Emergency communication network tested
Repco Rally New Zealand
19 August 2008
Emergency communication network tested at Repco Rally New Zealand
An integral part of New Zealand’s emergency network, Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC) also plays a pivotal role in the annual running of Repco Rally New Zealand.
The 39th running of New Zealand’s largest annual world title sporting event will be held on roads in the Waikato, Waitomo, Otorohanga, and Franklindistricts from Friday 29thAugust to Sunday 31st August.
Requiring massive logistics and an extensive volunteer base, the rally provides an annual training exercise for AREC members to provide a communication infrastructure in times of disaster.
The annual exercise allows AREC members to test and refine their skills at establishing a communication link from remote locations in what can be arduous weather conditions, all essential practice for the potential real life emergencies where AREC members are called upon to work with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Services network.
Approximately 80 radio operators are deployed during Repco Rally New Zealand. The long days and varied locations add an element of adventure to further reward their volunteer efforts, according to AREC co-ordinator Richard Gamble.
“This is the biggest annual exercise in
New Zealandthat AREC use to train radio operators in the
event of a Civil Defence emergency,” explains
“Operators have learned to set up portable radio communication stations in some of the most in inaccessible areas, coping with sun, rain, wind and cold to send the required results and safety data back to the main rally headquarters. The demands on the operator are great as accurate data at speed are essential in the running of the event, so a good radio setup is needed.”
The licensed amateur radio operators have been involved with the event since it was first accepted into the World Rally Championship in 1977. Each year the radio operators travelled the country to provide communication from the field to the rally headquarters. In earlier years, the AREC crews collected and transmitted competitors’ stage times, using their concise and regimented protocols. In recent years, their role provides safety tracking of competitors’ vehicles throughout the three days of rally action.
Repco Rally New Zealandcovers 16 special stages extending from Port Waikato in the north to Waitomo in the south. Attracting drivers from 25 countries, the event utilises repeat loops of rally stages to minimise cost and travel logistics. The event’s ceremonial start takes place in downtown Hamiltonon the evening of Thursday 28 August, with three days of rally action running until Sunday 31 August.
As well as being the 11th of the 15 rounds in the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship, Repco Rally New Zealandis the sixth of eight rounds in the 2008 FIA Production World Rally Championship and the penultimate round in the 2008 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.
The official rally programme, map, tickets and merchandise are available from Repco stores or visit www.rallynz.org.nz for regular news updates and spectator viewing options.
Radio_operators1.jpg: One of the five-kilometre radio operator locations which are vital to ensure the safe tracking of every competitor and official vehicle participating in Repco Rally New Zealand
Radio_operators2.jpg: At Repco Rally New Zealandheadquarters, the radio operations centre doubles as an invaluable logistical and operations training exercise for theAmateur Radio Emergency Communications organisation.
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