AMATEUR RADIO'S FINEST HOUR

 

The nation and Amateur Radio were severely tested with the shocking terror attack on the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon on Tuesday September 11th.   Both have come through with shining colors.  Since then most of the nation has been glued to television sets watching the horror unfold.  The outpouring of volunteers, contributions and blood donors has been amazing as New York City and the nation rally around the recover effort. The nation has changed in a matter of hours for nearly everyone has been touched by these tragic events.  Most of us know someone who has been killed or is still missing or we know someone who has.  Many of us are suffering and will be for some time.  Some of us have post-traumatic shock syndrome and do not yet realize it.  A number of Amateur operators are on the list of missing - Steve Jacobson, N2SJ; Bill Steckman, WA2ACW; Bob Cirri Sr., KA2OTD; and Michael Jacobs, AA1GO.

In the Hudson Division this has certainly been Amateur Radio's finest hour. The response was instantaneous, tremendous and professional.  I am extremely proud of how ham radio responded.  This is what ARES trains for and now we have had a chance to show what we can do in a very serious emergency.  All of us can be extremely proud of how ham radio volunteers performed often putting themselves in danger.  It is my hope that the media will eventually begin to cover our performance and tell our story.  I know there will eventually be a detailed article in QST.  There is already coverage on the ARRL web site, which you should visit.  I have asked Jim Haynie, W5JBP, to come to New York City to see the job we are doing here and to personally thank some of the volunteers involved.  He should be here before the week is out.

The story is still unfolding and it is far from over.  Ham radio operators responded to EOC, Red Cross and Salvation Army sites in Manhattan, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties in New York.  There were even shelters covered in Northern New Jersey where survivors and those stranded when Newark Airport was shut down were housed.  In all hams responded to more than thirty shelters and sites.  In Manhattan alone 12 or 13 Red Cross Shelters were manned.  Charles Hargrove, N2NOV, NYC DEC and John Kiernan, KE2UN, Manhattan EC did a fantastic job of organizing the ham volunteers under very difficult and frequently dangerous conditions.  Tom Carrubba, KA2D, New York City - Long Island SEC, has spent untold hours working out the overall NLI assignments which includes NYC.  Shelters were manned in Valley Stream and Howard Beach for stranded JFK passengers and the Red Cross headquarters in Mineola was manned as was Queens Red Cross.   By Sunday the Long Island shelters were closed down as was the Mineola Red Cross HQ net. In Westchester WECA responded and supplied a number of operators to the NYC effort using their repeater for coordination.  NNJ did the same thanks to Steve Ostrove, K2SO, NNJ SEC, where four shelters were manned and more than 50 operators responded and helped overcome spotty telephone service.  I want to thank you all and to give you a collective pat on the back for job more than well done.

Over 200 area ham volunteers have responded so far, but more will be needed, as this will be a commitment for the foreseeable future.  I am sure that number will be closer to 500 before all the recovery efforts are complete. It will certainly be weeks and could even be months before we are no longer needed.  The emergency area is now contained to Manhattan.  Currently there are two shifts daily with 30 to 50 operators needed for each shift. Over time those now doing the job will need to be relieved.  Volunteers must be willing to make a very serious commitment.  This is a much more difficult situation than the typical ARES situation or the New York City Marathon.  To see what is involved, and any changes in shift times, check into the Division web site and the NLI page at http://www.arrlhudson/nli  There is a real need for operators but please use the web site as it takes the burden off the NLI SEC, KA2D and the NLI Section Manager, N2GA.  Please do not attempt to contact them directly as they have both been overwhelmed by the task and are using the web site set up by former NLI resident Joe Tomosone, AB2M, to assign operators.  

Eventually there will be a long list of those who did respond and we will be able to give them all a BIG thanks!

All of us should be aware of what we say on the air these days as there are a lot of people using scanners to listen in.  We want to get the most positive exposure we can for ham radio.  I know that many of us are hurt, angry and outraged and want to strike back but we must self monitor what we say on air.  We should not allow our anger to get out of control and come out in the form of racist anti-Moslem rhetoric.   That's not the American way.   That's not ham radio!

Please do what you can to ensure that this is indeed Amateur Radio's finest hour.

Thanks and 73,

Frank Fallon......N2FF.....
ARRL Hudson Division Director
n2ff@arrl.org

SEPTEMBER 20, 2001

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