2012 Simulated Emergency Test

The annual ARRL SET took place on Saturday, October 6. Quad-County Public Service Coordinator / Jefferson County ARES EC Kevin Snyder KA3YCB set up shop at the Jefferson County EOC, and ably served as net control for the Jefferson County participants. Jerry Bosak WD3D acted as liaison, maintaining communications on HF and VHF with other counties across the Western Pennsylvania section. The American Red Cross PA Heartland Chapter participated as a joint exercise, and requested the communications services of the Quad-County ARC to set up radio links to shelters in Big Run and Brookville.

Saturday morning found club members Don Jewell KB3LES of Falls Creek and Peach Caltagarone AB3OG of Reynoldsville setting up 2-meter stations at the Red Cross shelters in Brookville and Big Run, with Greg Donahue KB3WKD and Joe Shupienis W3BC setting up in the Red Cross Headquarters in downtown DuBois. All stations set up and were able to maintain and relay communications with the Jefferson County EMA and the Red Cross HQ for the duration of the exercise.

The Western Pennsylvania Section scenario was severe weather disrupting power, transportation and communications in the section. The Red Cross disaster drill was coordinated with the WPA master plan, and included simulated tornado damage and hundreds of evacuees in the areas of Brookville and Troutville. As the mission progressed, routine and priority messages were exchanged, including requests for counts of evacuees at each shelter, requests from the shelters for supplies, EMA bulletins, and calls for additional volunteers. Red Cross officials at each shelter were able to communicate with HQ via our Amateur Radio links.

Tactical callsigns and plain-language communication techniques were used throughout the drill, and greatly facilitated accurate and effective communications. Several “problems” were simulated, both by EMA and Red Cross officials, and our amateurs were able to quickly and satisfactorily respond to each with appropriate actions. A couple “real” difficulties occurred which added an air of realism to the exercise.

This was a great opportunity to put Amateur Radio Public Service on display for the public and the served agencies. We promptly got every message through, overcame difficulties and exceeded all expectations. Red Cross officials remarked on the high degree of realism they witnessed in our communications, and praised the operating skills and knowledge of the Amateur Radio Volunteers. They further indicated their desire to equip the headquarters and shelters with antennas and radios, and hope to plan a Red Cross disaster drill in the spring, with live “victims” and official vehicles actually travelling to shelters in all four counties.


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