LOW COUNTRY REGION
Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton, Jasper, Orangeburg
Aiken, Barnwell, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Richland, Saluda, York
PEE DEE REGION
Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter, Williamsburg
Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union
TESTING OF SCHEART SUPPORTED HOSPITAL RADIO ROOMS AND EQUIPMENT
Why test the antenna and radio?
Emergency exercises are frequently held to test the emergency preparedness plans of agencies. It is essential that the antennas and radios are in complete readiness during these drills. When routine tests are performed, problems are sometimes found with the antennas, coaxial cable runs, or the radios. Lightning strikes have damaged antennas, antenna connectors have become corroded, and problems can occur with the radios. Routine testing finds these problems and repairs then can be made to restore the system to full functionality.
So why is it so important to test the equipment and antennas? In the event of emergency involving injuries, amateur radio operators may be dispatched to some or all of the hospitals and agencies. The antenna drops are typically located in or near to the emergency room or the incident commander, so amateurs stationed at these locations are in an ideal position to communicate, using a net control operator, with amateurs who are located at the incident scene and/or with amateurs who are accompanying the squads transporting the victims. This provides an important back-up communications system in the event that normal communications by telephone is compromised.
When a SCHEART ham goes to a hospital or agency to test the antenna, the hospital radios are used instead of the ham’s personal equipment. So the complete system, both hospital antenna and hospital radio, is now tested to ensure that everything is working properly and ready to perform in case of an emergency.
Conducting the hospital antenna & radio test
In order to ensure that the antennas and amateur radio equipment are always available and fully operable when needed in an emergency, it is necessary to test the system on a regular basis.
SCHEART members should test each location’s antenna and radio once at least every six months, and report the findings to the hospital EM or SCHEART coordinator. If any problems are detected, they can be immediately addressed.
When an amateur goes to the hospital to perform a periodic check, he or she should have a pencil 3 or pen to fill in the test information in the hospital log book. If the amateur owns a VHF SWR meter, it should be taken along to check the antenna SWR. The SWR measurements over time can provide an indication of antenna degradation. The checks should ideally be performed during the first full week of the month.
The general procedures for hospital checks are as follows:
1. Use your hospital approved procedure to gain access and or SCHEART or SC ARES ID.
2. Go to the hospital ham radio station.
3. Connect to the hospital antenna drop and activate the equipment.
4. Visual inspection of the antenna from ground level.
5. Visual inspection of the power wiring and feed line at the radio.
6. Visual inspection of all accessories (microphone, headphones, etc.).
7. Check for station supplies and report any deficiencies.
8. Turn power supply on (assuming that it is not already on). Check meters/gauges for proper readings.
9. Turn radio on. Check for expected operation..
10. Test the antenna by keying the radio on a local SCHEART repeater. If someone is listening, request a signal report. If no one is listening, confirm that the repeater is activated. Then try to make a contact on a more distant SCHEART repeater.
11. Check the radio site for the presence of white loose leaf notebook (Log Book). Fill in log sheet in this book with the results of your test.
12. Check the SWR if a meter is available.
13. Check for, and note in the log book, if the following are available: Log Book, writing surface to work on, chair or stool for operator to use at writing surface, and emergency power outlet (colored red) within reach of ham radios. Include any positive comments regarding hospital personnel, and mention the weather conditions (helpful in analyzing SWR changes).
14. Report any needed repairs to the station owner. If you find issues with the SCHEART repeater send a report to W3KH@ARRL.NET
15. Return radio to the standard configuration (If the radio is used as a digipeater, leave one side on in digipeater mode).
16. Secure the room.
Be a better communicator! Read the Ten Tips from “Bart’s Basics” to be a better communicator under the “About” section, including: Do you have a minimal “Go Kit” in your car for emergencies? Time is critical in an emergency. To be effective you must be able to be on your way at short notice.
Check this posting each week prior to net for information on training or training topics. The net needs additional net control operators contact John, W3KH. The net preamble is posted on the web site in the ”About” section. This will give you the information you need to be a net control operator or an alternate net control operator. Thanks, John, W3KH.