The above photo shows President Bush thanking W2IK (Bob) for his service during the 2001 World Trade Center Disaster, where he provided vital radio support for several days, communicating without rest, from "Ground Zero"
W2IK - First responder at WTC 9/11 "ground zero". WAS/DXCC and more. Commercial FCC Licensed since I was a high school student back in 1967. Ex-AEC and OES. Taught dozens of ham radio classes and acted as a VE testing hundreds of would-be hams. Published over 45 ham radio related webpages covering many aspects of ham radio including emergency communications, antennas, family preparedness, special events stations, contests and field setup and operations. Activated three lighthouses on Long Island during ARLHS events and during mini-DXpeditions including the "Mile Beach March" during the very first Cedar Island (Point)lighthouse operation where I had to backpack all my gear and supplies a mile along a beach route just to operate. Several top USA finishes during several states' "QSO Parties". Held operations to activate rare counties for county hunter's group.
Ex-NAVMC MARS STATION (NNN0KSI) and NNN0GBY2 (Incharge of ECOM STX Area)
1986 - Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electro-Mechanical service industry
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 AAVT "ARTICLE OF THE YEAR" AWARD for best technical article
1984 - CERTIFIED AUDIO-VISUAL SERVICE ENGINEER
My new antenna designs include the "W2IK Desk Buddy" which is a slick looking two-meter antenna to help those who can't put up an outdoor antenna. (live in apartments, etc) It can be found at:
W2IK VHF DESK BUDDY
When the space shuttle broke up over Texas, I designed this special "Man Pack" so rescue workers could communicate while searching for debris. It can be found at:
Manpack Radio System For Search and Rescue - W2IK
When hurricane Katrina hit, I designed, built and supplied emergency communicators with special antennas (I supplied 10 of these at no cost). The designs can be found at:
Telescoping VHF pt 1
Telescoping VHF pt 2
Telescoping VHF pt 3
Publish "W2IK's Emergency Communications Guide" covering all aspects of emergency communications. This guide is NOT FOR SALE but can be obtained via my website. Not written as a commercial venture so I don't make money from it. Available on CD or Booklet. Currently being used for training by many ARES groups throughout the US. Almost 100 pages of the soon-to-be released 400 page new Canadian EmComm training were taken from my training guides.
Read my 7 part Ecom series: "EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS IN THE POST WTC 9/11 ERA"
(The Desperate Need For A New Beginning):
(A New ECOMM Course "A"):
(A New ECOMM Course "B"):
(Terrorism - ECOMM Response "A"):
(Terrorism - ECOMM Response "B"):
(Thinking On Your Feet - Coping With The Unexpected):
"We, as amateur radio operators, desperately need to start from scratch in both the fields of preparedness and communications if we are to remain ahead of the challenges that can be thrust upon us at any moment. Old rules and old training no longer apply. Anyone who thinks that by dusting off outdated training manuals or adding a few paragraphs here and there to existing guides will make their kind of training adequate during a terrorist event is living in a fantasy world. These people or groups are both blind and foolish. This includes the "new" ARRL EMCOMM training courses. Harsh words? Perhaps. But how harsh the penalty of not being properly prepared and trained for the next event? Parameters have changed to such a degree that we need to be trained differently and become ready in the latest aspects of emergency communications. This can partially be accomplished by listening to progressive and experienced communicators in developing both the training and the means to properly support their communities during events such as terrorist attacks. Those of us who have actually been in the "terrorist trenches" of emergency communications can tell you one thing: Old rules no longer apply. It is also important for people to realize that unless you've "eaten dirt" in emergency communications you have no business training others by writing, theorizing and instructing. Those who have developed training programs without actually having been confronted with real emergencies have little truths to offer and little in the way of guiding new communicators. It's a shame that when some groups were developing their training they never stopped to ask for the knowledge from experienced emergency communicators. This series is attempting to correct that very serious error by giving you information based on real-world experience."
I'll never say things just to be your "pal". I'll never b.s. to win your approval or get a "plastic title". I'll say and do things to make you a better ham, regardless of what anyone might think. I'm the guy you'd want in your fox-hole watching your back in an emergency. Although I was thought of as a valuable asset during all my countless deployments back in New York, and was an AEC, Training Instructor,OO and OES on Long Island, when I moved to San Antonio, Texas, I was originally denied ARES membership by the Bexar County ARES "Good old boys'(and girl) club" when all I wanted to be was a "grunt worker" and not a "title". At that time, they lacked the vision and courage to correct their many mistakes. I am now a local ARES member. I assist groups all over the country by supplying information and antenna plans and during emergencies I've even supplied emergency antennas for over 25 ARES groups. (I DO NOT sell antennas. These groups I helped out were exceptions.) My ENVIS antenna system (Emergency NVIS Portable antenna) has been copied and used all over the world. If you want the full plans, just ask.
