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By: N2PHI , 7:40 PM GMT on July 07, 2014
Barrington, NJ – Camden County Amateur Radio Emergency Services group that directly supports Camden County Office of Emergency Management was invited to participate in Field Day with the Barrington Office of Emergency Management. The field day site was located at the Woodland School, which is a middle school which happened to be closed now that the school year was complete and kids were off on summer break. Upon arrival at the site, we checked in with the Coordinating Field Day Manager Jim Tieman, WA2WUN. Upon checking in we conducted a quick survey of the site. Other operators were arriving on site as well to begin setting up their stations as well.
We located a series of old telephone poles that were not being used by the school and determined they would be a good support for our multiband Alpha Delta DX-CC dipole. We began to deploy a 50 Ft piece of rope with a monkey’s fist on the end and tried to heave the weighted ball up and over the pole arm supports. We realized the rope was quite long enough or heavy enough. Fortunately the group had a potato gun of sorts that was able to shoot a short piece of PVC pipe with some eye hooks to tie off too. We connected our thin rope to it and quickly shot it up and over well clear of any obstruction. We hoist the antenna in the air using 3/32 zip cord rope but felt after that this rope maybe to thin too so I went to home depot and purchased some thicker rope and also lag eye bolts for screwing into the pole for easy raising and lower of dipole. We found out without it that the rope kept tangling on the wooden pole and causing tremendous wood burn in wood from stressed rope.
Once raised we made some on air contacts to see if everything was working fine. As it turned out once the Field Day got underway another station on site was suppressing our signal which limited out ability to make contacts. We were working 15 meters and the other station on 20 Meters. His stations consisted of a 3 element Yagi on a tower up around 40 feet. Another issue with found out after discussing as well is that this school field is used as a local medevac site. At the time it was unsure whether or not anyone had notified the correct agency that this site would be unavailable for use with all the antennas strung about.
Looking back, some of the lessons learned are pretty obvious. Having been a firefighter a number of years back we always talked a lot about preplanning and conducting site surveys prior to being called to a site that you never been. It would be in ever ham or clubs best interest that if you plan to use a particular site for field day, head out to the site a few weeks before hand, check to make sure tree’s that were cut back last year, didn’t regrow into areas you intended to use. Or the weeds and bushes didn’t pop up blocking access and if the field you intend to use is not used by first responders in case of an emergency that they need to fly someone out. Also check for other overhead obstructions. Our site backed up to the NJ Turnpike and if a serious wreck were to occur in the vicinity, it would be possible this site we we’re using had to be utilized by the Medevac and we certainly would not want to hamper the chance for them to save someone’s life. Know before you go and you may be able to plan for a better deployment as well as know what tools and equipment you will need prior to going. But again in a post disaster setting you may not have the luxury. Prepare for the worse and hope for the best.
Rick Tighe – N2PHI
Camden County, NJ
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