|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Pinching Pennies|
|Who's Who and New||Gearing Up||Member Spotlight|
|Public Relations||Feature Article||Web News|
|Top of the Hill||by Larry Mervine|
During this slow time for missions, It's a good time to attend trainings, meetings and evaluations. Even if you have already have been evaluated come for the practice. I encourage everyone to attend ESCAPE.
See you out there.
|Boots and Blisters||by Tom Russo|
Please note that I have moved this month's Land Nav evaluation to the Saturday after our monthly business meeting -- 15 May --- instead of the Sunday prior. This is because I realized only a few weeks prior to the scheduled date that it was scheduled for Mother's day, and far more people expressed interest in moving the event than were interested in keeping it at the scheduled date.
I'm sure you all know by now that the mock search on 10 April was cancelled after a few hours because mission 990503 started up. But the training was still successful in a few ways and some of us learned at least something. For instance, Don Gibson now understands what Tom Russo hears when someone says "keep it simple, stupid" and my definition of "easy terrain, good comm" is apparently one with which he was previously unfamiliar.
The scenario was one that seemed familiar to me: hiker goes out mostly unprepared one morning for an ambitious hike, and doesn't come home on time. Naturally, when I took my hike I had my full SAR pack, so I didn't go overboard on the realism. I left at 10:30 from Embudo canyon trailhead with the intention of getting at least partway to Deer Pass, all the while looking for a likely place for someone to make a wrong turn. That opportunity presented itself a few times, mostly in the form of washes that a hiker might try to use as a shortcut back to the parking lot. When I got to Oso Pass I decided to end the outbound part of my hike, as if my hypothetical subject had reached the intersection of Tree Gun Trail and Embudito trail at Oso Pass, hiked up toward Deer Pass, and then returned to this spot in the dark and missing his turn back onto Three Gun.
If one had missed the turn at that intersection, one would wind up on the Whitewash Trail. This is a very gentle trail at this point with very little elevation change: one gets down in a hurry towards the end of the trail. About a mile out from Oso Pass there is a wash that takes you right down into the flat canyon bottom in which we have had many, many Search Techniques trainings. So I decided to hike down this wash towards the bottom and find a likely spot to pretend to be injured while you folks looked for me. That wasn't too difficult: within a half a mile I began to encounter some steep drops, and when the sun went down it got that much harder to find ways around them, even with a headlamp. I could easily see how someone could be injured taking this route down, and how we would have had trouble getting me out by litter.
Back at base camp there was a problem: one team had been sent out with only a ham radio and not a 155.265 MHz capable radio, but the people operating the ham set back at base hadn't checked it recently. Team 3 repeatedly attempted to do a radio check, and eventually had to stay put and join up with team 4 before ever making contact with base. They were, however, making contact with me through the repeater, so there was clearly something wrong at base. It was discovered later that the volume control on the ham set was turned way down, and the squelch was set wrong. To review, if you are having trouble getting a response from someone on a radio, your first sanity check should be to turn your squelch knob until the background static is audible. If you don't hear any static, then your volume is set wrong and you should adjust it. Once you can hear the static at a comfortable volume, adjust the squelch again just until the static doesn't come through anymore. Proper attention to this would have prevented one of our teams from having to cancel their original assignment due to perceived lack of comm.
One very, very important point came up here, too. If you're a ham operator using ham frequencies during missions, you are encouraged to use "tactical call signs" such as "team three," "litter team," or "incident base," but remember that these tactical call signs are not adequate for complying with the FCC mandated identification. If you are using ham frequencies, at a minimum you must state your FCC call sign every ten minutes during an extended contact and at the end of the contact. It doesn't hurt to combine your tactical and FCC call signs, but the call sign is needed regardless:
A: KC5SFX, training base, this is KC5ZYC, subject 1. B: This is training base, go ahead subject. A: I've met up with team 3 and am returning to base with them. B: Understood. KC5SFX. A: KC5ZYC
Last point about the mock search: as I pointed out before I'm going to be using official-looking Form 211 check-in sheets at trainings. I am doing this to provide practice in using the form and filling it out properly. Remember that once you check in you must also check out before you leave! This applies to trainings as well as missions, and the purpose is so that staff can be sure that everyone who showed up has acknowledged that they're no longer in the field. In fact, very few team members remembered to check out of the mock search. We caught some of them before they drove away, but at least six people left without signing out at all and we were left to reconstruct whether we'd seen them come from the field or not. In some sense this was understandable: those people were on their way to mission 990503, but we did have a problem for a while when we thought some folks were still in the field but in fact they had left already. Bottom line: unlike the song, you can check in, but you must check out.