In early 2005, I conducted the first "Jump Team Boot Camp" to field train EmComm communicators for REAL emergencies. NOT A DESK-TOP drill, but a real "get down and (very) dirty, do everything" three day boot camp covering all aspects of EmComm/Ecom for both hams and MARS operators so they will be able to deploy to any location to create an operational communications system where NOTHING might be left standing. This included field station setup and operation ("soup to nuts") and basic survival training. I have repeated this field training for hams each year, costing me hundreds of dollars, but I do it so hams can learn emergency communications the proper way..
Read my latest web page series about creating a functional EmComm "Jump Team" from scratch, which will be able to deploy during an extreme emergency where there may not be anything standing. This web page series is the first of it's kind and was written at the request of several EmComm groups from around the US. It can be found at by emailing me at my QRZ email address. Here is just a small piece of it:
SITE SURVEY – An Important Detail For Longer-Term (over three days) Emergency Communications Deployment
TAUGHT AS PART OF OUR “JUMP TEAM BOOT CAMP” session
by Bob Hejl W2IK
How and where you erect any operating, sleeping and cooking structures is very important. This also includes areas for erecting any antennas. This is why when you get to a location and decide upon a general area, you first must do a through site survey. This is especially true if your team does a full-scale tent deployment and not a deployment using existing free-standing buildings. One of the most important things to consider is: Will this emergency intensify, such as will there be additional rains or wind in the short-term future while you are deployed? Even if you do choose to use an existing building, you need to do site survey.
Threat Assessment -
- Will there be drainage for additional rains or will your operation be flooded out or will you have to sleep in soaked sleeping bags like I had to do once in the 1980s in the Virgin Islands because the team leader decided on the wrong area for placement of the communications team?
- An existing building may become flooded or cut off from access or evacuation so include this possibility in your survey. NEVER accept a structure that looks in poor shape. A mistake could cost you your lives.
- A road to any building or operations area may become a river that will flood out any building when you least expect it.
- Always choose an area which is on higher ground than the surrounding plain and NOT near any stream or river or their associated flood plains. You can usually tell about where the flood plain is by observation. Along streams there will be what’s known as a “debris line”. On flat terrain, this could be hundreds of yards from the stream itself. This is the highest area that has been recently flooded. Stay FAR AWAY from any debris line, as the emergency you might be deploying for, will have greater flooding potential than the average heavy rain.
- Areas near a dry creek bed should be avoided because a dry creek bed can be flash-flooded and you along with it. I have seen one of these creek beds flood out to a half-mile wide river in a matter of minutes. High winds can cause trees to come crashing down when already saturated roots give way so keep away from large trees. Yes, they may make handsome places to string up an antenna, but at what cost?
- If there is a threat of wildfires, will you be far enough away so that evacuation of your communications site will not be needed? I actually had to evacuate a site because the wind changed direction and the wildfire, with flames over 150 feet high, ended up engulfing the communications spot we were given.
- If you find yourself deploying during a winter storm, will your area be smothered in snow drifts or will you be in the clear?
- Look at the ground for prints of any animals which might cause problems should they wander into your camp. I have had deer eat antenna coax in the middle of the night. (Keep any cables out of their reach) Interlopers such as bears, mountain lions, skunks, etc., should also be looked out for. During one event, we had rifles "on the ready" because we could hear mountain lions in the distance, getting closer. During the period before the event they had killed almost 30 sheep on a local ranch! Need I say: "Use proper gun safety at all times."
- Keep away from any "community dump" areas where trash may accumulate as this kind of stuff invites unwelcome visitors.
- Also keep away from piles of branches or timbers (and debris lines) because you never know what may be living in them. Snakes, spiders and scorpions like to live in those areas.
- I always like to rake out the chosen area first, so I can see if there are things such as fire-ant mounds. If there are, re-locate to another area. You can’t do a 100% kill of fire ant mounds overnight.
