A review of Franklin County Ohio ARES (COARES) History & Heritage
By Bob Adams – W8BKO, past COARES EC
As a member of the COARES, you are a part of an organization that has been a responsive service provider to the Central Ohio community for 30 years. Our group was started in 1964 under the leadership of Dick Egbert, W8ETU, as EC. Initially, we operated under the joint auspices of AREC (the original designation for what is now the ARES) and RACES, with the rather cumbersome name of “The Franklin County Amateur Radio Emergency Corps and the Columbus and Franklin County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service“.
Current members who were active 25 to 30 years ago include:
Other familiar calls active at that time are W8LT (the OSU Radio Club) and K8DDG, Roger Barnett, who was very active with the group but developed cancer at an early age. We were fortunate to be able to preserve his call for the club. I hope I haven’t missed anyone, but calls change and the early records are incomplete.
In the beginning, our communication services were primarily in support of Franklin County Civil Defense (the grandfather of the EMA) and the Columbus Police, primarily through the “Halloween Patrol” and for liaison with Franklin County CD. Most of the official communications were conducted on 10 and 6 meters (fixed, portable, mobile, and handie-talkie), although by 1967 there was limited (3 members) use of 2-meter simplex. There were weekly training nets on 10 and 6, with emphasis on formal message handling and liaison with NTS, and occasional drills with Franklin County CD. The only general “public service” communication, of which I can find a record prior to 1968, was the Amateur Radio Booth at the Ohio State Fair.
In 1968, W8ETU resigned as EC and turned the post over to W8ERD. Dick, if memory serves me correctly, went on to become the SCM for Ohio and later Director of the ARRL Great Lakes Division.
If we look at the activities of the group in 1969 (25 years ago), we find the style of operation was significantly different from that today. To start things off, nearly 80% of the group participated in the annual SET. If we could get that level of activity today, we could have the highest score in the nation.
Late in January, Civil Defense requested assistance in connection with a flood in the Wonderland Addition. In short order, the station at the EOC was operational, mobiles were in place at Wonderland, portable stations were set up at the airport in both Building 12 and the Firehouse. In addition, W8LT was activated as a possible relay station.
In April, CD requested mobile communication assistance in the move of a large generator from the old EOC at Hoover Dam to the new EOC in southeast Columbus.
In May, the police, fire, and rescue services of Franklin County held a joint training session simulating response to a civil disturbance. Since the radios of the official agencies could not intercommunicate, Civil Defense asked our group to provide the liaison. This may have been a fortuitous exercise, because in July the group was asked to respond to a real riot situation on the near east side. Portable stations were set up at the Police Department and the station at the Civil Defense EOC was activated. The formal traffic was primarily between these two locations. 29 of the 42 members (70%) were either assigned or standing by on one of the two nets in case they were needed.
Finally, in September, we provided communications for a National Car Rally which ran from Columbus to Chillicothe and return. Other than the State Fair Booth, this is the first record I have found of the use of our communication in a general public service function that did not involve an official agency.
In 1970, 2-meter FM continued to increase in popularity, although 10 and 6 remained the major bands for the AREC/RACES group. A two-meter repeater was installed in Columbus, and the Central Ohio Radio Club was formed. That year saw our first participation in the American Cancer Society Drive, provided in memory of Roger Barnett, as well as a few other public service activities. There was also a major disturbance on the OSU campus which resulted in an official request for our communication assistance.
In 1971 we participated in our first TOSRV communications. In June, Marysville was hit by a severe thunderstorm. Power lines were down, and most of the area was without commercial power. Telephone service was inoperative into and out of the area. Both Franklin County CD and the Red Cross requested our assistance. Stations were activated at CD and Red Cross headquarters in Columbus, and portable and mobile stations were dispatched to Marysville. Operations were conducted on 10, 6, and 2, with extensive use of the CORC repeater (then 146.34 in and 146.76 out). Our communications provided all of the official traffic between Marysville and Columbus throughout the night and until 6:00 p.m. the next day when telephone communication was restored.
