypress structure which collapsed killing approximately 40 and injuring many more is the major connecting artery between highway 80 and highway 880 and is actually the beginning of highway 880 in Oakland.
Although the largest peacetime disaster in the Bay Area since 1906 (Not counting the 1944 Port Chicago Explosion which killed nearly 1000 people), we were lucky as we were afforded many luxuries such as having a 95% functioning telephone exchange and also commercial power to 90% of the chapter territory immediately after the quake.
The only major highways that failed were the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge and the Cypress Interstate 80 to Hwy 880 interchange. Other transportation arteries were for the most part left functioning except for short time closures for inspections thus allowing for the expediting of volunteers and supplies.
The East Bay also had the luxury that not more than 8 shelters and/or reception centers were open simultaneously, and that all operations sites were within 12 miles of each other (Central/West/North Oakland and Berkeley). In other words, the strain on the Red Cross's ability to function could have been much worse. In addition we are fortunate that the Bay area is a major metropolitan area with many available trained nurses, volunteers, food, and emergency resources which, although were not all pre- planned for, were expedited during the disaster.
The purpose of this critique is to identify weaknesses and suggest ways that we can be better prepared in the future. No attempt has been made, implicit or otherwise, to demean any one individual or group who participated, as it will be noted that almost everyone who helped did so without pay and with no ulterior motives except in the spirit of helping one's neighbor (often with significant personal sacrifice).
Some General Operations Statistics
Thirteen shelters were opened during the period (some more than once). Six separate shelter locations in Berkeley (Berkeley North Senior Center, Berkeley Adult School, Martin Luther King Recreation Center, Willard High School, Berkeley Service Center). The Oakland Shelters were Bunce School, Martin Luther King Middle School, Oakland High School, Oakland Technical High School, Laney College, Claremont School, Lowell Elementary School. In addition, other operations and communication's sites were the Emergency Operating Center at Oakland Red Cross, the Oakland Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) feeding station at Cyprus and 18th, Taylor Memorial Church Family Services Counseling Center, Scottish Rites Church Feeding Center/kitchen, Concordia School Operations Center, City of Oakland Emergency Operating Center, The Richmond Red Cross Communications Resource Center, the Alameda County Office of Emergency Services Headquarters in San Leandro all at one time or another having received radio communications assistance via amateur radio and/or Red Cross radio.
Even into the fourth week after the quake, there were still 4 shelters open, sleeping over 500 people and feeding approximately 7000 meals per day. Damage assessment was finally completed in the third week. Already over 1200 families have applied for Red Cross assistance through the Red Cross Family Services assistance program, most of whom are seeking permanent shelter and other assistance. Over 100 separate buildings have been officially declared destroyed. This total exceeds that of San Francisco or Los Gatos and makes the East Bay Red Cross effort the largest in the Bay Area.
This was a major National Disaster from the point of view of the National Red Cross and the Federal Government. Unusually, damage was spotty sparing most neighborhoods and cities from major damage and in some cases causing only slight inconvenience. However because of the unique characteristics of earthquake travel, soil conditions, and older building codes, etc., the damage areas were unpredictable and in many cases appeared to be random throughout the chapter. Damage assessment was thus unusually slow in being completed for two main reasons, the major reason being that the entire East Bay Chapter had to be assessed, which given its great area, took a tremendous amount of human resources. Most disasters would occur within more well defined geographical limits such as creek beds, landslide areas, etc. and thus could be specifically targeted and thus completed. The second reason was that we had no Damage Assessment Chairperson and no plan and/or cadre of trained damage assessment volunteers ready to go out immediately.