- Meticulously inspect any area where you might both operate from or set up your generator or antenna system, for plants which are "skin irritants" such as poison ivy or poison oak. The surface oils on the leaves of these plants can easily wreck havoc with your operation, (Remember to keep both antihistamine and DAWN dish washing soap in your cache of supplies). Dawn will easily remove these oils from your skin. This is the ONLY degreaser I use.
- Some operations bring gas powered "weed whackers" to trim down higher grassy areas. Be careful that you don't disturb and animals or insects living there.
- A special note about chiggers........ In the summer these "devil insects" can and will put you out of business fast. Never knowing about them on Long Island, when I moved to Texas and did an operation in a grassy area, I was bitten on my feet and legs by over 100 of these pests which I never saw. The pain was something I will always remember. If you are unsure that there might be chiggers in your area, douse yourself in repellent, tuck in all areas around your socks and....... pray!
Effective Site Layout - When you do a site survey, do what our ancestors did: Ring your communications compound (your tents) like a wagon train. That will make short routes to any structure, but make sure each tent’s openings face the inside of the circle. You also do this for safety reasons. Everyone can watch every structure and in doing so will keep non-essential people (or animals) away.
Noise Abatement - Keep the communications tent away from the sleeping quarters with any speakers pointed away from the center of the compound so the sound of the radios do not keep resting ops awake. It is best to sketch out a diagram of where each structure will be located before site construction begins.
AFTER SITE SURVEY: Assembling Your Tent Structures
Setting up a tent can seem like a complex task especially for any first-time jump team member. Tents are a vital piece of emcomm gear, for sure, but many frustrated jump team members have cursed their tent as they've tried to set it up in the dark or during inclement weather without proper preparation. However, once you've set up a tent several times, it becomes a familiar routine that can easily be repeated even in the most difficult emcomm conditions, and once you've mastered setting up one kind of tent, it will then be easier to set up other kinds of tents, be they simple or complex. Remember that your tents (structures) are just as important as setting up your communications gear. After all, you will be living and working in them for many days. Here are some basic steps that will help you set up your tent structures quickly and efficiently.
Practice setting up your tent before you go to your duty site to deploy. Setting up your camping tent at least a couple times, directions in hand, before twilight is a good idea as you'll never know what time of day (or night) you'll be doing it for real. While some camping tents have simple designs, like family tents, other tents have complex designs, like dome tents, which will not be easy to assemble when it's dark and you're involved with other jump team duties.
First, find an area that is flat and free of sharp objects. Clear the area of any large sticks, rocks or other debris which could cause a rip or puncture in your tent or that would be uncomfortable to sleep on. This is all part of "site survey" as discussed in an earlier blog.
Spread an extra "ground tarp" (it won't come with the tent so remember to purchase one) on the area where you are going to erect the tent. Make sure you have full coverage of the tent's floor area.
Unpack the tent and all of its parts. Sort the parts of your camping tent into respective groups -- tent stakes, tent poles, rain fly and so on -- so you're not hunting for them as you set up the tent. I never use the cheap, small metal spikes that come with the tent. Since there will be a chance that you will be in an area which has saturated soil, purchase enough long plastic tent stakes that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
Unfold the tent and lay it in the respective area. Make sure it is facing the direction you desire. Remember that all your structures should be encircled like a wagon train configuration with all the doors facing inward as discussed in an earlier blog. Stake down the corners of your tent. If your tent has a ground cloth or a footprint (a tent footprint is simply a ground cloth shaped specially for your tent), set that down first.
Next, stake down your tent, making sure to pull the floor of the tent fairly taut as you do so. Big tents and family tents almost always have to be staked down, but some backpacking tents do not. This is a nice feature if you plan on camping where staking might be a problem, like on slick-rock in the American Southwest, but even free-standing tents should be staked down if possible or weighted down with gear inside the tent ASAP.
Most tents have to be staked before they'll stand up.Connect your tent poles. Tent poles usually come in sections that you put together. To ensure that you don't put the wrong sections together, the tent poles may be color-coded or numbered. If not, read the directions for your tent to find out how to tell the difference between different poles.
Assemble the frame of the tent. Tents come in a variety of different designs. Some tents are free-standing, like many dome tents, and use several poles that support each other, while other tents have simple two-pole designs and stand up only when the tent is staked down. However your tent works, actually erecting the frame of the tent will involve sliding the tent poles through sleeves on the outside of the tent or securing the ends of the poles in grommets at the base of the tent, and then attaching the body of the tent to the poles via clips Be careful when doing this as you do not want to puncture the tent.