In addition, in 1971, our group became officially incorporated as the “Central Ohio AREC/RACES Membership, Inc.” Also, CORC offered to establish another repeater on 146.31/.91 which would give priority to AREC training exercises and emergency communications. A third (2-meter) net was added to the official list. Late in 1971, State CD asked us to provide qualified radio operators to man their EOC. Finally, for the record, this is the year I joined the organization.
1972 marked a major transition in the organization. As we gradually agreed to assist other agencies and activities, the Franklin County Civil Defense Director became more and more possessive of “his” communicators. Finally, he issued an edict that we could provide communications only after his specific authorization. The group spent several months trying to assure him that we would provide the assistance he needed but that we reserved the right to serve other agencies as the need arose. This was not acceptable to him. Several meetings of the group were held in an attempt to find a way to break the impasse. The majority felt we could not arbitrarily restrict our services. At the same time, there was general agreement that the Amateur Community should, in some way, continue to support the communication needs of Franklin County CD. Ultimately, the group agreed to split, with some members continuing as RACES communicators dedicated to the requirements of FCC, while the rest continued as AREC serving the other communication needs of the community. The AREC group pledged to provide auxiliary support to RACES if the need arose. The public identification of the AREC group then became the Central Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Corps.
Late in 1972, we responded to a Red Cross request for communication support in connection with a train derailment on the west side. Three tank cars, including one filled with anhydrous ammonia, were overturned. Residents were evacuated from a sixteen-block area. Four stations assisted at the scene, and other stations were set up at Mt. Carmel Hospital, at the evacuation center, at the Red Cross warehouse, and at Red Cross headquarters. Fortunately, the cars were set upright without incident in less than 12 hours. In addition to several other public service events, the year marked the first of our communications for the infamous Cancer Society Treasure Hunt. It is also the year another current member, Dave Lewis (K8DL, then K8MLO), first showed up on the roster.
The first installment of this series, as published in the July issue of the Bulletin, covered the more significant activities of our organization through 1972, its eighth year. This edition will pick up the story with 1973.
After the somewhat turbulent period in the previous year, 1973 seemed almost tranquil. Of particular note, the January roster showed that our current EC, WB8INY, had joined the ranks. John may well have actually joined in 1972, as the last several bulletins for that year did not include a roster.
1973 marks the first extensive use of two meters in our TOSRV communications. Note, this was done on simplex. A kilowatt two-meter amplifier was used at Scioto Trail State Park. This amplifier was switchable between a beam pointed north, an omni for the mid area, and a beam pointed south. This frequency handled most of the communications from the route, although some relaying was required. Most of the mobile stations along the route made use of a portable mast with a beam or collinear antenna. Ten meters was used to communicate between the food stops, and six meters was reserved for stations participating from Ross and Pike counties.
There was another flood in the Wonderland Addition. We provided assistance at the request of Franklin County RACES, but the emergency was over in about five hours. 1973 marked the end of our six-meter net activity, although a six-meter frequency was retained for liaison between State CD, Franklin County CD, and the Red Cross. The TOSRV organization was so impressed with the two-meter communications that, near the end of the year, they offered to make a significant contribution toward the purchase of a two-meter portable repeater.
1974 is most remembered as the year of the Xenia Tornado. The disaster struck in the late afternoon of Wednesday, April 3. Almost immediately, the AREC alert went out, and soon both the two-meter and ten-meter nets were in full operation. By 7:30 that evening, W8SGT was activated at State DSA. Shortly thereafter, K8DDG was activated at Red Cross Headquarters. At the request of Red Cross, a team of eight AREC members was assembled to accompany a caravan of relief vehicles. They arrived in Xenia about 2 a.m. Thursday morning. Communications between the AREC team and Columbus were maintained through W8ERD’s kilowatt station using both 146.46 simplex and the Springfield 146.13/.73 repeater. Local communications continued through the night on ten, six, and two meters to coordinate a continuous stream of relief supplies. Early Thursday morning, the AREC field team put an outbound message service in operation. Various state agencies in Columbus learned that the Central Ohio AREC could provide communications into Xenia and called W8ERD to initiate traffic. On Friday, an 80-meter CW link was established with the field team, and this facilitated the message flow. Our assistance continued around the clock until Sunday, April 7, with daily relief crews and supplies.
