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28 August 2011

HAMNET News: 28 August 2011

Last week, HAMNET had the opportunity to host the 7th Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communication conference (GAREC) at Sun City, running parallel with the 22nd I.A.R.U conference, hosted by the SARL!

Although most of my participation was geared for running the I.A.R.U. conference, I had an interesting few days meeting guests from all over the world and assisting them, more than 100 in number, to get to Sun City.

We had to cope with planes coming in on time, planes arriving 4 hours late and attending to one guest who arrived unannounced. All in a days work!

The GAREC conference that started on Tuesday evening to allow IARU delegates to attend went off very well. On the first evening we welcomed all delegates and discussed mainly the 3 Regional reports.

On Wednesday we had a graphic presentation by Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, on the total devastation left after the earth quake and following tsunami on the north eastern coast of Japan. Ken also brought with some video taken from various operators working under difficult conditions with little or now power but adequate alternative power available – to get messages through!

Again, the absolute and immense value of amateur radio after such a disaster came across so strongly that one wonders what people did in the past after such disasters – when all means of communication fails!

Greg Mossop, G0DUB and I, then discussed an issue that is common – when you pick up a call for help, who do you call? Greg and I intend to put together a paper on this issue which in the long term will hopefully act as a guide. We are talking not about the usual call but the out of the ordinary call for assistance!

Thursday we had various presentation and a few delegates from the IARU joining us on the final day. This included an interesting table top exercise namely that the International Space Station, at the end of its lifespan, is in imminent danger of breaking up and debris may fall over populated areas – what do you do as this potential disaster develops?

Craig Lambinon of the National Sea Rescue Institute, NSRI then gave us an excellent presentation on their commitment around our coastline to save lives! HAMNET and NSRI will get together and discuss future cooperation when their communication needs support!

At the end of the conference, Francois, ZS6BUU was elected to serve on the steering committee for this coming year as we were the host for 2011 conference and after the GAREC Statement was completed and voted on, we were thanked by Dave Sumner, K1ZZ of the ARRL for a well run conference!

We look forward to Kuala Lumpur in 2012 with both Switzerland and Huntsville (Ala) in the USA, having made themselves available to host conferences for the next 3 years.

That is good for GAREC and International emergency communication!

Reporting for Hamnet this is Francois Botha – ZS6BUU.