|Top of the Hill||by Adam Hernandez, President Cibola SAR|
Well, six months down and six to go. This last month has really been busy. Not only did we have a training in the Jemez, but we had the most missions in any month this year. We looked for 3 year olds to 69 year olds. We looked for planes and followed cowboy boot tracks on dirt roads. Needless to say, this month has been very interesting.
In talking to various people during and after various missions, I think we have all done a great job. I want to thank all of you for maintaining your professionalism during all times. Thank You.
I do realize that sometimes when we are out in the field and we are thinking that the subject might be somewhere else, we have to remember that our job is to cover the predetermined area. The reason we do this is so that incident base can check off that area and then concentrate on other areas that might be of interest. Sometimes we find the subject by finding out where they are not. So, when it is 3:00 am and we want to go look over in a different direction we have to remember and realize that we are part of larger team, so cover your area. No one recently did this, I just remembered it being done in the past, not by us.
We also seem to carry a lot of equipment that other teams don't. On one of the last missions, a member from another team asked "If anyone had clothing to warm up the subject, when and if we found him". I must admit that I was surprised by this question. Cibola always carries what is required of us and is usually, fingers crossed, always prepared. We all have various extra clothing in our packs for personal use, middle insulating layers, etc. We can usually outfit a subject with some spare clothing pulled from team members. The subject won't be very stylish, but will be warm. Many times I have seen other teams carrying only the bare minimum. Cibola doesn't work that way, but just remember to get your stuff back, when back at incident base, or otherwise it's gone.
I also noticed that all members carried a full pack up to the plane crash last month, even though it was only a couple miles from incident base and during the day. I came out to that mission a couple hours later and was asked to carry in a "few" pints of water. I was glad to assist the rangers, who carried their rifles, because of possible bear encounters and the other team members who had carried in quite a few ropes, litters, and other climbing gear. Sometimes we do carry in a lot of "other" gear. Sometimes, it seems that they don't. Is it fair? Do we leave the material for other teams to carry? Do we make a point that they should carry "their" gear? Do we let the subject wait, while we figure out who carries what? We get the material in and get the subjects and gear out. Don't let your pride get in the way of a mission. Sometimes, we just carry gear. That doesn't mean we can't tell the other teams to "balance" the loads. We are not pack horses and don't overload yourself, they can also carry stuff. I ended up carrying out some type of portable litter with a different team member. We shared the task, he started carrying it and then I finished carrying it out. Try to work with the other team members and maintain yourself, as you always do. See the incident commander or a Cibola officer with any concerns.
As always, keep training.
|Boots and Blisters||by Tony Gaier, Training Officer|
July’s training is a search training on July 15th. It will be located at Ellis Trailhead starting at 9:00AM.
The August training is on the 11th at Embudito Canyon Trailhead. It is a navigation training and starts at 9:00AM.
September’s training is a litter training on September 16th. It will be located at Chamisoso Canyon starting at 9:00AM.
The July pre-meeting training is the second part of a navigation presentation. There will be some practice with maps, plotters, and compasses. The August pre-meeting training is information on Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs).
Updates have been made to the training schedule, please check it often for newly posted information.
If you have any questions or concerns with upcoming training events please call or email me.
|Pinching Pennies||by Adam Hernandez|
|Who's Who and New||by Mike Dugger, Membership Officer|
The past month brought several new volunteers to our team. Please join me in welcoming Graham Tull and Jason Neal as new prospective members. Graham is also one of our medical directors, so our team now has the ability to put a doctor in the field to care for injured patients. Graham is on Adam’s branch of the phone tree, and Jason is on my branch. We also have a new full active member this month – Julian Chavez. Most of you have already had a chance to meet Julian since he has been to many team events over the past year. Be sure to congratulate Julian the next time you see him for sticking with it and becoming an active member.
|Minilesson||by Tom Russo|
At the team meeting in June, it was suggested to me that it would be a good thing to have a page on our web site listing all the radio frequencies that team members should have access to during missions. It's been a long time since I've thought much about that, so before I go ahead and cobble together such a page for the site I'll ramble here in the newsletter about the topic.
The first thing to talk about is that pesky legal stuff. There are two different radio services that are generally used during missions: the public safety pool (governed by Title 47, part 90 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or 47CFR90), and the amateur radio service (governed by 47CFR97), also known as "ham radio." Use of either service requires an FCC license for that service. Unlicensed operation of a radio transmitter is a violation of federal law, and can result in very large fines (thousands of dollars per occurrance). Note that a ham license provides no authority to use frequencies inthe public safety pool, nor does a license for the public safety pool grant any authority whatsoever to operate on the ham bands. Unfortunately, there are many SAR volunteers who make statements to the contrary; they are mistaken. Remember that when you key a transmitter, it is you who are assuming all responsibility for doing so in a legal manner, not those who are giving you communications advice. So please be well-informed about the law before operating a radio.