A few other noteworthy events might be mentioned. Our TOSRV communications were successfully conducted in the same fashion as in 1973. However, later in the year, we received our portable repeater, and it was used with great success on the Sunriser 400 Road Rally and on the Cancer Society Treasure Hunt. The COAREC became an ARRL Affiliated Club. Also, 1974 is the year in which the following current members joined our organization: WB8JGO, K1LT (then WB8OSC), WB8NTR, K8NU (then W8IML), K8OVP, WA8RUT, WB8RUW, and W8VMS.
The 1975 SET was conducted in cooperation with the Red Cross. The scenario assumed that heavy rain and melting snow created flooding possibilities in southeastern Ohio, with special concern that the dam at Lake Hope might break. The telephone alerting system instructed all mobile units to report to the Red Cross bus in McArthur. Other units were dispatched to activate K8DDG, W8SGT, and W8LT. As the mobile units arrived in McArthur, they were assigned to teams and each team assigned to an area of the county. Heavy rain and wind added to the realism. Time-coordinated sealed instructions developed the scenario from that point. The entire county was well covered by the communication system. However, the superiority of 80-meter CW over 75-meter SSB was demonstrated for the link back to Columbus. This was one of our more ambitious SET exercises.
The year also marked the first use of a portable repeater in our TOSRV communications. The repeater was initially set up at a south window on the 38th floor of the State Office Tower. This provided coverage over the northern part of the route. Communications were then passed to the kilowatt 2-meter simplex station at Scioto Trail, for the middle portion of the route, while the repeater was transported to Portsmouth (actually to the hill in Kentucky across the river) to cover the southern portion. The reverse procedure was used on Sunday.
In the early evening of June 17, a series of small tornadoes touched down across Central Ohio. One of these hit in Grove City and another at a trailer park on Greenlawn Ave. At the request of Red Cross, mobile units were dispatched to both locations. In addition, K8DDG and W8LT were activated. Following initial damage reports from the field, Red Cross requested six mobile units to accompany Disaster Survey teams, plus one for the Red Cross Canteen vehicle which was sent to the Greenlawn area. A shelter was also opened, and a portable unit was set up there. Fortunately, although there was extensive damage at the trailer park, the damage occurred before most people were home from work, and there were no significant injuries. The AREC was released at about 10:30 p.m. Although two-meters had been in use for only two or three years, there was already concern of frequency overload. A 220 net was added to those on two and ten meters in an attempt to promote additional capabilities. The TOSRV group donated a VHF Engineering 2-meter repeater kit for a second portable repeater. This was also the year that three more current members – NZ8R (then WN8WKB), W8RG (then K8QYR), and WA3YTQ – joined the organization.
In 1976, the pressure of his job required W8ERD to resign as EC. I was appointed in his place.
A linked repeater system was used on TOSRV for the first time. This was also the first year for the use of Red Cross mobile first aid units in the role previously handled by the National Guard Medical Unit.
With the help of some borrowed equipment, a four-repeater system was set up for the 1976 Sunriser. The system consisted of three portable two-meter repeaters linked with a 220 repeater. The system worked almost as planned and provided communications over a 1500 square-mile area. Because of the terrain in southern Ohio, there were some holes in the coverage, but the concept was proven sound. Nevertheless, as is true still today, the attempt demonstrated that, in spite of repeaters, there may also be a need for good portable antenna systems and simplex relays.
