A New Ham’s Trial By Fire, During A Flood.

Interview’s Transcript:

Today in the last wire podcast we’re joined with Ed, whiskey four echo Mike Bravo from Tennessee. Welcome to the show, Ed.

Hey, thank you very much, John.

Well, my father, uh, is a silent key now, but my dad was K D H E J, and he lived in Ohio and I was deployed to Iraq and my dad sent me the Gordon West study book.

And the Gordon was set of CDs. And so I took those CDs, uploaded them on my computer and I had a laptop there and I, uh, told it to play and I just told it to play in a loop. So it was always playing and I put it like in a low volume and I’ve got on patrol, come back on patrol and come back. And I always heard Gordon West voice talking and, uh, I could lay there in my hooch and listen to what he was talking about.

And, uh, I would take notes on the walls of my hooch though. The walls were this weird cardboard material that you can write on it and it would erase or use dry erase markers. To write notes and people would come to my hooch and they’d say, man, it looks like a bill Nye, the science guy room or something.

Cause there was notes on every wall, you know? Cause it’s not a big, huge, I could reach all the walls in one spot. So, but uh, yeah, so that’s where I got it from was from my dad.

Very inspiring. For you being in Iraq and studying, was it a release from the reality of being in Iraq? I find that quite interesting. The studying of ham radio and being in a war zone.

I didn’t have a, a lot of downtime. The particular company I was in. Uh, we didn’t have, um, uh, we had, we had a, quite a job to do where we were. And so we were, we were doing our job quite a bit and, uh, that’s how come I just let it loop because I, I can never sit down and say, I’ll read chapter one today because I was constantly outside the wire doing, doing missions.

So I just let it loop and play. Um, Everybody else would just watch movies at the, you know, DVDs that they had brought from home or, or, uh, they’d have mail sent to him. And everybody was exchanged in these DVD movies. And, uh, I I’d fall asleep for watch a DVD movie, I guess, or I would want to get halfway into a movie then have to stop.

So I just chose to listen to the CDs and I, and I, at one point, uh, you know, I’m brand new, didn’t know anything about the hobby and Gordon West had said, um, Uh, if you have any questions, give me a call. Here’s my phone number and it’s in, it’s in the CD, in the audio CD. Well, I got, I was really excited. I’m like, Hey this, Hey, Hey, let me take a test.

I’m ready now. You know, cause I listened to it for like two or three months and I’d finally made it through all those. And I called him and uh, he, uh, his wife answered the phone and she says, Gordo, you have a phone call. And he said, take a message. I’m eating. And she says, no, you better take this one. It’s a young man in Iraq.

And he came and he took my phone call and uh, he’s like, and then he explained to me better the VIII system and how you have to, what you have to do to get tested and all that. And I realized, well sitting where I’m at, that’s gonna happen. So, uh, I appreciate, I told him thanks for his time. And he, he asked me my dad’s call sign.

I told him, and, um, Then in 2000, that was in 2000, uh, 2008 and then 2011, my dad passed away. My mother was cleaning out some of the house and she’d sent me some boxes of my dad’s stuff. And then one of my dad’s boxes was a QSL card from Gordon West. And I thought that was pretty neat. That’s a great story and a great loop of, uh, I think ham radio was very much a family and as much as we all don’t know each other, we all have a connection and that is human.

Absolutely. Now when you get back and you had your first Emergency activation, can you tell me a little bit about this experience, It sounds like it was kinds of your trial by fire into ham radio and emergency response?

Sure. Okay. So I just got back from Iraq. I took my Iraq money and bought, bought my radio equipment. And I had made a box to put my station in a wooden box, had a front and a back that would come off.

And all I had to do is plug in the power and plug into, um, Plug into the antenna. And I thought, Hey, this way I could just pick it up and use it wherever I need to. And around two, and this is a 2009 when I’m back into 2009 and I’m a new ham. And then, so I’m getting involved in as much activities I could, you know, I got my general license shortly after I got my technician license.

And, um, in may of 2010, um, we had this huge flood here in Nashville and here in Clarksville, Tennessee, and, um, So a lot of people were being displaced. You know, there was, I mean, it was a. You know, once a, once every a hundred year flood or they say, or 500 year flood. So, uh, I was on my way to work and they had gotten on the two meter radio and the red cross was saying, Hey, we need some volunteers.

Is anybody out there available? And I responded. I said, well, I said, I’m, I’m going to work. I said, but let me, let me check on it. When I get there. Anyway, long story short work said, yeah, go ahead, go volunteer to go do that stuff. I said awesome. And like I said, I was in the army at that time and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, they, I think they can handle things on their own and the area wasn’t flooded here.

