I have emergency numbers in my phone, a month's supply of medication, a general plan with my wife on who to contact (if we cannot reach each other), and hope. I still have lots to do on this, and I will be working through it with my wife now that I have started on this process. Just one more note before we flip to the radio. Take care and prepare yourself and your family first. If you have not done this, then your response will be limited.
Now let’s flip to my radio abilities. I have a very modest go bag with coax, fuses, 2m/70cm radio, pad of paper, multi-tool, and power cable with my Anderson Powerpole connections. I can add my power supply, antenna and manual for the radio within 5 minutes and I am ready to go. For a short deployment, I can be from call to door in 10 minutes. For a multi-day, I would have to bump that to an hour. This is just for physical needs though. Am I ready mentally for it? I am working on it.
This week I have attended a SkyWarn training class, and my second of four “Introduction to Emergency Communications Course” class. This is part of my mental preparation for service during a disaster. I have also taken a handful of National Incident Management System (NIMS) online self-paced lessons and tests. Is this enough? My simple answer, for myself, is “never.” I feel that I need to continue to learn more and practice more.
This brings me to the most important part of my message to you on preparedness. I think, that as a ham who wants to serve their community, we must continue to hone our skills and grow our ability in amateur radio.
1st- We need to educate ourselves. We need to know how to use our equipment. We need to know how to use our computer to program the radio, and how to program the radio manually. I have honestly had to take a radio back to factory specs to correct a problem with the APRS capability within 8 hours of an event! It paid to have some good Elmer’s and the instruction manual along.
2nd- We need to practice. Participate in ARES, HARN or RACES. Go out and volunteer for a community service event(s). These will only help you prepare and run as a smooth operator during an actual disaster. I will admit that I am more enthused about participating in the community service aspect of things to get prepared. It is during these non-scripted events that you learn how to adapt during a situation. ARES, HARN and RACES can plan out a great exercise that will prepare you for real world applications, but nothing gets me better prepared than to have something completely unexpected happen. Everyone is having to adjust and learn how to compensate. This makes it easier to adjust the next time it happens, or the next time something new happens. You learn to adjust on the fly and not panic.
3rd- We need to support each other. If you know how to put together a rocking go box, then show someone else how to do the same. (Come show me!!!!) If you are wanting to learn CW, then look for those that know it, hang around with them and learn how they got to the point they are in the language of dit’s and da’s. If you need to learn how to do something, then ask. If you know how to do something, then ELMER. This is how we will be able to improve ourselves as a community of Amateur Radio Operators.