We pick up the trail of history with 1977. This was the year our SET had to be postponed. On the originally scheduled date, January 29, most of the state was hit by a real snow and energy-shortage emergency. State DSA, Franklin County DSA, and the Red Cross were all placed on “stand-by” status. Although our group was not heavily involved, the SET was rescheduled for February 12 to keep the communications channels clear for potential emergency use.
This was also the year the ARRL decided to change our name from the Amateur Radio Emergency Corps to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. At that time, ARRL organized emergency communications under the Amateur Radio Public Service Corps (ARPSC), which consisted of the NTS and the AREC, with liaison to RACES. The ARRL apparently reasoned that you should not have a corps under a corps, so the AREC was changed to the ARES. Subsequently, the ARPSC seems to have disappeared from the ARRL organization chart, but we remain the ARES.
Tony Hirsch, WB8NYA, made his plane available as a platform for our second test of a flying portable repeater. The first test had failed because the duplexers could not tolerate the high SWR provided by the available antenna. This second test was more successful, and a number of contacts were made with stations throughout much of Ohio and into West Virginia. However, it was apparent that still more work would be required before this system could provide reliable communications over the major portion of Ohio.
Through the efforts of the Central Ohio Area Repeater Group, a group consisting primarily of ARES members and dedicated to the support of COARES, a “permanent” repeater (WR8ANW) was established on 147.66/.06.
As more and more of our members became equipped for 2-meters, the 10-meter net was discontinued, although 10-meter operation continued to be a part of our communication plan. We did start a CW net on 28.150, primarily to provide net experience for our Novice members. However, this net was also discontinued after about eight months because of lack of interest.
During the year, W8ARE, WB8BTW, K8BV (then WD8IYE), WB8CGX, WB8YIJ, and WB8YUO joined the group. 1978 is best remembered as the “Year of the Blizzard”. We even had a “warm up” event. As a result of a heavy snow on January 20, the Red Cross and the Mayor of Columbus requested us to set up a portable station at the City of Columbus Crisis Center and to activate the stations at Red Cross and State DSA. Traffic was light, and the net was active for only about 6 hours. So much for the preliminary. The main event began early in the morning of January 26. The snow came, and the wind blew, and blew, and blew. By 8:00 a.m., the city was essentially paralyzed, and probably two-thirds of the population was marooned at home. Red Cross again requested that we try to set up a station at the Columbus Crisis Center and activate the station at Red Cross. State DSA requested that we activate W8SGT. With considerable good luck, all three tasks were accomplished. By mid-morning, more than 150,000 people throughout the state were without power or heat.
The COARES net and calling tree were activated, and members started digging out so they could be available for assignment. When the situation subsided to a mere “routine emergency”, some 80 hours later, around 100 stations had participated, either on location, by relaying official messages, or by offering their services and equipment. W8SGT, K8DDG, and the station at the Columbus Crisis Center were active for the entire 80-hour period. In addition, portable stations were maintained at the Columbus Police Dept. Heliport, and at the Sullivant Armory and Westgate shelters for most of the period. More than 200 formal official messages were handled, in addition to a large amount of informal coordination and liaison traffic. The first morning, arrangements were completed for the transfer of blood from the Red Cross in Columbus to a critical patient in Logan County. This blood was transported by car to the Union County line, across Union County by snowmobile, and to its final destination by a 2-1/2 ton truck. The last messages handled Sunday evening were a request for shelter supplies for the Red Cross in Marion and a confirmation that they would be on their way shortly.
Mobile installations were provided in several National Guard vehicles. One of these groups attempted to reach a mobile home community near Mechanicsburg that was without power and heat. This attempt failed, but they did succeed in evacuating around 70 truckers and other travelers who had been marooned in their vehicles along I-70 west of Columbus. Four COARES members were transported by helicopter to Sidney, OH, and provided communications for the Shelby County operation for a period of about 36 hours. A number of requests for helicopter rescue and Medicopter transport were relayed to the Air National Guard.