And so I grabbed, I come home, grab my wooden box I made and, uh, threw it in a truck and drove to the church that they told me to go to, that they were planning on setting up for. Um, uh, people who’ve been displaced. And so I set up in the church, got my antenna outside. I got my box and I call the red cross on the radio and I said, hello, you know, this is me, I’m in position.

And they said, Hey, that’s great. I said, all right, I had no clue what I’m doing there. They just asked me to go there. So on there. And then, uh, it wasn’t, but maybe about 40 minutes went by and they called me and said, Hey, uh, ed, you are now net control. Cause we’re taking on water and we got to go. That moment right there.

What was going through your head when you’re a new ham and you have been activated, you’re excited and all set up alone at this community church.

Well, the very first thing that went through my head was a famous thing that you say over the army radio, which is Say that again OVER? And, to find out that the Red Cross had to be taken down. They ended up taking on five feet of water in that building and couldn’t stay.

They were in and they were, they were probably, they were probably. I’d say four to 500, 600 meters off of the river from the river. So that’s how much it had risen. And, uh, I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea. I hadn’t been listening long enough to know what the net control was doing other than answering people.

So, uh, you know, and I was in the army long enough at that point, you know, I I’m like, okay. You know, when in charge take charge, and then the calls started coming in and telling me what roads was closed and what bridges were out and, and, uh, all of this kind of thing. And I quickly realized, uh, well, I have no map.

To look at, I have no, uh, notepad, I guess I just thought, Hey, he goes separate. He was sure, I didn’t know what that meant. So I was so unprepared and, uh, so I told myself this will never happen to me ever again. And, uh, so I had, yeah, I was writing notes all over the outside of that wooden box. And, uh, with a pin that borrowed from the pastor and people would call is this bridge open?

And I’d have to like stand by as I searched around my wooden boxes. To see if I seen the name of that bridge on my box. And then after they would open a road after they would let some levies loose or open on some dams, then I would put a line through that note if it was no longer applicable. And, uh, but yeah, it’s definitely definitely a trial by fire.

Absolutely. Uh, right into it. Right into it. Since that time, I presume you’ve been more prepared. You better understanding what, what role now do you play in amateur radio and when it comes to emergency emergency response for your community? Sure. So, um, Aires amateur radio emergency service, uh, is a, is a, um, part of the amateur radio relay league.

And so, you know, I try to volunteer this much stuff for that. Can you, I belong to the local club. I got into Aries and we would have areas meetings. And then, um, as time went by people, you know, being, this is a military town people move and, um, Uh, most of the ham club that was permanent, most of it is. Um, but sometimes, um, there’s a few members I have to have to go.

And, uh, eventually I ended up taking over the emergency coordinator position of Aires. So I was the person in charge of my County, Montgomery County areas. And so, uh, I held it for a while. And during that time, uh, the guy who was in charge right before me had gotten me an account with the national weather service.

And so, uh, when I say got me in an account that meant that I had a name and a password, uh, and I was able to join the national weather service or what they call it, NWS the national weather service checked. And so I could log into the chat room and there was two chat rooms that I had access to with my credentials.

And that was the. Now Nashville, uh, national weather service and the Nashville national weather service for hams. And so what that meant was I could now jump into the chat room where they start putting warnings and, um, watches and all the things that come over the official NOAA radios, uh, the, the text information.

Now that all happens right here at this national weather service chat room. And they talk about it. Amongst each other, as they’re about ready to start releasing these tornado warnings, tornado watches, a severe thunderstorm warnings, and they’ll actually publish it there at the same time that a computer reads it over the NOAA radio.

So I can actually see it before it’s happening seed on the map. Cause if there’s also a map available on that website. And so what I would do would I would turn on my, uh, two meter radio. And I was, I took over kind of all my own, the responsibility for two adjacent counties next to us. Cause I know that they don’t have a hand that’s in the national weather service chat room.

So I just let them know over. Those two other counties, uh, Hey, uh, I can reach your repeater from where I’m at. So if I hear warnings and stuff, um, for that affects your area, I’ll turn my beam your way and I’ll announce it over to your repeater, if that’s all right with you guys. And they’re like, Oh yes, please do.

What do you need from us? I said, well, I said, when, when the weather’s coming, if any of you have a weather station, uh, because that’s what the national weather service asked for. They asked for measured weather reports. I said, uh, you can let me know that you have measured weather and. Or if any of your hands see any of these following items and it was what’s called reporting criteria.

