I created this web page, not as much for you as for me. I wanted a place to store all my ham radio information, links, etc. This page is the result of my selfish effort. But, isn’t that the essence of the web – to share information?

Feel free to explore, comment and link to this blog. Or, better yet, contribute something!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bags To Go

If you are involved in emergency communications in any way, you will need a go bag or 2. Or 3. Having them packed and ready to go can save you a lot of time when the time to roll comes. Everybody has their own strategy, but let me share with you my philosophy. I have 3 bags packed. My primary bag is a 3-day assault backpack. This is in connection with my service in the South Carolina State Guard. We are required to have a pack ready to go.

Go Bag #1 - 3 Day Go Pack

The pack should contain everything you need for 72 hours of activity.  Sometime in 3 days, you should be able to get replacement supplies. In this pack, you should include all the things you will need for 3 days, including toiletries, dry clothes, food and medicines. You may have to get an extra prescription from your doctor. I recommend you carry a week's supply of meds, just in case.

Here is a link to the detailed 3 day pack I compiled. Note that this includes things like uniforms, which you may not need, but you can use it as a guide. For example, where it says "Extra Uniform," just substitute "Extra shirt and pants."

You will find that a vacuum sealer is a really good thing to have. Clothes shrink dramatically when vacuum sealed. Also, I don't particularly like MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that are supplied by the military, so I make up my own using a vacuum sealer. I put stuff like the bags of tuna, crackers, fruit and power bars, and other foodstuffs in a bag, vacuum it up and seal it. You should have 5-6 of these in your 3 Day Pack.  3 days worth. If you can handle MREs, by all means, use them, but remember to field strip them to save space and weight.

Go Bag #2 - Basic Communications Bag

If you are going to be doing emergency communications, you will also need a basic commo bag with the equipment and supplies you will need, again, for a 3 day assignment. The requirements for this will vary, depending on the assignments you may expect. This bag will not be a backpack style, since you may already have one of those, and you probably only have one back. Get a size that is the minimum for what you need. If you get a big bag, like a duffle bag, you may find that you will soon fill it.

Go Bag #3 - Advanced Communications Bag

This bag focuses on advanced communications tasks. If you are aware of Comm-T, this would be the bag that would support that function. It would also include a PC and software for programming radios in the field. Which radios? Well, that depends on the missions you expect. It is obviously impractical to have the software and cables for every possible radio, but you should have cables for the radios you support and the most likely ones you may encounter. 
This bag also has tools that will allow repair of cables, putting connectors on cables and other hardware tasks. I also suggest you bring a wide variety of adaptors, you never know what you may encounter in the field.

Why 3 Bags? Why not combine them?

For me, it makes sense to have 3 different bags, because I am never sure what function I may be called upon to perform. Having my gear segregated like this allows me to quickly grab what I need
without a lot of repacking. If your work is more fixed than mine, you can re-organize in whatever way makes sense. For example, if overnight or extended stays is not a possibility, you may not need the 3 day pack and can pack some of the essentials in Bag #2 or #3. The key idea is to make sure you have everything you need and can quickly grab and go. If you are packing a bag in a rush, it is likely you will forget something. If you have the essentials already packed, all you have to do is add anything additional you need.

I hope this helps with your emergency preparations. Let me know what you think.