During 1978, WA8BME, K8EM, WD8NBA, and W8PFB first show up on the roster.
1979 and 1980 were relatively quiet years for the COARES. There were no major emergencies. 1979 was unique in having two official Simulated Emergency Tests. The first SET was held in January, as had been the prior practice. This was a major operation, conducted in conjunction with the Hilliard Disaster Council. The Council wanted to assess their response to a major disaster. We prepared a detailed scenario for a serious train wreck just north of Cemetery Road. The scenario was based on the official reports of a wreck that actually occurred in Mississippi. The effects of the initial derailment were transmitted to the EOC by radio, in the same time sequence as in the original disaster, and the Council determined their response. This provided a very realistic drill for the Council, and several important points were identified.
The ARRL recognized that the early part of the year was probably not the best choice of a time for the annual SET. There was too much chance that the test would be overtaken by a real emergency. They decided that it would be better to hold it in the fall. Rather than wait almost two years for the next SET, they scheduled a second test in October. This SET was designed by Franklin County DSA, and we operated in a support role. In order to introduce a need for wider-coverage activities, we incorporated a “second” exercise with the Civil Aviation of Ohio. This involved the exchange of messages with the individual CAO units scattered around the state. This also provided another attempt at flying a repeater in Tony Hirsh’s plane. We were able to establish 2-meter contacts around most of the state, but we also showed (at least with the equipment available at that time) it was impractical to achieve efficient operation of a repeater with the power and antenna system available in the plane.
1980 brought the first Columbus Marathon. Thanks to our extensive experience with TOSRV, the communication side went quite well. However, it was abundantly clear that the Marathon Officials had a lot to learn about the proper use of communications. Fortunately, the members of that group were fast learners, and many of the initial problems were corrected by the next year.
In reviewing the Bulletins for that period, I was struck by the fact that, “some things never seem to change.” The two primary areas of concern during that period were event participation and finances. Requests for our public-service communication services had steadily increased. Although we had managed to provide at least adequate staffing for all of the events, it was evident that the bulk of the activity was provided by 25% of the membership. There was concern that these individuals might be “burned out”. It was pointed out that, if each of the physically able members were to volunteer for TOSRV and the Marathon and for at least two other events each year, there would not be an excessive burden on anyone. The same is, I believe, true today. Up until 1979, our treasury had depended on contributions made at the whim of the donor or by “passing the hat”, normally at a monthly meeting when the treasury was low. One Bulletin pointed out that there might not be a Bulletin for the next month, as there was less than $3.00 in the treasury and that was not enough to buy the stamps. The Executive Committee did decide to change to an annual contribution drive, as we use today, but it did not make a great deal of difference. We could transfer many of the articles from Bulletins of that period directly to our Bulletins today, and they would be just as pertinent.
During the two-year period, the following current members first showed on the roster: N8BHQ, N8BUC, KA8CEJ, N8CKI (then KA8ELL), KA8HCG, N8IBS (then KA8KHS), W8LGY, N2NS, WD8NVM, KC8T (then KB8LX), and N6UB.
The trail of our history continues with 1981. This was the year of the Cardington Tornado. The devastation at Cardington was not so extensive as at Xenia, but it was comparable when the relative sizes of the towns is considered. From a population of only about 1,700, four people were killed, 53 residences were destroyed, and 80 percent of the downtown business district was completely wiped out.
The COARES was only marginally involved. The Morrow County ARES group did an excellent job, with some assistance from other hams in the area. The tornado hit about 3:30 in the afternoon. The Morrow County group reacted quickly and established a station on 146.52 simplex at the Command Post. When the situation was confirmed, we opened up K8DDG, and W8ERD was able to establish direct communication with the Command Post. During the late afternoon and early evening, the local authorities were trying to stabilize the situation, and there was no need for additional communicators. Later that evening, when Bill Lockhart (local Red Cross Disaster Services Director) decided to send the Canteen and go to Cardington himself, he took four of our members with him. When they arrived, there was still no need for additional communicators, but they were pressed into other Red Cross duties.