A Little Background With Radio Slant: It was all Predictable
The old B/WCC service centers (Berkeley and Richmond) had suitable antennas, emergency power, telephone and radio equipment installed and functioning and also had current agreements with two active ARES/RACES groups (West Co Co County ARES/RACES and Northern Alameda County ARES/RACES). Similar arrangements were made at the Hayward and Livermore Service Centers as regards to radios, power, and antennas. The Oakland Service Center was however in shambles in regards to functional radio equipment, emergency power, emergency powered switchboard or active radio group relationships. Indeed the local radio groups in Oakland proved both disinterested and inexperienced. In fact it was known to the disaster committee that the Oakland site had many problems not present at other sites.
It was not without apprehension that I had looked upon the advent of a major disaster operating out of Oakland after accepting the position of Communication's Chairman after the merger of the B/WCC (where I had been the Communications Chairperson for over 5 years) and the Oakland/South Alameda County Chapters. I specifically advocated against the Chapter's disaster committee's proposal to use Oakland as the headquarters for any major disaster in the chapter until these and other problems were solved, but incessantly lost.
Indeed, the recent chemical spill and evacuation in Berkeley just a month before the large quake, required the East BAy Chapter Red Cross disaster volunteers to travel all the way from Berkeley, Richmond, Livermore, and Hayward to Oakland only to be sent back out to Berkeley in the end. Delay, confusion, and poor initial communication was were some of the results. It appears that less centralized operations and more locally controlled would be more appropriate. In particular, the implementation of functioning Disaster Committees within the Service Center regions capable of interacting with local resources, governments, churches, community organizations, etc would aid greatly in enhancing disaster preparedness in such a large chapter.
Indeed Oakland was the last service center that any communications chairperson would want to operate from during a disaster. Granted that it may not always be wise to locate an emergency operating center within the midst of a disaster area because of poor transportation, unreliable utilities, and other dangers; but it is wiser to operate as close to the sites involved as possible in order to not lose touch with the ever changing volatile dynamics of a disaster, thus enhancing one's ability to respond quickly, relevantly, and effectively. Indeed walking into Oakland with the power lines out and limited outdoor antennas and phone lines would effectively isolate one from the outside world, a position that a good communicator is supposed to avoid or remedy! A challenge indeed, that was met well by amateur radio.
It was the largest shaker in California since the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Turning on the TV set only confirmed my fears, as all but one TV channel had been thrown off the air, an unprecedented preemption. Although used to at least a few power black outs a year at my home, my commercial power was still strangely functioning. Preliminary reports coming over the repeater were sporadic, but widespread i.e., water mains burst, streets flooding, fires in San Francisco and Berkeley, and heavy damage reports covering a distance too widespread to indicate anything less than a major quake.
Having trained for years for this type of situation, doubting sometimes that it would ever occur, it became surreal that it was actually occurring. Unfortunately, as it turned out Alameda County, which is entirely within the East Bay Chapter, suffered more deaths than any other (predominately due to the Cypress Street overpass collapse), and also was the recipient of over 1200 different family applications for Red Cross assistance (greater than any other Bay Area Red Cross operation). Over 100 separate buildings were declared totally destroyed.
PART II. COMMUNICATIONS OVERVIEW
Commercial Power and Emergency Power
The Oakland Center which is chapter headquarters for the East Bay Chapter was the only service center without tested emergency power capabilities. As a matter of fact it was known to the Disaster Committee that the existing generator at Oakland had been evaluated by a professional emergency power agency and deemed to be "not worth repairing". This report had been made over a year ago to the Disaster Advisory Committee, but no funding or tests were forthcoming despite objections from at least one member.
The only installed radio at the Oakland Headquarters could only be powered by commercial power (115 Volts AC). The switchboard was a Horizon (AT&T System). The emergency power batteries had not been charged nor installed. Changes with the telephone system at Oakland had never been coordinated through the Disaster Advisory Committee. Additionally, the telephone switchboard outlet was also not on the designated few "emergency outlets" that would be left functioning "if" the generator was able to be started up and plugged into the emergency power transfer switch (something that had not been done or tested for many years).