One thing about mission 990503 that bears emphasis for the sake of new
people: the Incident Commander asked for volunteers to hike down trail
without their packs in order to retrieve the subject's backpacks. In this
particular case, some Cibola members with field experience weighed the risk,
decided it was acceptable and accepted the assignment. But it needs to be
emphasized that this is very, very unusual, and in general it is an
extraordinarily bad idea to be separated from your pack on a mission, even if
instructed to by those who occupy positions of authority: the gear in your
pack is what will get you out of trouble should you become stranded, injured,
or the plans change and you're left to fend for yourself for a few hours. So
in almost all cases you should make sure that if you are going out into the
field that your pack is with you, and accept an assignment to do otherwise
only if you have sufficient search and rescue field experience to know for
sure that you are doing the right thing!
|Hike of the Month||La Luz Rock Identification Hike||0800, May 29, 1999|
|Trailhead: La Luz|
|R.T. Distance: At least a few-it's up to you- miles||Elevation Min/Max: TBD/7036|
|Hiking Time 4+/- hours||Hazards:|
|Topo Maps: Sandia Crest Quadrangle|
|Pinching Pennies||by Mike Dugger|
We now have all the information on our team's expected income for the next year from United Way, the Combined Federal Campaign, and the New Mexico State Employees' Charity Campaign. We need to develop our budget for the next year considering our expected income. There will be a budget committee meeting on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:30 PM at the Frontier Restaurant. All members are welcome to attend to help develop a budget proposal for presentation to the team at the June business meeting.
|Who's Who and New||by Susan Corban|
Art Bisbee had his orientation last month so you'll see him on missions now.
Doing this SAR stuff that we do does take time, commitment, gear, and your heart has to be in it to persist. Here are some numbers, for those of you who like to measure our recruitment progress numerically.
I have record of 34 first timers who have come to Cibola meetings since January, 1999. I've given eight orientations so far in 1999. At the moment, we have ten prospective members working toward active membership. There have also been numerous contacts via the Cibola website and email inquiries, as well as several telephone inquiries.
All this means that recruitment is a big job. For all the people who see our poster, our website, or show up at a meeting, only a few make the commitment to pursue search and rescue to the point of attending missions.
|Gearing Up||by Mike Dugger|
|Public Relations||by David Dixon|
On May 5 Susan and I were joined by Don Gibson and Larry Mervine for our Outdoor Preparedness presentation at REI. The initial audience numbered the same as the presenters but we picked up a few more as it progressed and I think we did a good job in the informal setting. We were even able to control ourselves and keep it to the 2 hours as planned. The attendees asked lots of questions and I think we enlightened the mostly novice outdoorspeople. With a little more fine-tuning our Outdoor Preparedness talk will be even better.
Upcoming summer events include recruiting (and promoting) on National Trails Day and again to Volunteers for the Outdoors in June and a Fireside Chat on Wilderness Survival (we'll do a variation on Outdoor Preparedness again) in July for Open Space. We also may host a short hike to coincide with the Open Space talk.
PR Committee continues to meet most months, the last Thursday at Frontier Restaurant, 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.
Amber Pickle tells us the following about herself.