Early the next morning, we were requested to provide from six to ten additional communicators (with handhelds). Nine of us responded, traveling to Cardington in a convoy. Our primary assignment, along with some volunteers from Mansfield, was to make a house-to-house canvass for any needed “Welfare” traffic out of the area, as well as to insure that no one needing assistance had been missed. We returned to Columbus late that afternoon. By the next evening, sufficient phone lines had been activated to permit the station at the Command Post to be closed, although Cardington-related NTS traffic continued for the next four or five days. This was handled primarily through the 220 repeater in Mt. Gilead.
Earlier that year, before the Cardington incident, the City of Hilliard requested our support in a test of their revised Disaster Plan. We prepared a scenario, which incidentally involved a tornado passing through the edge of the city. We provided the time-phased reports upon which their responses were based. The post-test review indicated that they had made considerable progress since their previous test.
This is also the year that WB8VLR moved to Florida. Ruth had been one of our most active members, always available for any assignment. That Very Lovely Radio was definitely missed by the organization. For the benefit of the members who knew her, Ruth’s current address is: Mrs. Ruth Hodapp, Lakeland Health Care Center, 1530 Kennedy Blvd., Lakeland, FL 33809.
Furthermore, this is the year that two of our major communication events came back-to-back, with the Sunriser Road Rally on a Saturday night and the second annual Columbus Marathon on the following Sunday. Somehow we filled our commitments on both events, but there were some tired communicators by Sunday evening.
During the year, we provided communications for 35 public service events.
1982 was a relatively quiet year. Early one morning in March, a mini-tornado hit the Hamilton-Meadows subdivision in southern Franklin County. At the request of Red Cross Disaster Services, we made a “windshield damage assessment”. The “hit and skip” tornado significantly damaged two houses in each of three spots. However, there were no injuries and no requirement for immediate Red Cross assistance. No further action was required. During the year, we provided communications for 49 public service events.
1983 was also quiet. This was the year we established the “Calling Group” system. This was also the year the Red Cross obtained the “grant” to cover the cost of the Motorola repeater currently on 147.06+ and the 220 repeater on 224.06-. In addition, it marked the first year of our annual “Christmas Get-Together”. We provided communications for 52 public service events, added 26 new members, lost or dropped (because of inactivity) 28, and ended the year with 134 members.
In February of 1984 we had another snow emergency. In mid-afternoon of the 28th, the Governor declared a state-wide snow emergency. State DSA opened its EOC, and we responded to a request to open W8SGT. In late afternoon, the Mayor declared a city emergency. We were requested to provide a station for the Columbus EOC, and K8DDG was opened at the request of Red Cross. The Red Cross in Delaware was also activated. Civil Aviation of Ohio reported that their pilots and planes were available if required. Fortunately, the telephone circuits remained adequate for all requirements, and the situation did not become so serious as it might have. As a result, the network was terminated around 9:30 p.m. From our viewpoint, it was more of a drill than a crisis, but it did demonstrate that we were available and capable.
There were nearly 5,000 riders in TOSRV-84 and we had over 100 communicators participating. We did have one squad run for our own KA8HCG. Bob climbed the flag pole at Net Control to install an ARRL flag. On the way down, a bit more rapidly than intended, he impaled his leg on a cleat. Fortunately, the situation was not so serious as it might have been.
This was the year the COARES records began to be officially computerized. At least four members had IBM-PC’s. It was also the year the COTN was formed. Our public service communication events grew to a total of 58.
In an otherwise rather uneventful year, 1985 is remembered as the year of the serious hit-run accident during TOSRV. Fortunately, possibly because of our efficient communications and the quick response of the Red Cross FASC and others, the rider was given an opportunity to recover. This was the most serious incident on TOSRV since the fatality from a heart attack several years earlier.