The Earthquake occurred at 1705 PST and commercial power did not return until approximately 0600 PST the next morning. Thanks to the heroic efforts of three amateur radio operators, Bob Metz W6BSE, Bob Hughes N6SPY, and Jerry White WA6IZE, the old generator was finally hooked into the emergency transfer switch and Oakland Red Cross emergency power grid by 2300 PST only to fail repeatedly until being overhauled significantly on the spot, it performed flawlessly from 0100 on Wednesday until the power returned at 0600 Wednesday morning. Again we were fortunate that repeated power failures did not reoccur (common in such instances). Thus "communications" were severely hampered at chosen operating sites during the first 8 hours because of the lack of available AC power. From a communications standpoint, the other service centers (Livermore, Berkeley, Richmond, and Hayward) within the chapter possessing emergency power capabilities and better radio antennae and equipment would have been much more desirable to operate from.
Until the 3 phase delta 208/110 Volt AC generator was put "on-line at Oakland, power to the building was accomplished via a portable 3 KW 110 volt generator provided by a mobile feeding service called "Seeds of Peace" who "miraculously" showed up at the Oakland Headquarters within by 1900 PST. This allowed the hook up of portable extension cords and lights only and given that the building is a city block long, was only partially successful, but tremendously helpful. Later other small generators arrived from Richmond, Berkeley, etc.
The responsibility of choosing the Emergency Operating Site and establishing emergency power was the responsibility of the Disaster Advisory Committee who were aware beforehand of the shortcomings at Oakland in this regard. Although the Communications Chairperson must be aware of the power requirements necessary for radio operation, it should not be expected that Communications could fund such a project and be solely responsible for its function without a budget for repair or to purchase a new 3 phase generator system. **** SECTION B: RED CROSS RADIO COMMUNICATIONS **** 1989 Quake Critique: East Bay Chapter Am. Red Cross
The Red Cross primary frequency is on 47.42 MHz nationwide. In the Bay Area Oakland can hear Golden Gate (San Francisco and San Mateo), Marin (San Rafael), and Santa Clara (San Jose) chapters as well as its own service centers such as Hayward, Berkeley, and Richmond. Unfortunately communications to the Livermore Service Center, although a part of the East Bay Chapter is not normally possible because of the East Bay Hills. Fortunately all disaster operations sites at the 1989 Northern California Earthquake were located no further than 12 miles apart. Again we were lucky this time, no disaster communications were required at the Livermore Service Center area nor through diverse areas throughout the chapter.
Within minutes after the quake, Bob Hughes, amateur radio operator N6SPY, Contra Costa County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services member, member of the East Bay Chapter's Communications Committee, and also Disaster Action Team member for the Richmond area Red Cross activated the Richmond Red Cross Communications Center along with Kit Chantarotwong, KB6JZM, and Steve Dorst, N6VMK. Monitoring 47.42 MHz (Red Cross Red Frequency), Alameda County RACES located at the County Office of Emergency Services (147.42 MHz), Contra Costa County RACES located at the Contra Costa County Office of Emergency Service on 147.735 MHz, West Contra Costa County ARES/RACES on 145.11 MHz, and State of California Office of Emergency Services Region II Headquarters on 440.625 MHz, we were able to quickly ascertain some essential information, namely that Oakland had suffered some severe casualties and damage while there "appeared" only minor damage to the rest of the Chapter.
Mobiles with Red Cross radios installed and parked at the Oakland Red Cross were the only communications available before the hams arrived, because of the failure of the commercial power to the switchboard and the only Red Cross radio in the building was AC powered as well. The emergency generator was not to be reliably put on line for 7 more hours because of technical difficulties. Due to the low and inefficient antennas at the mobiles, relay was often necessary by Richmond Service Center or Berkeley Service Center base stations. After 0100 (AM) PST on Wednesday Oct 18, the Oakland radio communications became more reliable as they were able to get their AC powered base transmitter powered up. The frequency was continuously utilized for two solid weeks around the clock and moderately occupied up to 4 weeks after Tuesday's quake.