And so what would happen is, so I would have my Montgomery County, which is my County, uh, Houston County guys. And then I have one guy that’s in Stewart County and those guys could then if they see something happening, weather related, They could call me. And so I became a liaison between the hands of the County and the national weather service.

And, uh, add one ham, ask, you know, Hey, I want an account too. And you know, and all the groups like, yeah, we all want one. And I had to kind of explain to them, it’s a thing where they don’t want too many people because you can’t have everybody be lays ons. Cause then it’s not a liaison anymore than everybody is.

And the room gets pretty full during an event. So what we did was, um, we kind of decided on location around the County. I’m the furthest Western guy in my County. And so I looked at the furthest Eastern guide, the farthest Northern guy, and I was. Just you’re spreading ourselves out. So in case I became in the effected area where I lost power, or I needed to go to my tornado shelter.

Um, then one of the other fellows could pick it up. And so, um, I contacted the national weather service and it was able to get a few more accounts, um, for these other hams that were spread out from myself. And so, uh, that’s, that’s pretty much it, in a nutshell, the, when I know the weather’s coming, uh, I’m able to.

Open sit right here in the computer where I’m at, get on the national weather service, which you can’t see my McKay where my camera position is. All my radios are stacked up here on the shelves. And, um, that’s, that’s it. I started taking reports from hams. I keep a log. Now I keep a notepad and pen here to shack, and I actually got on a spreadsheet and made a, made a log for logging, that kind of information.

And, uh, and I save it. And then, um, Now I might type it up later and save that just in case it’s asked for later on, because sometimes, um, some of your logs through that could be subpoenaed, um, as part of proof or evidence when they have, uh, uh, homes that are damaged and they need to come in and, you know, state of emergencies when they file a, for a state of emergency or additional funding, that kind of stuff.

I’ve never seen it happen, but I’ve been told it could. So we keep that up potential. Isn’t there. Oh is the potential, so that’s, that’s it in a nutshell there, John? No. Now looking at your region, ed, what, what infrastructure is available? I presume to media radios, seven, seven 70 centimeters. What, uh, what other tools are in your toolbox for him?

Radio in the community as a County now it’s changed. Um, we did, we had a. Yeah, two, two meter repeaters and one 70 centimeter repeater here, local and, uh, unfortunately are 70 centimeter. And one of our two meters that was on the same tower went down and, uh, it’s been a, a long. Uh, a long journey or trying to get those back up.

And the, uh, the send me centimeter repeater happened to be on what’s called emptiers the middle Tennessee emergency repeater system. And that’s a series of linked repeaters that goes across the entire state. And so the people that are in the national weather service chatroom, they also have liaison on that.

And, um, so unfortunately I’ve not been able to reach that here, uh, in over a year. Um, but because of. I’m in the chat room. I can type on there to the liaison. Hey, I can’t reach the, the MTS chat, but I’m here Montgomery. County’s up. And she’s kind enough to say sounds great, ed. Thanks for letting us know you there.

Any information you have just put it here and we’ll take it from here. Like, okay, awesome. Because normally what’s happening is they’re reporting it on the 70 centimeter. Linked to repeater system. So we’re down to one repeater. Um, but in the Aires practices that we’ve done, um, we have, um, we’ve practiced enough on two meters with repeater.

And then also after we do a net on a repeater, we’ll do a simplex net. So we pretty much know who can talk to who. And so, uh, if there’s a time of emergency and I start. And I open up a weather net on the repeater. Part of my script covers. If we lose the repeater, then please report to one, four, six dot five eight zero.

And, um, um, relays will be very much needed to pass information.

Thank you very much, Ed, for coming on the show. I really appreciate you highlighting your role. What inspired you to become a ham and what you’re doing now to keep the community safe? I appreciate it.

John. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.

You’ve been listening to ed whiskey for echo Mike Bravo from Tennessee, and he shares with us his experience during a major flood in his community as a new ham. I’m your host, John Bicgnell, Victor echo one Juliet Mike Bravo. Remember in times of crisis and natural disaster, amateur radio is often used as a means of emergency communication.

When all other conventional methods of communication have failed, the last wire podcast will profile and share stories of hams who have volunteered their amateur radio knowledge and equipment for communication duty. When disaster strikes, if you have a story to share, we want to hear from you, send us your story at john@lastwirelastwire.ca until next time, this is Victor echo one Juliet Mike Bravo.


Visit Ed W4EMB on his YouTube Channel.


Retired Army looking for hobbies to keep me busy. I like to live stream for fun. Donations are welcome if you wish to support my channel in that fashion.

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