With the assistance of the Red Cross and the generosity of Nationwide, our primary repeaters were moved to their current location. This was also the year the planning group was formalized as the Executive Committee and the duties of the Assistant EC’s were more formally defined. Requests for our assistance with public service communications continued to grow, totaling 62 events during the year.
1986 brought the Miamisburg emergency. A train derailment near the city of Miamisburg resulted in an overturned tank car of phosphorus, which caught on fire. At about 8:15 a.m. on a Thursday we received a call from the DEC of District 3 (W8ILC) requesting assistance to relieve some of the hams who had been on duty over night. By 9:00 a.m. we had nine members on the road to Miamisburg. The specific request was for communicators to provide liaison with police units from nearby communities who did not have common radio frequencies. Apparently, shortly after the request was made, the local authorities decided the situation had stabilized sufficiently that the cruiser patrols were abandoned for the day. As a result, when we arrived, there did not appear to be any clear cut assignments. A few from our group were eventually assigned to relieve local hams at control points; the rest of us were sent to a staging area from which we were eventually released. As it turned out, we were probably not really needed; however, that could not have been anticipated at the time the request was made. It was, in any event, an interesting and informative experience. The local hams, with support from the surrounding area, did an excellent job.
This was also the year of our own “dynamite emergency”. When some 600 pounds of decomposing and unstable dynamite was discovered in a “store and lock” rental unit in the southeast quadrant of Columbus, the city faced a significant emergency. An area with a radius of 800 yards was placed under “voluntary” evacuation. This involved about 1300 people, including a nursing home and a major senior center. Our major concern was communication to coordinate the transfer of the elderly and infirm to Mount Carmel East, to another nursing home, and to a Red Cross shelter set up in Canal Winchester. We quickly had 16 communicators in the field, with another 12 standing by at home in case they were needed. The transfer was completed without significant incident. A decision was made to stabilize the dynamite before moving or burning. Since that would take at least 12 hours, once the evacuation was complete there was no further need for communication support, and the net was closed after about four hours. Just for the record, it turned out some of the dynamite was in plastic bags and could not be successfully stabilized; therefore, the decision was made to burn. No one was sure how successful this would be. Accordingly, on the afternoon of the next day, the evacuation was made mandatory. After the evening rush hour, a portion of I-70 was closed and the mess was burned, fortunately without an explosion.
This year marked the first use of packet radio on TOSRV. Also, for the first time, packet was used to forward NTS traffic from the Ham Radio Booth at the Ohio State Fair. Also marking the increased interest in packet, this was the year the “Ham Radio and Computer SIG” was started.
1987 is the year of the “disaster that could have been”. In August, a tank truck filled with liquid hydrogen overturned at the intersection of I-70 and I-71 on the east side of the business district. Fortunately, it occurred in the early evening after rush hour; however, it probably goes without saying that this was a touchy situation. One member was sent to Franklin Park, which had been announced as the initial evacuation point. He reported the presence of two Red Cross nurses, but no one else. In the meantime, a more permanent shelter had been set up at the Champion Middle School. Four members were dispatched there; one for communications and three to assist evacuees find the location in the dark. This task was quickly accomplished, since there were few residences in the affected area and only 12 individuals came to the shelter. The Columbus Fire Department and the other officials did an excellent job. By 11:00 p.m. arrangements had been completed for an empty tank truck to off-load the hydrogen from the overturned truck, as well as for a truck of nitrogen to blanket the area during the transfer. Since there was no further need for our services, the net was closed.
In 1988, after 12 years as EC, it was time for me to step aside and turn the reins over to someone younger, with new ideas and a fresh viewpoint. I submitted my resignation to the Executive Committee. They made the excellent choice of WB8INY to succeed me, a recommendation with which I completely concurred. The recommendation was submitted to our SEC, and he also concurred. Sometimes we get something right, as proven by our organization today. This “changing of the helm” marks an appropriate spot to close my portion of this COARES history. Maybe some day when John retires, he will elect to bring it up to that date.