Red Cross San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland shared 47.42 MHz not without congestion. San Francisco quickly moved most of their traffic off to their BLUE frequency (47.54 MHz). San Francisco also had the luxury of being able to move 80% of their victims to one large shelter (Moscone Center) and thus reduce their communications and transportation needs.
By the next day, Wednesday Oct 18, Bunce School, Oakland High School, and the Berkeley Service Center were opened as shelters, followed shortly by Oakland Technical High School, then eventually Claremont School, Willard School, Laney College Gymnasium, Lowell Middle School, Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, and Berkeley Adult School (Some of which were opened up to two weeks after the quake because of delayed engineering inspections and resultant condemnations of buildings.
First 15 hours - Chronology
PST 1705 7.1 (Richter) Earthquake Occurs approximately 40 miles from Oakland
1710 Bob Hughes N6SPY, Kit Chantrotwong, KB6JZM, and Steve Dorst are dispatched to the Richmond Communications Center
1745 Emergency power is established at Richmond Comm Center and radio contact is made with County and State OES as well as Oakland Red Cross mobiles in front of the Oakland Red Cross
1745 Request to Northern Alameda County ARES (NALCO ARES) to send operator to Berkeley Red Cross for communications.
1750 D. Simon, NI6A, Communications Chairman for East Bay Chapter arrives at Richmond Communications Center.
1800 Request to Oakland ARES to send operators to Oakland Red Cross. Response none yet available.
1800 Communications established to Oakland Red Cross mobiles and Berkeley Red Cross (And Richmond) on Red Cross frequencies,
1815 After confirmation of damage at Oakland and only slight damage in Richmond, Bob Hughes, N6SPY is sent to help at Oakland.
1815 Oakland ARES again asked to send operator to Oakland Red Cross and Oakland EOC. Still none available.
1815 Request Contra Costa County RACES assistance in sending communications to Oakland Red CRoss
1815 Amateur Radio communications established to Berkeley Red Cross
1815 K6CSL arrives at Oakland Red Cross for amateur radio communications
1830 KB2SS arrives at City of Oakland Emergency Operating Center and establishes amateur communications between all sites.
1900 KB2SS is relieved at Oakland EOC by N6TQS and reports to Oakland Red Cross
1910 Bob Hughes, N6SPY, arrives at Oakland to aid in power and communications setup.
1930 NALCO ARES provides 2 amateur radio operator to Berkeley Service Center (K6APW and N6HMI).
1945 KB6EJL leaves Richmond Red Cross for Oakland Red Cross for communications
2000 is dispatched from Richmond to man Martin Luther King Shelter in Oakland for amateur communications.
2000 18th and Cypress (Emergency Response Vehicle) ERV equipped with their own radio establish Feeding Station for Rescue Workers.
2015 Bunch SChool Reception Center Opens
2015 KB2SS arrives at Oakland Red Cross to aid Amateur Radio Operations
2030 KB6EJL arrives Oakland Red Cross for amateur radio communications making six hams total (k6csl, w6bse, n6spy, wa6ize, and kb2ss).
2030 The East Bay Emergency Trailer manned by Dave Dorman (Vice Disaster Chairperson) and John Frisch (DAT member) arrive at Richmond to load supplies and Richmond Generator for Oakland.
2030 Two shelters opened (Berkeley Adult School and MArtin Luther King School in Oakland). Ham communications at both shelters, Alameda County EOC, Contra Costa County EOC, Oakland City EOC, Berkeley Service Center, Richmond Service Center, Oakland Service Center, Region II State OES, Alameda City Red Cross Center, and San Francisco Red Cross.
2100 WA1MCO, Mike, arrives at Berkeley Senior Center for Ham Radio Communications
2200 Resource net on 145.11 repeater (West Contra Costa County ARES/RACES starts staffing for Oakland Red Cross starting at 0800 PST for at least a 24 hour advance schedule.
