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Hurricane Thomas

Dear fellow contesters,

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

Only days after the incident itself the full bandwidth of distruction began to unfold, as more news started to trickle in from the affected areas.
Destroyed telecommunication systems and disrupted roadways made it
impossible to get the word out and what we heard within the first few days, often came on HF radio.
Especially St. Jucia J6 suffered the worst, and i was able to follow some
of the information, when stations from J6, some actually in the affected areas as part of a disaster relief teams, were able to communicate on 3815 and give summaries of the situation as well as communicate with their respective Emergency Operations Centres.

During the weekend Oct 30./31. 2010 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 treasurer, Noel Donawa 9Y4NED, shortly after the incident.
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 local organizations, authorities or the IARU. Therefore i took it up on myself as a known active contester
to appeal to ALL CONTESTERS and contesting organizations to self-regulate their activities, respectively train their members accordingly.
Dear Contester,
before you enter the next contest, please observe the following:

- Check your news (TV, WWW, Newspapers) for any disasters which may
require emergency communication on ham radio frequencies
- Check publications in the internet for emergency frequencies in
the affected region

- Do not transmit on those frequencies, unless you are SURE that you
don't disturb any emergency traffic
- If you operate "split", make sure both your RX and TX frequencies
do not interfere with emergency traffic

I sincerely hope that we all can agree to the procedure above and
i strongly believe that we will enjoy our competitions even more once we are appreciated by the rest of the amateur radio fraternity.
Andreas "Andy" Kretzschmar, 9Y4W

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