I was born and raised here, did my undergraduate at Colorado College- majored in psychology with a minor in Mexico Today. Spent a semester in Ecuador and a semester in Mexico, so if there's ever a lost person who only speaks Spanish- I can help translate. Have chosen a career of being an eternal student. In other words, I want to be a doctor. My dream is to work as a high-altitude doc on Himalayan expeditions (of course only going as far as base camp). This summer I'll be spending two months in Nigeria, Africa doing biomedical research. I have two fat cats Aix and Kara who some call my "little dogs" and two turtles named after my grandparents, Tom and Marion. As for search and rescue, I've wanted to be involved for awhile, but didn't know how to get in contact until I saw Susan at the volunteer fair at UNM. I've been exposed to the outdoors since I was a wee one when my grandparents would take me mushroom hunting in Vallecitos and Greer, AZ. I'm always looking to learn more about wilderness sports and survival and am quickly becoming a climbing fanatic.
|Web News||by Tom Russo|
Some people are having trouble subscribing to the new mailing list and in at least one case I was able to track the problem down to wierd settings in the person's email program. As a general rule, you should turn off "HTML formatting" in your email program --- it's great if the recipient is a human using the same program that you're using, but for recipients who are using normal email programs the mail looks like gibberish, and it really confuses automated programs that are trying to read and process your email; the new mailing list is handled by just such a program, and having your mail editing program insert wierd formatting commands without your knowing it isn't the way to go. Contact me if you cannot figure out how to turn that braindamage off.
I've modified the program that generates the phone tree to reflect the details of our training policy and procedures more correctly than had been done before. When we implemented our evaluation process, the member database had only one way of indicating anything different about a member: an asterisk which had up to then meant that a member had not been to two trainings in six months and therefore was "not available for missions," or had notified the team that he or she would not be available for personal reasons. During the time between implementation of the team evaluation process and my changes in the structure of the website, we started to use the asterisk to mark people who hadn't had all three evaluations plus PACE. This has caused considerable confusion, since it has muddled together those who are ineligble for any missions (no training or not available) and those who may attend missions as base camp support but not take field assignments (had two trainings in six months, but not taken all three evaluations in the current or previous calendar year plus PACE). It was pointed out at the previous team meeting that this was not a proper way to indicate evaluation status, and that I should explore a better way of doing it.
With our new database it is possible to distinguish these people more easily, and I have appropriately changed the format of the phone tree. Starting this month, members who have the "Unavailable for missions" flag set in their membership record will appear in the phone tree with "Do not call," which is what the asterisk used to mean. The membership officer sets the "Unavailable for missions" flag either when you ask to be placed on this status or the officers' semi-annual review comes around and you haven't taken two trainings in the previous six months. Members who are prospective will appear with (P) indicating that they may go into the field only with an active, field certified team member; this symbol shows up on the phone tree if the member was flagged as a prospective member in the database on the day the tree was printed. And active members who have not had all three evaluations plus PACE in the current or last calendar year willl appear with (NFC) (for Not Field Certified) indicating that they may not take field assignments; the program queries the certification database to determine whether to print this one, but it is not printed for prospective members since they are allowed to take field assignments along with an active member regardless of their certification status.
The training database has not existed long enough to have the "do not call"
flag be created automatically by querying the database; the data only go back
to January, so the program merely looks at the "unavailable for missions"
flag, which needs to be set in the member database by hand. Thus, if you have
a "do not call" next to your name and you know you have been to two
trainings since January, it's because your member record was not updated. Let
Susan and me know and between us we'll check our records and make sure your
call status is corrected.
The team website can be accessed at http://www.cibolasar.org/
|Your Technician Accent ... And What to Do about It!||by James 'Jay' Craswell, W0VNE|
[Ed. Note: Since we have five new hams on the team, and hopes for many more, I thought it appropriate to trot out this gem from the April 1998 issue of QST, the official magazine of the American Radio Relay League. If you listen to local repeaters, you might hear many of the things W0VNE is talking about. Those of you who are hams should consider joining the ARRL: check out their website http://www.arrl.org/ for details.]
To quote from "Your Novice Accent," the classic November 1956 QST article by W6DTY, "People speak a language with the same accent as those with whom they live and work. New hams pick up habits and operating procedures of the gang they chew the fat with." How true this still is. I feel that the large influx of Technician licensees has created some of the same problems experienced by Novice operators of the '50s. I hope that people won't see me as finding fault with my fellow hams. Please take it in the spirit it was intended. It was prompted by my wife's (N0KJH) honest question: "Tell me what you think is correct procedure?"
