You just entered the Danger Zone

Am I in Danger now? No, of course not.

But you can be. Just like the many Scouts that were confronted with a sudden emergency or natuaral disaster. What would you do?

Scouts to the rescue:

Why are Scouts always there first when disaster strikes? There are Scout Groups nearly everywhere, well organized, with good contacts in the local community. The Scouts are usually trained in basic first-aid medical techniques, orienteering and they have the material that is needed to set up a temporary shelter real quick: tents, cooking material, construction material, it is all there, waiting for the next troop camp, or, yes, it can be used in case of emergency.

Radio amateurs to the rescue:

If all communications are down, there is no power, no cell phone coverage, no fixed phone lines working and certainly no internet anywhere. How do you get help? Well, what always works anywhere in the world, is the  network of Amateur Radio volunteers. Really? Yes really.


So what happens if we put Scouts and Radio Amateurs together on this?

You get an extremely effective emergency response team. If everything else fails and authorities are arranging larger scale help, Scouts and Radio Amateurs are very often the first ones on the scene.

How can each Scout prepare to intervene to save his or her fellowman or woman during great natural or climatic disasters? During the earthquakes and Tsunamis that affected e.g. Thailand, Haiti and or more recently Japan, Nepal and Indonesia, Scouts have shown that they know how to quickly and efficiently react. Scouts are often the key contact people for professionals that work in the field, thanks to their self-sacrifice and determination; they are often in the front line during disasters that affect their immediate environment.

To act accordingly to prepare youth to be confronted with difficult circumstances and reinforce the existing partnerships wth Amateur Radio units, we have this special programme for you in the JOTA-JOTI Danger Zone. The materials are delivered by support of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU),  the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as well as by support of various amateur radio emergency communications teams.


This JOTA-JOTI weekend, you are going to be in a Simulated Emergency Test, or SET for short. You are going to experience:

It is a challenging activity in which an Earthquake emergency is simulated and Scouts can respond using techniques, materials and skills that they can train this JOTA-JOTI weekend.

So, what’s it like to be in an Earthquake if you have never been in one? Hard to imagine? Well, check this out:

This programme needs some preparation, both from staff, radio amateurs and from Scouts. So we have 3 support packages for you. In each pack you will find usefull materials for your programme. You may, but do not need to, use them all. We recommend, however, to quickly read through them and decide which ones you want to use.

Note that this programme has been succesfully tested during JOTA 2011 and has been updated since where needed.

Here are your programme support packs:

What you need to take part:

  • an amateur radio station (check at the Jamboree Radio Base on the campsite for help)
  • a Scout-built improvised antenna (see support pack above)
  • battery power or alternatives (see support pack above)
  • a small computer with the NBEMS software (see Amateur radio technical package above)
  • The IARU message form (see support pack above)
  • optional: an android smart phone with teh FLdigi App installed (see Amateur radio technical package above)
  • a local topopgraphic map
  • guideline instructions for emergency communications and setting up temporary shelter (see support pack above)
  • the  starting message and additional pieces of information that you must NOT show to the participants beforehand, and can be downloaded here: info items

Rules of the SET:

To simulate as close as possible a chaotic situation in the aftermath of a natural disaster, please apply the following:

  • only the use of the battery-powered radio stations is allowed (mains power from the city grid has been taken out by he disaster)
  • land-line phones and mobile phones do not work, and your internet connection is down too, so these cannot be used to transfer information.
  • set a time limit for the activity: there is always a need to act as fast as possible
  • be prepared: make sure your Scouts know what to do when disaster strikes. (Do they know the assembly point, what to wear, what to bring?)
  • Prepare the materials for use and familiarize yourself and your Scouts with them. Yes, it is easy to cheat, but a Scout is courteous…!

About this activity

This activity is derived (with permission) from the Scout activities offered by Operation ShelterBox.
Those taking part will put themselves in the shoes of an emergency response team. They will learn about disaster relief work while exploring a specific disaster scenario. They will be asked to assess various sources of information to help them make a decision about how they should respond and send aid to this specific disaster.
In particular the Scouts will learn how to collect information under difficult circumstances and how to respond to it using emergency services provided by their JOTA radio station.

