Welcome Skip Kingman, K1HEK

Skip Kingman, K1HEK

We extend a warm welcome to our newest Centralia ARES team member, Skip Kingman, K1HEK.  Skip participated in our Simulated Emergency Test exercise back in October as part of the Washington State Guard contingent.  At that time, Skip helped in the exercise’s Emergency Operations Center helping to set up a communications link with several outside agencies.  Shortly thereafter, he joined our Amateur Radio Emergency Service team as well.

Skip tells us he has been interested in radio most of his life, building his first crystal set at the age of nine and receiving his first short wave radio at ten.  By age thirteen, he could send and copy Morse code at about  15 words per minute.  After high school, he joined the military and studied radio and radio wave theory and practicality, using this knowledge as a radio communications intelligence analyst in Europe, Asia and Vietnam.

After leaving the military, Skip became a police officer for the next eleven years departing as a division commander.  Most of his professional life, however, was spent in emergency medical services as an NREMT-paramedic, a certified firefighter-paramedic and/or a certified emergency nurse.  After 911, he became involved in hospital disaster preparedness and was involved in setting up amateur radio stations in three hospitals.  It was about that time that Skip obtained his ham radio license and now holds an Amateur Extra class license.

Skip has been part of the Washington State Guard EMCOMM team for over three years and is also part of the EOC RACES team staying involved in amateur , federal and military net operations in the office and in the field with voice and digital communications..

Welcome to Skip.  We will be glad to put his experience to work.

Flood Season Is Here. Are You Ready?

Fall is here and that means we’ve entered flood season.  For those who have deployed during previous floods in our community, the information below should serve as a reminder.  For our newer members, the information will hopefully help you prepare for a possible ARES activation.

Each year, the Centralia / Lewis County area is impacted by floods or “near miss” flood situations. A “near miss” situation simply means our area came so close to a flood situation, another 12 or 24 hours of rain would have placed us into a flood.  Both the Chehalis River and the Skookumchuck River pass through Centralia.  Heavy rains in the mountains or a snow melt can trigger a flood on the Chehalis and the Skookumchuck at the same time.  Smaller creeks and streams such as Salzer Creek and China Creek – which runs directly through the middle of the downtown area – can easily create localized flooding.

Major flooding, as occurred in the devastating 2007 flood season, can impact a wide area of our county even cutting Interstate 5 and shutting down that transportation system for days at a time.  Less major flooding creates localized situations that often close city streets, local businesses and can cause wide spread damage to homes.

Centralia ARES deploys in a variety of ways to area flooding.  We may be asked to monitor sandbag stations or road barriers.  Most often, however, we are tasked with conducting windshield surveys designed to keep our Emergency Operations Center fully informed on flood conditions in neighborhoods throughout the community.  As always, we support the EOC by manning the amateur radio station inside the facility.

As a deployment develops, you will be notified and asked to monitor a designated frequency where you will receive an up to date situation report.  At that time you will also be asked your availability for deployment.  Some volunteers may be given an immediate assignment while others may be asked to check in at regular intervals.

Upon deployment, you will contact Net Control for information, directions or assignment.  Net Control also acts as your safety net so remain in contact at all times.  Do not leave your assignment or go home without notifying Net Control.

So how cay you prepare for flood deployment?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Prepare yourself and your family before the deployment call comes.  Make sure your family and your home will be safe when you deploy.  Be sure they can call or text you and assure them of your support, if needed.  Know if your home is located in a flood plain and know where to evacuate if necessary.
  2. Maintain your amateur radio equipment in a state of readiness.  Keep the equipment handy and all batteries charged.  Make sure you have all the necessary frequencies programmed in your radios.  You should, where possible, have a mobile radio in your vehicle and at least one, preferably two HTs available.
  3. Keep your vehicle full of fuel.  Carry water, snacks and a winter weather go-bag in the car at all times.
  4. If possible, have a complete set of rain gear.  Floods are caused by rain and you may well be out in the weather.  Include a rain proof hat, gloves and some sort of rain boots.  You will not be asked to wade into deep water but you may need to walk through a few inches to reach your vehicle or a building.
  5. Most flood deployments are short term – usually 4 hours or so – until the relief team arrives to take over but be prepared for up to 12 hours of deployment by keeping water, snacks and comfort items in your vehicle.
  6. Food is usually provided to flood volunteers but be prepared with your own food supply should that system fail or be disrupted.
  7. Carry a flood go-bag on each deployment.  This should include – at a minimum – amateur radios, spare battery packs and a car charging system for your HTs; at least two sources of light such as a flashlight or headlamp; chemical hand warmers; small change to buy snacks & incidentals as needed; cell phone car charging system; programming guides for all radios; water, snacks and any medication required; first aid kit; pens, markers & notebooks – preferably rain proof; your field resource manual and a local map; a Leatherman type multipurpose tool; personal toiletry items as desired; a copy of your amateur radio license and personal ID; your ARES identification card, vest and door ID shields.
  8. Remember – personal preparedness as an Amateur Radio Emergency Service volunteer is your responsibility.  If you are not sufficiently prepared and therefore require assistance you become part of the problem and not part of the solution.
  9. Your safety, as well, is your responsibility.  Do not drive in deep or even moderately deep water.  When unsure, go around or turn back.  Do not place yourself in danger for any reason.  If the situation appears unsafe, leave the area and notify Net Control.
  10. Know your callout procedures and do not self deploy.  No flood situation is enhanced by having additional people out driving around just to see what a flood looks like.


Ham Radio Lab

Bill, N7GWK, explains digital systems

Centralia ARES held our first “Ham Radio Lab” Monday evening at the Mt. View Baptist Church.  Our host, Pastor Bill Knepper, N7GWK, had the coffee on and the doors open when we began arriving at 6:30 pm.  Ham Radio Lab was Bill’s idea and was designed around more of a social function than an actual meeting or training exercise.  He envisioned bringing hams together simply to share information, mentor those who needed assistance and practice the amateur radio hobby.

Paul, KE7PCB, demonstrates Anderson Powerpole equipment.

Fifteen team members and a couple of guests made up our first get-together and included a fairly even smattering of newer hams and experienced operators which is exactly what was hoped for.  For some of the newer hams, much of the conversation centered around which VHF antenna could be used for their shack at home and how to install it.  Paul, KE7PCB, brought his Anderson Powerpole supplies and gave anyone who wanted an opportunity to learn how to attach connectors.  While this is not difficult to learn, practice always makes the job easier and Paul is a gentle teacher.

Digital communications seemed to be one of the big draws with five or six stations set up around the room, some working out a few bugs while other operators took the opportunity to explain how the systems functioned.  Comm II was placed outside the building and used for peer to peer practice.

Lyle, KB7PI, and Frank, KF7RSI, hard at work.

As with any group of amateur radio enthusiasts the two hours given over to our first lab flew by quickly.  By the end of the evening, when equipment was packed away, smiles all around told the true story.  Hams enjoy being with and learning from other hams.  While this was our first Ham Radio Lab, it certainly won’t be our last.  Thanks to Pastor Bill for opening his church and making this event happen.

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