Secure the rain-fly of the tent. Here's an interesting fact about tents: camping tents usually aren't waterproof. At least, the body of the tent itself is not waterproof. A few tents are (they're called single-wall tents), but they're usually expensive mountaineering tents that are uncomfortable for most normal situations. Most tents come with a waterproof cover called a rain-fly that secures over the top of the tent to protect it from the rain. If your tent has a rain-fly, secure it over the top of the tent. This usually involves fastening the corners of the rain-fly to cords that attach to the base of the tent, and may include additional clips or ties that attach to the tent poles. This type allows ventilation which makes it easier to sleep in.
Use another tarp to cover your tent structure as you know that you'll probably have additional rain and you do not want a leaking tent to put you off the air.
Set up each tent structure in the same way. I suggest you have a special tent for "toilet" use. These are smaller in area, yet stand about 6 feet tall. (They are often called "shower tents".) This allows you the ability to put a portable toilet in this type of tent. Use TWO ground cloths for this tent: one under the tent itself and another INSIDE the tent just in case your members have a "poor aim". I'd advise everyone to sit and not stand to do their "business".
I like to use 10'x10' "EZ UP"-type canopies for both operating and food prep areas. These canopies are usually NOT water proof so an additional tarp is required over the roof. I also use sidewalls that clip on and screened sides which allow ventilation during operation and cooking. Weather conditions may change during your deployment, so have the solid side walls on hand.
When you are finished deploying, carefully pack up your tents in the opposite manner in which they were assembled, BUT, when you get back home, you'll need to rinse off and thoroughly dry every tent and tarp so mold will not grow. Rinse the tents with a very diluted solution of bleach and water.
I WILL BE PUBLISHING A NEW BOOK: "EMCOMM AND YOU" , which will be a 250+ page book covering all aspects of emergency communications. It is due out this summer. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Currently working with a U.S. international airport (Dept Of Homeland Security) to set up and train for a MARS/HAM Emergency Station at their location. ***************************************************************
Supporting instruction of Preparedness and EmComm in India for the training of governmental staff.
"JUMP TEAM BOOT CAMP" 2013- Learn How To Deploy as a team and work towards a common Emergency Communications support goal........... NEVER any cost to participants beyond their travel expenses.
W2IK and The Bexar Operators Group (W5BOG) located in San Antonio, Texas, will again sponsor "Jump Team Boot Camp" in 2013, commencing in late October (Friday morning)and running through Sunday evening). Unlike last year's MARS orientated session, this year's "Boot Camp" will concentrate on amateur radio and the ways and means to get a "Jump Team" operational should there be a need to deploy some distance from your homeandcommunicate in the aftermath of a disaster. Just like last year's session, this will be an actual drive-and-operate operation and NOT a desktop drill.
Participants for this sessionwillmeet at acentral staging area. Pre-deployment maps will be given out at this time, although due to the nature of real emergencies alongany caravan route, driving directions may change due to "flooding" and other concerns so each vehicle must be equipped with 2 meter capabilities.
When the destination has been reached, all participants will assist in the construction of shelters and operating areas. We will be teaching the proper way to do a site evaluation before any structure is erected in order to avoid problems which could be encountered should weather take a turn for the worse (additional rains and/or high winds). Unlike last year, we will be supplying energy to operate using three types of power: gas generation, solar generation and wind turbine generation with instruction on the set up and operationeach system. Since it is important that every Jump Team member have a firm graspof all aspects of setting up and operating during an emergency, special emphasis will be placed on the logical sequence of setting up (structures, power and antennas),meeting nutritional requirements (basic cooking and meal planning), station operation and message logging/handlingand band propagation.
Along with instructions during each phase of setting up and operation, there will be short lectures and discussions. The true test of communicating during less than favorable conditions will be done on this weekend as this session coincides with the "CQ WW SSB" contest. This weekendwas chosen because it will help "train your ear" to listen for information you will need to "report" amid interference. We will also check in to various HF nets during our operation and pass mock traffic to stationswho will be awaiting our messages. All communications gear, antennas, shelters, instructional booklets and food will be provided. Participants will be given a short list of what they need to bring (personal items).
This eventwill belimited in the number of attendees. Also be aware that the actual destination will not be a local parkso like an actual emergency communications deployment we will have to bring everything that we need. This will be more rustic in nature than last year's boot camp. Cell phones, again this year, will NOT be allowed. All slots filled! Sorry...