All radio transmissions must be identified by a call sign. The rule for the Amateur Radio Service is that one must say the call sign of the control operator every ten minutes, or at the end of the conversation, whichever is sooner (source: 47CFR97.119). Under the public safety pool, the requirement is to identify the station by its call sign every 30 minutes (source; 47CFR90.425). It is sufficient for the base station to do the identifying in the case of the public safety frequencies, but when using amateur radio every station must identify properly using the call sign of the control operator for the transmitter, and base can't do that for you Only the FCC-issued call sign satisfies this station identification requirement. Tactical call signs (such as "team one" or "incident base") are never adequate for this purpose, even though nothing prohibits their use for convenience in addition to the legally required identification.
Operating on the public safety frequencies requires a radio that has been approved by the FCC for use on those frequencies. This approval used to be called "FCC Type Approval" but is now called "FCC Certification." The part 90 rules are very specific about what radios the FCC will certifiy, but the important thing to note is that no radios marketed as amateur radios are FCC certified for use on the public safety pool. You must purchase a commercial radio such as the ICOM F-14 or F-33 that the team keeps in its cache in order to operate legally on these frequencies. Note also that the web is full of instructions for modifying ham radios so that they will operate on frequencies out of the ham bands, and it is very easy to make a ham radio transmit on frequencies in the public safety pool, but it is illegal to transmit on public safety pool frequencies using modified ham radios. Again, there are quite a few SAR volunteers who will argue to the contrary, but they are mistaken; if you get cited by the FCC for illegal operation it is you that will be paying the fine, not them, so know the law yourself and follow it.
You may not transmit on amateur radio frequencies unless you have a current amateur radio license, or the radio is in direct control of someone who does have a valid amateur radio license (this person is called a "control operator" and must be physically present at the "control point" of the radio). It is a common misconception among some SAR responders that because SAR is an emergency operation this requirement is not in effect. Those who believe this are mistaken, and could face stiff fines if an enforcement action is directed at them. Amateur radio is mostly self-policing, so the odds of having the wrath of the FCC brought down on you for improper operation on amateur radio frequencies are even higher than they are on the typical SAR public safety frequencies. So if you want to use these frequencies, get a license. It's easy enough, is cheap, and can be renewed indefinitely for free once you have one.
The primary mission frequency is usually 155.160MHz, a frequency in the public safety pool. This frequency is shared in the Albuquerque area with a school bus company, and it is not unusual to have traffic from school bus drivers on the mission net for weekday missions. The State holds a license for this frequency, with a call sign of WNXV605, and team members are authorized to use this frequency on missions (and at no other time!) under this license. The New Mexico Emergency Services Council (NMESC) holds another license for this frequency, with call sign KC7064. Members of teams that are paid-up members of the NMESC may use 155.160 under this license during team trainings. Several other entities hold licenses for this frequency, it is not the exclusive property of New Mexico SAR --- all licensees must work cooperatively to prevent interference.
The NMESC recently obtained licences for two other VHF frequencies and two new UHF frequencies for use by member teams on missions and training events. It would be useful for team members to have these programmed in their radios, because we might encounter such teams on out-of-district missions.
Cibola has a license to use 155.265MHz under the call sign WPPU605, and we may use this in our trainings and on missions as we see fit. Individual members are not generally authorized to use it outside of team functions, though.
Many other teams around the state have their own licenses for other frequencies, and you should be aware of them. You may not in general use those frequencies unless authorized by that team. Here's a summary table of the frequencies you might find useful on missions:
|Frequency||Licensee ||Call Sign |
|155.160||State of New Mexico ||WNXV605 |
|155.160||New Mexico Emergency Services Council (NMESC) ||KC7064 |
|151.370 ||NMESC ||KC7064 |
|159.285 ||NMESC ||KC7064 |
|460.250 ||NMESC ||KC7064 |
|465.250 ||NMESC ||KC7064 |
|155.265||Cibola SAR ||WPPU605 |
|155.280||Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council ||KD43939|
|155.235||Saint John's College SAR||WPWG324|
|155.400||Atalaya SAR ||WPWT820|
|155.220||Santa Fe SAR ||WPNZ328|
|155.205||Mountain Canine Corps (MC2) ||WPLR648|
Please note that the table above is by no means comprehensive. Several frequencies are licensed to multiple SAR teams, and I've only listed the licensee we interact with most frequently. I hope to assemble a more comprehensive list later this summer.