"KD9XYZ KD9XYZ KD9XYZ this is KE9ABC calling and listening, bye." "KD9XYZ KD9XYZ KD9XYZ here is KE9ABC are you around Fred?" "Negative contact. KE9ABC clear."On FM a single call is all you need. I suppose in some rare cases the person being called is operating their receiver in the scan mode and won't catch the more acceptable "KD9XYZ, KE9ABC." And there is no reason to throw in "negative contact," "clear" and so on. Everyone who can hear the repeater knows quite well that you have had "negative contact." I think habit arises from people who spend too much time listening to police scanners and not enough time listening to proper Amateur Radio procedures. Being "clear" on the police band is a signal that you are free for the next assignment. On Amateur Radio if you are not in contact with a station it is assumed you are "clear." Let's ditch the Highway Patrol procedures and extra yakking. It sounds silly.
"QSL your hamster died, QSL on the good old days, Bob. Yeah, QSL on your new antenna. You're eight pounds now, Bob. I suppose you could get a linear for that FM rig and push me 9 or 10 pounds, huh? The handle here is Frank. F-R-A-N-K."The dreaded Q codes are making another stab at polluting the phone bands. Q codes are meant for CW. This habit of "QSLing" everything is a little like the idle character on a teletype circuit. Please assume that everything is received unless otherwise specified. It sure makes for tedious listening when every single thing said is repeated. If you must acknowledge a transmission, you don't need to repeat yourself over and over. "Good copy, Bob" is short and to the point.
When words must be spelled, they should only be spelled phonetically. For example V, B, E, G, D and C all sound pretty much the same. That's why phonetics were created. Spelling your name on an FM repeater (even phonetically) is questionable at best. The exception might be if your name is truly unusual, or if your signal is marginal into the system.
Your handle? When I heard this for the first time, I thought, what the heck is this goofball talking about? Sorry, I have knobs on my radio, but no handles.The most important lesson is to speak plainly, just as you would in person. When you meet some-one new at the radio club you don't ask them for their handle. You ask for their name.
Signal reports should follow the RST (Readability, Signal Strength and Tone) system. Not in "pounds," "feet," or "shoe leather." You will hear old-timers saying "Q5" once in a while (historical note: The readability or intelligibility scale goes from 1 to 5-see QRK in any list of signals). But for most voice operations, RST works best. Of course, you drop the Tone figure unless you hear some unusual noise on their signal (such as alternator whine). Some stations just give the signal strength in S units. "Bob, you're S8 now." Others provide the readability and signal strength by saying, "You were 5 by 8 on your last transmission." If someone specifically asks for a report, it is important that you give an accurate report. My minority opinion is that DXers and contesters who give 59 for everything (while asking for several repetitions of "all after crackkkle-spfffft") is a waste of time. If you give a signal report, give a real one.
"KD9XYZ this is KE9ABC for ID. Yeah, Bob, we got our ticket back when you had to memorize the license manual. Our transmitter is a GadZooks 1001. We like to operate with our feet hanging out the window.""For ID?" Isn't it understood that you are identifying? And the royal "we" is heard so often that "we" have to comment. Who is this other half of the "we" / "our" in your transmissions? When I was a young squirt and picked up this bit of silliness I was asked by one of the old-timers who was this "we"? Me and the mouse in my pocket?
"Well, Bob, may the good Lord take a liking to you and yours. Have a good day today and a better day tomorrow. We will be clear on your final and I wish you 73s and a goodnight. This is KD0XYZ clear and QRT."Nice sentiments (I do hope the good Lord takes a liking to me), but let's lose the canned "CB" jazz. The point is that these sign-off benedictions drag out an otherwise nice conversation. 73s? Best Regardses? Is this a form of stuttering? I won't belabor the fact that 73 is CW shorthand since everyone (even me) uses it, but let's use it correctly.
If you avoid some of the operating pit-falls we've just discussed, I guarantee you more contacts. Best of all, you'll rapidly earn the respect of your fellow amateurs.
|Disclaimer and Copyright notice||the Editors|