The object of our 2013 Simulated Emergency Test was to include ARES volunteers and non-ARES amateur radio operators working together as they might in a real emergency, during the initial stages of an event when normal communications may be disrupted. The challenge was to reach municipal officials or employees, in various parts of Grey County, at their homes, when they need to be called out by their CEMC to deal with the emergency situation.
The CEMC for Grey County had provided us with a list of towns or municipalities for the 41 officials or employees that they might call out for their Emergency Management Team. Using this list, 41 real addresses for those locations were chosen from the phone book and 41 artificial names were given for them. This provided our target list for the exercise.
Between 9:00 am and noon, we managed to reach 21 of the 41 addresses. Thirteen operators participated to some degree; 7 of them are currently ARES volunteers, the other 6 heard about the exercise in advance or joined in when they heard the activity on the air.
I’d like to thank all of the following who participated; Frank VA3GUF, Tom VA3TS, Adam VE3IZS, Bill VE3WLR and Brian VE3IBZ who operated mobile and drove to each of the addresses they were assigned, Fred VA3STG, Matt VE3MRT, Jim VE3CBM and Shane VE3RUT who checked in and provided us with information from their locations but were unable to operate mobile or had other commitments that morning, Brad VE3RHJ who joined us on the air after finishing his net control shift with the Trans-provincial Net then forwarded our test Declaration of Emergency message to EMO, Jon VA3CIC who worked with me at the Owen Sound Firehall EOC where we used the callsign VA3OSE as our base station and Percy VA3BBD who heard us on the air and dropped in to visit.
Although we did manage to reach 21 locations within the 3 hours, 3 of the listed contacts were week-end addresses in Guelph and Palmerston. Some of the easy addresses that we did not get to were right within Owen Sound. They just didn’t happen to be on an efficient route for the mobile operators to get to within that time frame.
Lessons Learned: We lacked operators to the east of Owen Sound during this exercise so we had no way to contact addresses in Meaford, Clarksburg and Thornbury. We also were not able to reach the Blue Mountain repeater (which might have brought in some participation from Simcoe County or the far east of Grey County) nor the Berkley repeater from our station at the firehall. We were kept busy enough for the 3 hours of the exercise so we did not introduce the complication of pretending that either of the two repeaters that we did use being out of service.
I would judge the exercise as a great success. It provides us with a measure of what we can do with the distances involved, the travel times, the number of operators and the ability to mobilize them effectively. Thanks again to all involved.
Bob Droine, VE3LKD
ARES Emergency Co-ordinator, Grey County