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From the ARES Letter –20 July 2022
ARRL Section News
Colorado Section --High Park Fire Response

Colorado ARES provided amateur radio operators for the federal Type 1 Incident Management Team fighting the High Park Fire in Teller County, Colorado. The fire was reported on Thursday, May 12. Due to other deployments such as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico, no National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG)-certified RADOs (Radio Operators) were able to answer the call for several days. We have had 12 ARES operators who have supported as RADOs, not using amateur radio. Duties have involved radio operations on the Command channel, inventorying, cloning, issuing, and receiving radios. The initial COML and COMT were extremely pleased with our support. Our operators also helped establish and remove a fire radio repeater and an amateur radio repeater on nearby Mt. Pisgah to fill in coverage. Teller County Search and Rescue relies on Amateur Radio and were having a problem communicating from the initial ICP. Subsequently, an INCM and one RADO arrived, and ARES was still assisting, but with reduction of the number of operators. [The Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM) is responsible for managing the administrative documentation and inventory of the Communications unit and acts as a Radio Operator (RADO) in the absence of an operator. The INCM supervises RADOs in the Communications unit and reports to the Communications Unit Leader (COML). The INCM works in the Logistics functional area.

Additionally, when the fire initially kicked off, some residents reported never getting notifications. Cellular and internet service is not great in much of the county and the old alert system had been bought out and not everyone had updated their information. There may have also been glitches in the system. As a result, the Teller County Sheriff and Sheriff's Office PIO requested that members of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club, which operates several repeaters in the county, disseminate information about evacuations, closures, and shelters via ham radio with the hopes of getting information into the hands of other local operators who could in turn get this information to their neighbors.

One of the ARRL Colorado Section PIOs worked initially with the Sheriff's Office PIO and then with the incident JIS (Joint Information System, an ICS function) to help get the word out via social media, since most of the local news media and many local hams already follow the local ARES accounts.

The incident transitioned back to local control on May 20 and we stood down from the RADO role at that time. The Mountain Amateur Radio Club did continue to disseminate info after that, but we also had some weather move in and significantly dampen the fire. I believe that they have ceased monitoring for hot spots. Total person hours was about 320 hrs. Photos can be found on the Pikes Peak ARES Facebook page. -- John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, ARESRegion 2 Emergency Coordinator, and ARES PIO, ARRL Colorado SectionPikes Peak ARES at Right Place, Right Time06/27/2017

17 June 2017

Members of Pikes Peak ARES® (PPARES — Region 2, District 2 of Colorado ARES®) were supporting the Mountain Top Cycling Club’s annual Experience Ride on June 17, when a motor vehicle collision occurred at an intersection right where a race rest stop was located. Three PPARES members on site — Dan Huber, KN0MAP; Matthew Tuttle, KD0YBE, and Dean Buckhouse, KB0VVA — were able to respond to the accident, which involved a passenger car and a pick-up truck. 

There were injuries, and one of the truck’s gas tanks had ruptured and was leaking fuel.

One ARES operator called 911, but cellphone coverage was spotty, and the call dropped after only basic information had been conveyed. A report then was relayed via Amateur Radio to the race communications coordinator and director positions, which had much better coverage, and the director, John Higgins, N6VTS, was able to provide the dispatcher with the necessary information. The on-scene operators were able to assess the situation and assist with traffic control and initial hazardous materials mitigation. Coordinators, who still had riders to track and a course to sweep, were Nate Dwyer, KE0AHK, and Bob Antion, WL7RV.

“It was reassuring to know that experienced and level-headed ARES operators were in the right spot at the right time,” said John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, Pikes Peak ARES Emergency Coordinator and Public Information Officer.

Members of Pikes Peak ARES® were supporting the Mountain Top Cycling Club’s annual Experience Ride on June 17, when a motor vehicle collision occurred right where a race rest stop was located. [Dean Buckhouse, KB0VVA, photo]