LEON AMBRIS - J88NFJ (middle) with RSS radio operators following erection of tactical broad band HF antenna
May 18, 2021
Regional radio operators get ready for the 2021 hurricane season

FORTY HAM RADIO operators from the East Caribbean were involved in a readiness drill, for the 2021 hurricane season, projected to produce at least 20 named storms, five of which are expected to achieve Category 5 status. The activity was held on Sunday, May 16, beginning at 5 AM and ran for about three hours.

The activity was spearheaded by the Youlou Radio Movement (YRM) of St. Vincent & the Grenadines and was supported by radio operators from, St. Thomas, Anguilla, St.Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Carriacou, Tobago, Grenada and Trinidad. The main purpose of the activity was to ensure that radio operators were in a state of readiness, by using emergency or back-up power to operate their equipment, as well as testing propagation on the HF bands at that time of the day.

Floyd Dowden – J39JX conducted the readiness network on the HF band (3.815 Mhz); while Director of the YRM, Donald De Riggs – J88CD, conducted the network on VHF (146.760 Mhz) via the Grenada repeater.

HF communications facilitates long distance communications, whereas VHF communications is limited to line of sight (LOS) and by the use of repeaters located on high hills to extend the range of VHF signals.

Also supporting the activity was CDEMA’s Communications Officer Courtney King – 8P6JK, who welcomed the activity. There is a growing need for volunteers in amateur radio, as it is the most reliable means of communications should the telephone system fail in the aftermath of a destructive hazard like a hurricane or volcanic eruption, among other natural hazards.

Radio operators from Barbados (CDEMA), SVG and across the region have been conducting twice daily networks since the effusive eruptions began last December, and which escalated into violent eruptions in April 2021.

Vincy operators kept our Barbadian counterparts updated on a daily basis of what was happening on the ground from eye witness reports.

The YRM also assisted a visiting RSS communications team from Barbados during the volcanic eruptions, with the setting up of a multi band HF antenna, donated to the YRM by Barrett Communications, to ensure that they were able to communicate reliably with CDEMA, NEMO SVG and other regional disaster management offices. According to De Riggs, there will be a message handling exercise around the end of June to provide new radio operators with emergency message handing skills.

This activity [will] follow a virtual ham radio training session carded for the second week in June 2021.

Interested persons can make contact via [email protected] gmail.com with the subject “Ham radio training”.