Jump Kits

The following is the text from a training item that I did for an amateur radio net on 8 September 2009.

Introduction

This is AI7GU. My name is James. The topic for tonight’s training item is jump kits. This is a big subject, and this training item represents a summary. This is not the final word, and I freely acknowledge that there are others more knowledgeable than myself.

Overview

The term jump kit has nothing to do with bungee cords or parachutes. A typical jump kit is a readily-accessible bag that contains everything needed to support your human and communication needs for a certain period of time. Ideally, it’s always ready to for grab and go situations.

Purpose

The purpose of a jump kit is to allow you as a radio operator to independently sustain yourself while performing your volunteer radio communication services. As a volunteer, you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. This means that you must be willing and able to sustain yourself independent of the organization that you’re serving, if that is what’s required.

First Things First

Let’s take a step back for a moment to look at the bigger picture.

  1. In an emergency, your services as a radio operator are secondary to your responsibilities to yourself and your family. Your desire to serve should not place either yourself or your family at risk. Thus your family emergency plans should ensure that your family is cared for first so you can volunteer without worry or distraction.
  2. A jump kit is frequently designed to supplement your personal 72-hour kit. It is not a replacement. Think modularity and flexibility.
  3. Lastly, neither your personal 72-hour kit nor your jump kit should contain any “family” items that might be needed while you’re away operating the radio.

Types of Jump Kits

To determine what your jump kit looks like, you’ll need to decide on the situation you’re trying to address. For example, I have two jump kits with two different purposes.

The “Day Jump Kit”

The first is a short-term “day jump kit” that I use for volunteering at events. It is centred around using a handy talky for less than a day in a variety of weather conditions. My goal was to fit everything inside a small day pack like those used by university students.

  1. To support radio operations, the “day jump kit” contains the radio manual, a radio chest pack to keep my hand free, extra batteries and antennas, and several pens and note pads. I also have a county atlas and a three-ring binder with personal band plans and other important reference material.
  2. To support me as a human, the “day jump kit” contains items to such as rain gear to keep myself warm and dry. It has food and water to keep me alert and focused. It has body care items such as sun screen, bug spray, a basic first aid kit, and extra socks. A small flash light and green glow sticks allow me to operate at night.

Everything is grouped together in gallon and quart zip-lock storage bags for water resistance and organizational purposes. This makes finding things a snap.

The “Base Station” Jump Kit

The other jump kit that I have serves a different purpose. It constitutes a portable base station that can supply up to 65 watts of transmitting power. It can serve as a net control station or provide a strong signal in difficult terrain. This jump kit is simple in comparison to the “day jump kit”. It consists of

  1. a radio-in-a-box,
  2. a rugged AGM battery, and
  3. a portable antenna stored in a bag.

This jump kit contains only radio equipment because it is designed to supplement my personal 72-hour kit.

Validating the Jump Kit

Regardless of what you decide to put in your jump kit, I highly recommend that you go one step further and put it to the test. I have quickly found what works and doesn’t work by volunteering for a variety of public events through the year. These events allow me to tackle problems in a safe environment where life and limb is not on the line.

Summary

To wrap up, I will repeat what I mentioned at the beginning of this training item.
The purpose of a jump kit is to allow you as a radio operator to independently sustain yourself while performing your volunteer radio communication services. As a volunteer, you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

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