Prepare For Deployment
Waller County ARES training article
written by Christine Smith, N5CAS (sk)
Edited 09/2022 by Paul Smith, K5PRS
Being prepared for an emergency communications deployment involves a wide range of considerations including radio equipment, clothing and personal gear, food and water, medical kit, bedding, information, tools and specialized training documents.
The Shuttle accident is a good example of a situation where the first responder needs upon arrival were very different for each person and pre-planning is a necessity. This incident is very different in relation to a situation such as the response to the catastrophic flooding in the Houston area a couple years ago or the more recent and very unwelcome blizzard that shut down power for ten days. No two deployments are the same but your basic necessities remain the same – it’s the details that change with circumstances.
The last thing you want to do when a call for assistance comes is think of and pack all the items you might need. An experienced emergency responder knows how important it is to keep a kit of the items they need ready to go at a moment’s notice. This is often called a “ready kit” or “jump kit”. Without a ready kit, you will almost certainly leave something important at home or bring items that will not do the job. Here are a few basic questions you will need to answer:
- Which networks will you need to join and what equipment will you need to do that?
- Will you need to be able to relocate quickly or can you bring a ton of gear?
- Will you be on foot, or near your vehicle?
- Is your assignment at a fixed location or will you be mobile?
- How long might you be deployed – less than 48 hours?, up to 72 hours? even a week or more?
- Will you be in a building with reliable power and working toilets or in a tent away from civilization?
- What sort of weather or other conditions might be encountered?
- Where will food and water come from? Are sanitary facilities available?
- Will there be a place to sleep?
- Do you need to plan for a wide variety of possible scenarios or only a few?
Most people seem to divide ready kits into two categories: one for deployments under 48 hours and one for up to 72 hours. For deployments longer than 72 hours, many people will just add more of the consummable items that they will use up, such as clothing, gasoline, food, water and batteries. Others may add a greater range of communication options and backup equipment as well.
You might want to keep a list with your “ready kit” of items that have a short shelf life that you would not want to have packed at all times or would want to rotate out periodically. You might want prescriptions, batteries and other items not pre-packed but have them on a list as a reminder of items to be added will help to keep from forgetting them at the last minute. The following web site has some good information regarding planning your “ready kit”: http://home.comcast.net/~buck0/hamgear.htm
Ready Kit Idea List:
- Something to put it in — one or more backpacks, suitcases, plastic storage tubs, etc.
- Package individual items in zip lock bags or plastic kitchen containers
- Label ALL your equipment with your name, call sign, etc.
Radios and Accessories:
- Handheld VHF or dual-band radio (some people also like to bring a spare)
- Spare rechargeable batteries for handhelds
- Alkaline battery pack for handhelds
- Alkaline batteries
- Speaker mic and earphone for handhelds
- Battery chargers, AC and DC for handhelds
- Mobile VHF or dual-band radio
- HF radio
- Multi-band HF antenna, tuner, heavy parachute cord
- Gain antennas and adapters (roll-up J-Pole, mobile magnetic mount, etc)
- Coaxial feed lines, jumpers
- Ground rod, pipe clamp, and wire
- AC power supplies for VHF.UHF mobile and HF radios, accessories
- Large battery source for VHF/UHF mobile and HF radios, with charger
- All related power, data, audio, and RF cables and adapters
- Small repair kit: hand tools, multi-meter, connectors, adapters, fuses, key parts
- Materials for improvisation: wire, connectors, small parts, insulators, duct tape, etc.
- Photocopies of manuals for all equipment
- Headphones, for noisy areas and privacy
This is a short list and isn’t broken down into short term versus long term deployments. Taking time now to plan, pack and load up your vehicle (practice) will pay dividends when the balloon goes up for real.
That concludes tonight’s training. Are there any questions, comments or suggested additions to this material?
Thanks, this is (callsign) clear to net control.