Professional Volunteer communicators linking the community in time of need

There is a need for well trained and capable emergency personnel in Australia and the Wireless Institute of Australia has brought together many elements of the amateur radio service to serve the community when required.

WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) operating at National and State levels, brings a coherent approach to emergency preparedness.

WICEN Bundaberg, as part of this Australia-wide affiliation is a non-government, self financed, volunteer-based organisation sponsored by the Bundaberg Amateur Radio Club.

WICEN maintains a voice communications capability flexible enough to be utilised for communication within an agency or between two agencies. Situations where such a service might be required are:

  1. Where an agency does not maintain their own communications capability.
  2. Where two agencies who need to communicate do not share a common communications medium.
  3. Where the normal communications media have become overloaded or non-functional.
  4. Where a separate communications channel becomes desirable e.g. to segment traffic functionally to reduce the need of operators to monitor traffic of no concern to them.

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WICEN gratefully acknowledges the assistance of SES Bundaberg

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We are privileged to retain a radio shack within the SES HQ by the kind permission of Council and the SES Controller

The range of frequency bands at WICEN’s disposal is exceeded only by the military and allows us to select the best band for a particular task.

WICEN has radio equipment that is portable and self-contained, able to be quickly deployed wherever it is required whilst at the same time operating a powerful base station at the SES Headquarters in Kendalls Road with VHF, UHF & HF capabilities.

Through the ongoing support of the Bundaberg Regional Council WICEN also maintains telephone and internet links at the Base of operations at SES HQ with links to Council and Emergency Service networks.

The Bundaberg Amateur Radio Club maintains 3 Repeater sites at;
Mt Goonaneman (near Childers); The Bundaberg Repeater (on The Hummock); and a northern Repeater on Mt Watalgan.

WICEN can utilize these hilltop repeaters to establish VHF & UHF networks extending from Burrum Heads in the south; West to Childers and Gin Gin and as far North as Winfield, to link the region and facilitate handling of emergency radio traffic.

Three Portable Emergency Amateur Radio Station Cases each containing antennas for VHF, UHF and HF are easily deployed by the operators. WICEN members train regularly in the use of the Portable Stations and can be deployed to operate the equipment alongside any other agency. This can relieve the staff of the agency being supported, of the mechanics of actually transmitting a message. However, person to person radio conversations can easily be established.

As well as maintaining traffic logs, WICEN operators are trained in procedures to handle “formal” radio traffic which provides the agency/client with an audit trail of how and when a message moved through a WICEN network.

Although it is a volunteer organisation, many of WICEN’s operators have worked or are working in the Radio, Electronics, Electrical and IT industries. This gives WICEN’s networks additional robustness as fault finding and repair expertise is ready to hand in the event of a failure.

WICEN’s systems are designed to operate without 240v mains power. Batteries are used to power the equipment, and generators are available to charge the batteries should mains power be unavailable for longer periods.

We have a written agreement with Century Battery (North Bundaberg) for the supply of batteries free of charge to all WICEN operators in the event of any emergency situation affecting or likely to affect our region.

 The Amateur Radio operator today is highly skilled and holds a Licence only after extensive training, study and examinations overseen by the ACMA. The Amateur studies Theory and Regulations and must pass graded, written examinations as well as an extensive practical assessment before they are permitted to operate the equipment and undertake Amateur Radio has a hobby.

It is from these accomplished Amateurs that WICEN draws its members.

2012 has seen WICEN tested in exercise scenarios organised by the District Disaster Management Group and evaluated by Emergency Management Queensland and we are proud to say the deployment of portable stations and execution of our tasks to a very high degree.


WICEN Bundaberg has been a part of emergency and disaster management plans for the Bundaberg region for many years and can fulfil the following roles.

Communications for the community

WICEN has a role in provisioning communications to the community when Telstra are unable to provide links.

In the event that normal telephone communications were destroyed, or simply required by the combating agencies, WICEN can provide a two way voice message service for the general public that does not rely on the Landline telephone or Mobile phone systems.

The accute problem of congestion if not total breakdown of communications is being experienced by Welfare Agencies so having an agency able to fill the gap until systems are restored to normal is highly desirable.

As there is a tendency in disaster management plans to evacuate the public to centres not affected by the emergency, there will remain a need for publicly accessible communications in an affected area during the early recovery stage.

Message sending would be considered vital for an Agency caring for evacuees or considered welfare if an evacuee receives infromation on a relative or pet. Either way the community is strengthened by this vital operational link


Relief Operators

WICEN radio operators can be utilised to relieve other agency personnel operating radios and release them for tasks more specific to their own agency.

WICEN operators are practiced at voice procedures for radio systems as well as the logging of traffic required in an emergency situation.

With a solid background in general radio communications equipment and procedures, WICEN operators have little difficulty in adapting to the equipment, voice procedure and log keeping standards of other agencies.

2011 saw the implementation of additional nationally accredited training instigated by the Wireless Institute of Australia meaning operators can now achieve Certificate II in Public Safety (SES Operations) so that they are recognised as competent to enter the workplace of other agencies, organisations or Government institutions.

Assisting Agencies with Training Exercise

WICEN can provide communications for agencies wishing to conduct Training Exercises.

This can be particularly valuable as it provides a communication channel to the organisers which the participants cannot easily monitor.

WICEN could be utilised to provide communications for the ‘umpires‘ of a training exercise while the participants used their agency’s normal communications systems.


Conclusion

WICEN’s strength is its flexibility. Although we train with systems we have developed over the years, these systems are flexible enough to adapt to a variety of situations.

If necessary WICEN can deploy a Statewide HF communications system that does not require a hilltop infrastructure. Our technical expertise means that if and when we are activated we can adapt or develop our systems to meet an emerging need.

As such WICEN Bundaberg is happy to put our expertise at the disposal of local agencies that have identified a communications need and wish to develop a system to address it.

Agencies should contact the WICEN Bundaberg Controller from the contact information listed below.



Further information on the WIA is available @ www.wia.org.au and on

WICEN in other states at the National WICEN Home Page @ www.wicen.org.au

email

WICEN Controller,
Ross Orpin
Phone: 07 4155 2665

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Deputy Controller,
Gail Lidden
Phone: 07 4152 6482

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Postal Address:

WICEN Bundaberg
P.O. Box 129
Bundaberg Qld 4670