2300 8 hams are operating at Richmond Red Cross ARES Staging for further assignments, manpower, and inter-county communications.
0100 Generator put on line at Oakland Red Cross Service Center to power dedicated hard wired emergency power outlets and lights.
0200 KB6LHR and KB6JZM leave Richmond Service center to install Red Cross radio and portable Red Cross antenna at Martin Luther King School Shelter in Oakland.
0300 Commercial Power returns to Richmond Red Cross
0330 Request from Damage Assessment Supervisor to Communications Chairperson for 35 hams as communicators for damage assessment teams starting at 0800
0400 Request to W6CPO, Larry Kaye, DEC Contra Costa County from Communications Chairperson for 35 hams by 0800.
0530 Activities gear up at Oakland for breakfast
0700 14 hams dispatched from Contra Costa County to provide damage assessment communications at Oakland.
0730 Commercial power restored at Oakland. All lights and plugs working.
0730 Request communicators from Oakland EC and DEC Alameda County again, but none presently available. He is on way to work.
0800 Radio operator shift changes at all operating locations except Oakland EOC and Richmond Service Center.
0830 K6KIS relieves N6TQS at the Oakland EOC after a 14 hour shift.
***** RED CROSS RED FREQUENCY 47.42 MHz OPERATION ****
On the Red Cross frequency of 47.42 MHz there were as many as 7 Red Cross shelters and feeding stations going at once, five service centers (Richmond, Berkeley, Hayward, Livermore, and Oakland Service centers) and twelve mobile Red Cross mobile units. The frequency was shared with San Francisco and San Jose Red Cross efforts as well. This frequency was constantly busy (24 hours a day) for the first week and used almost continuously for 4 weeks.
The Red Cross radio operations position was adjacent to the ham operations position located in the main lobby for the first 4 days as this was the most central location, in a very large building, that was undergoing constant alterations as the situation changed. This was called the Communications Center. Messages from Mass Care, Damage Assessment, Disaster Health Services, Feeding, Transportation, Supply, etc would be brought to the Communications Center and given to one or the other radio system on basis of best coverage or which frequency was more busy. The primary frequency of choice was amateur radio system. The reasons being because of more experienced and better trained operators, more reliable coverage, and also in order to reduce the congestion on the Red Cross 47.42 MHz frequency which was shared with San Francisco and San Jose Red Cross.
During the first week, 4/5 of the Red Cross operation was performed by two men, Jim Van Fleet and Steve Thornton. Working around the clock both men logged over 80 hours at the radio. In addition Jim also worked as supervisor of Supply and Security when Steve did his shift. It was an ideal way of maximizing continuity, and a heroic job by both. We were fortunate that both men were able to dedicate the time to effect the purpose.
After the first week, the East Bay Chapter moved many shelters and mobiles to GREEN Frequency, 47.62 MHz to alleviate any congestion with other chapters on 47.42 MHz while operating simultaneously from the Communications room on both frequencies.
After the first week, all ham groups were pulled out but radio communicators were still needed for certain shelters and for the mobile to base traffic. The US Coast Guard Reserve did a tremendous job in staffing over 70 slots. GMRS and REACT as well as few hams did superb work on both the ARC radios and their own frequencies.
Important aids were that the Richmond Service center stored 4 portable Red Cross antenna systems, 2 portable 12 volt power supplies, hundreds of feet of coaxial cable transmission line with suitable connectors, plus three additional portable Red Cross all channel radios for shelters. It was these radios and antennas we used the first two days for the shelters. Likewise the Livermore Service Center had 4 such radios, 3 portable antennas, plus a few power supplies in storage which supplied the other shelters as the need arose. Radio equipment wise the East Bay Chapter did not have to go to any outside Red Cross Chapter, but we were strained to our limit.
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