Emergency communications during the Contest


in the wake of Hurricane “TOMAS” several Caribbean Islands from Martinique to Tobago were seriously affected by heavy impact of storm and rain.

Only 2 days after the incident itself the full bandwidth of destruction begins to unfold, as more news trickle in from the affected areas. Destroyed telecommunication systems and disrupted roadways made it impossible to get the word out and what we hear now comes (often) on HF radio. Especially St. Jucia J6 suffered the worst, and i was able to follow some of the information earlier this evening, when stations from J6, one actually in the area of Souffriere as part of a disaster relief team, were able to communicate on 3815 and give summaries of the situation as well as communicate with their respective Emergency Operations Centre in Castries. So far one family with 2 children were killed when their house came down in a land slide. Up to 12 people are believed to be killed alone in that area, this is yet to be confirmed.

During the weekend this disaster communication was seriously impacted on both 3815 and 7162 kHz by the activities of the CQWW SSB contest. I personally observed during my “downtime” a DXpedition station in the northern caribbean working split with EU on 3815 and it was difficult to convince the OP to QSY. This station was of cause not the only one to cause serious disruptions to the Emergency Net. Several stations from EU were either working “reverse-split” by mistake or transmitted out of band
intentionally. Some of them were unable to receive any call from here, but due to their excessive power they caused tremendous QRM.

The incident has already alerted officials of the IARU Region 2 and letters will be sent out to several contest comittees to put pressure on them. This was brought to my attention by the IARU R2 reasurer, Noel Donawa 9Y4NED, earlier this evening.

I can’t give them wrong because what i observed there was, if not rude and careless, at least quite inconsiderate.

There is no excuse for overriding such communication in the “heat” of the contest. We all have to remember that Amateur Radio can save lives and property, even if it is not as important anymore in developed countries. We will hopefully never again experience a hurricane making landfall during the CQWW weekend, but there may be other disaster situations anywhere in the world, which make it necessary that certain frequencies have to be kept clear for emergency communication. I believe every serious contester has to show goodwill and considerate behaviour, as we claim to be the most experienced and best equipped group of the amateur radio fraternity and some even go as far as considering contesting as the best training for emergency communication.

We as active contesters can very well do without more stringent regulations coming from the IARU. Therefore i will take it up on myself as a known active contester to appeal to as many as possible contesting organizations to self-regulate their activities and train their members accordingly.

I need your help to gather as many e-mail addresses as possible from officials of contest clubs and similar organizations in order to spread my appeal as far as possible. You are kindly asked to contribute those names of officials, e-mail addresses or Web links and send them to my e-mail address


We also need to collect a list of world wide emergency frequencies. Anyone who has sources on hand especially for Region 1, is asked to contribute that information.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and contributions.


Andreas “Andy” Kretzschmar, 9Y4W
Vice President Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Radio Society

Video Aerial Helicopter view (See below): St. Lucia .. Anse La Rae, Soufriere , South Start thinking about how we can help – St. Lucia will need it. Spread the word about how bad this is. The Coast Guard is picking up bodies from the sea. Roads for the most part are gone or covered in mud and rock slides.

Some houses are gone, damaged… Not seeing many people at all… where are all the people?!.


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