Amateur Radio Frequencies
The main reason to use amateur radio frequencies on missions is to take advantage of repeaters --- relatively high-powered stations (usually placed on mountain tops) that receive transmissions on one frequency (the repeater input) and retransmit it on another (the repeater output). Since VHF and UHF radios typically work only on a line-of-sight, this can vastly extend the communications range of a small, handheld transmitter --- you don't need to have a line-of-sight to the person you're trying to speak to, as long as you both have a line-of-sight to the mountaintop repeater station. We have an extensive repeater network in this state thanks to a number of amateur radio organizations, especially the Upper Rio FM Society.
As an aside, the other mode of using amateur radio is called simplex operation, in which two or more stations communicated directly on a single frequency along lines-of-sight. There are numerous frequencies to use for this purpose, and if simplex communication will do the trick, you should use it --- every time you use a repeater you tie it up for someone else who might need it for longer haul communications. I'll list common simplex frequencies below.
To use a repeater, you need to know the repeater's input frequency, its output frequency, and often a "PL tone" (the latter is a subaudible tone that is used by the repeater to separate signals meant for it from noise or from signals on the same frequency meant for a different repeater). In general, VHF repeaters use a fixed offset between input and output frequencies of 600kHz, and the only thing you need to know is whether the input frequency is offset above or below the output frequency. You usually tune your radio to the output frequency (so you can hear what's being transmitted by the repeater most of the time, and set it up so that when you key the microphone the radio switches to the input frequency while it transmits. In the table below, the repeater offset will be listed as a plus or minus sign, indicating that the input is 600kHz above or below the output frequency.
I'm just going to rattle off a few prominent repeaters that are used often on missions. For more detail and a comprehensive list of repeaters in the Upper Rio Linking System or the MegaLink, see the Upper Rio FM Society web site. Maps of these repeater's locations are all available at the Upper Rio site.
|Output Frequency (MHz)||Offset ||PL Tone (Hz) ||Location |
|146.90||-||67||Near Truman Gate of KAFB (for now) |
|147.06||-||67||Tapia Mesa, near Clines Corners (Permanently linked to 146.90)|
|146.96||-||100||Capilla Peak (Manzano mountains) |
|146.94||-||100||Mount Taylor (La Mosca) |
|145.29||-||100||Sandia Crest (Megalink --- linked to all other Megalink repeaters)|
|147.26||-||67||Elk Mountain near Santa Fe (Megalink) |
|147.26||-||100||Caballo Peak near T or C (Megalink) |
|147.24||+||67||Eureka Mesa near Cuba (Megalink)|
|147.24||+||100 ||Socorro Peak (Megalink) |
|147.28||+||100 ||Gallinas Peak near Corona (Megalink) |
|146.72||-||100 ||Raven Road (S.14) --- Not a URFMSI repeater, privately owned.|
|Common Simplex Frequencies|
|146.52||National Simplex Calling Frequency (use to establish contact, then move to another frequency) |
Note that in the case of the Megalink repeaters, several repeaters in different areas are on the same frequency, but they use different subaudible tones. It is also the case that the Megalink repeaters are all permanently linked to each other, so any transmission made on any Megalink repeater is retransmitted by all Megalink repeaters throughout the state. This makes the Megalink a powerful tool for communicating across the state, but a very limited resource --- it is essentially a single repeater with a massive coverage area. Please do not use the Megalink for routine communications when a simplex frequency would do the trick.
When choosing a simplex frequency, you should refer to an appropriate band plan for the 2m ham band. See, for example, the ARRL band plan web page. It is not recommended that you carry out extended contacts on the calling frequency (146.52MHz) as this frequency is intended to be a good place to listen in order to establish a contact. If you tie it up with an extended contact, you deny its use to others. So use that frequency to contact another station, then choose another frequency for the contact and move there. You can return to the calling frequency to listen for other contacts after your extended contact is finished.
|Public Relations||by Adam Hernandez|
|Statewide SAR Notes||by Tony Gaier|
The June NMESC meeting was held on the 23rd. The majority of the time was spent determining board positions. I volunteered for the training position. We also had one board member resign at the meeting. This means there is an opening for a board member. If you are interested in serving as a board member please contact me. There will be a "Boot Camp training" held here in Albuquerque on September 22nd. More details to follow in the near future. If there are any issues or concerns that you would like addressed at the state level, please email or call, I would gladly bring them up at our next meeting.
|Disclaimer and Copyright Notice||the Editors|
The contents of this newsletter are copyright © 2007 by their respective authors or by Cibola Search and Rescue, Inc., and individual articles represent the opinions of the author. Cibola SAR makes no representation, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy of the information contained in these articles, and cannot accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made. Articles contained in this newsletter may be reproduced, with attribution given to Cibola SAR and the author, by any member of the Search and Rescue community for use in other team's publications.