Disaster strikes:

Step 1

Split the Scouts into one or more patrols. Each patrol is equipped with a portable 2-way radio. Can be any type. And, optionally, with a smartphone that can receive the digital messages via FLdigi. Set up your fixed  “emergency control” station on battery power and improvised antenna. To each patrol you give an eveloppe. In only one of the envelopes, you put the starting message (info item 1); the rest is empty.

Variation: if more JOTA stations in your area participate, each patrol can come from a different group.

Step 2

It is 12:00 GMT. Inform the Scouts that early this morning a major Earthquake has hit in the East of your neighboring country Scoutonia. At this moment you know very little about it, just an email from a Scout leader that has reached you.

The first task of your Scouts is to quickly get at least two other information sources together. This is a major operation and requires the help of all Scouts and radio amateurs. They should look for emergency signals on the frequencies and monitor local repeaters too. Ask other JOTA radio stations if they have more info on the Earthquake in Scoutonia. Other amateur radio stations can help as well to pass messages. Make sure you mention this is the JOTA simulated emergency exercise and not a real situation (we don’t want to create a panic of course !).

As soon as you received new information, you are also obliged to pass that on to other Scout stations, using the IARU emergency message form for your radio transmissions. For digital messages, this can be done by typing it directly in to the FLdigi screen of the NBEMS software, or by simply copying it from a text file.

Frequencies where traffic from Scoutonia could be heard are:

  • 21.360 MHz, 14.300 MHz and 7.060 MHz for voice communication;
  • 14.065 MHz and 7.065 MHz for the NBEMS digital messages, using mainly MT63 and PSK-500R modes;
  • any authorized local UHF frequency you agreeed to use if the SET is used within your local group only.

Of course, other frequencies might be used (depends on what radio amateurs in Scoutonia can put on the air after the disaster of course) and messages may be passed on by others during the day as well.

More information will become available as the full extent of the disaster unveils itself…….

Your “emergency control” station transmits info items 2, 3, 4 and 5 in random order at random times during the excersise, so the patrols can pick them up with their portable stations.

Variation: the digital messages can be “transmitted locally” between computers with the NBEMS software. Just put a microphone on the loudspeaker of the other computer. In this way Scouts can get experience in transmitting messages.

Step 3.

There are at least 5 different pieces of information. You have 1 (the email) if you have the envelop with the starting message; Scouts should collect at least 2 others. As soon as you have collected 3 or 4 information sources, give each Scout patrol 3 minutes per item to study the received information. Do this until each patrol has studied every piece of information.

They need to assess these pieces of information carefully before making an informed decision about whether aid should be sent to East-Scoutonia and how they can best respond to the situation.

Step 4
Give the patrols a couple of minutes to discuss whether they think they should send aid to this disaster and if so, how. Then hold a vote to see what the result is.
Variation: if more JOTA stations in your area participate, call them by radio and discuss over the air if the Scouts think help is needed and if so, what action should be taken.

It is 15:00 GMT. Suddenly your radio awakens and your Emergency Control Station comes on the air. Immediately try to contact them and ask them for advice on your emergency response.

Step 5

Send out a Scout patrol with a hand-held radio and the local topographic map. Their assignment is to find a spot in your area where a small tent city can be set up to host refugees that flee from the disaster-stricken Scoutonia and seek shelter.

(You can find material from Shelterbox and UNHCR in the support pack above to help with the camp site selection).

Step 6

And right in the middle of your emergency response action, new information is received. So don’t stop operating your radio’s on the emergency frequencies. You never know what helpful info you may receive……

Step 7

At the end time of the exercise at 18:00 GMT, collect all the info that you have received, from the radio, from local actions etc. Discuss with your Scouts what you should do if this was not an exercise but for real…..! Each patrol makes a response plan.


Try to send a short message (IARU form again) t0 9M4S in Kuala Lumpur, telling what you learned today and which information you received about Scoutonia. You may use the frequencies of 9M4S or the Echolink system (see the Radio Base on the campsite for details)

Thanks to Shelterbox and UNHCR for use of their materials , to IARU for its active technical support and to all who take part for your enthusiasm.

How do you like the Danger Zone?

  • 5 Star (65%, 77 Votes)
  • 4 Star (16%, 19 Votes)
  • 3 Star (9%, 11 Votes)
  • 1 Star (6%, 7 Votes)
  • 2 Star (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 118

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Wow, this was a scary experience….quickly run back to the campsite now:

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