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Composite ICS213/ARRL Radiogram form available as a fillable pdf HERE.
Monitor 3.905 LSB during Illinois emergency conditions. (7.230 LSB 40 meter alternate)
Adjacent States nets: Missouri 3.963 Indiana 3.920 and 7.290 Wisconsin 3.967
2013 ILLINOIS ARES
SIMULATED EMERGENCY TEST
DATE: 05 OCT 2013
1330Z – 2100Z (0830 – 1600 local)
EXERCISE NAME: HACK ATTACK
Unknown assailants engage in malevolent cyber attacks on
Internet-connected devices in Illinois which systematically shut down
and/or damage these devices. Those
devices directly affected will, in many cases, result in cascading
failures in other systems. The
first wave of trouble shows up as a failure of the electrical grid,
statewide. The hackers
have gained control of all of the switches used at the major
substations and power plants.
substations go off line
power generating facilities, including nuclear power plants, are shut
as a result of the substation failures or because they were directed to
shut down by the hackers
Within a few minutes, a different group of hackers gain control of the
SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems controlling
the flow of natural gas thru pipelines and their associated pumping
natural gas pumping stations in Illinois and those feeding Illinois
from border states are shut down as valves close.
Some explosions and fires result.
There are almost 12,000 miles of these pipelines in Illinois.
facilities running electrical generation systems which rely upon
natural gas are rendered useless
The third phase of the attack has two parts.
the loss of AC power and natural gas has caused an immediate and
network- crushing overload of the landline and cellular communications
systems (which are operating on battery power).
the hackers target the relay points and switching stations that handle
telecommunications, bringing all IP-connected systems down.
All media outlets – TV, CATV, satellite providers, AM and FM radio are
off the air as a result of the loss of IP-remote connections between
studios and transmitters and/or the loss of network capabilities.
The Emergency Action System (EAS) is inoperable as no networks are
available with which to communicate to the transmitters.
In short, all of the technology upon which we rely, is unavailable.
All of the above takes place in the 60 minutes PRECEDING the
opening of the drill. In
other words, the damage has been done, the infrastructure is down,
and, in some cases, irreparably so.
DISCUSSION OF THE SCENARIO:
This scenario is ripped from today’s headlines.
Cyber attacks are very much at the forefront of U.S. emergency
and military planners.
PURPOSE OF THIS EXERCISE:
To encourage ARES Emergency Coordinators, their staff and
members to plan for and execute a communications response plan (or
plans) to meet the perceived needs of their served agency or agencies
and community in the event of such a disaster.
To test ARES organizations’ abilities to move data, i.e., digital
message traffic, from their local communities to the State RACES/AUXCOMM
station located in the alternate IEMA communications facility in
GUIDELINES FOR EXERCISE PLAY:
As each local ARES organization’s members, singly and
collectively, possess unique abilities, and each organization has
it’s own roster of served agencies, demographic and geological
features, all Illinois EC’s are free to work within the
framework of the scenario to add elements, injects, and/or challenges
as they see fit. The
statewide exercise scenario is a framework and defines the general
exercise parameters. How
this type of disaster would affect a particular local community
depends upon the community and each participating ARES group will
determine the nature of the needs in their respective area.
Having said that, EC’s are strongly encouraged to look
outside their own jurisdiction to determine how they can help their
neighboring jurisdictions and ARES groups, i.e., offering mutual aid.
ARES organizations are also encouraged to play this as a real
event. In the first few
hours of such an event, HF communications by voice will be the norm.
As the event wears on, however, the need for data comm’s will
become apparent, and, digital communications between local agencies
and state agencies will become of primary importance.
For that reason, each participating ARES organization is asked
to field at least one station capable of sending traffic via digital
should be addressed to NC9IL@winlink.org or NNN0MIL@winlink.org (both callsigns are for the State RACES/AUXCOMM station).
In the absence of any such station, local ARES groups may send
messages may send messages via the National Traffic System.
THE CHALLENGE IS FOR EACH PARTICIPATING ARES GROUP TO BE ABLE
TO FORMAT AND SEND A MESSAGE ADDRESSED TO THE STATE RACES/AUXCOMM
NC9IL will be operating on SSB and Winmor.
Pactor is available, as well.
We will NOT be responding to requests for PEER to PEER (PTP)
Winmor requests. In the
event of an emergency, peer-to-peer messaging is not an efficient use
of time or resources. Instead,
we ask that you send your messages to a Winlink 2000 RMS using RADIO,
NOT TELNET, anywhere in the U.S. addressed to NC9IL@winlink.org. It will get to us, and, will
do so in a very timely manner.
If there is no digital capability in your group, then the
message(s) may be sent using the National Traffic System (Illinois
Sideband Net), or, by checking into the C&C net where arrangements
will be made to receive your message traffic.
Message format may be ARRL Radiogram or ICS 213, if sending
directly by digital means. If
messages are sent via the NTS, then, ARRL Radiogram format is to be
Message content should include the jurisdiction of the
originating ARES group, the number of members that are in the group
(enrolled, not just those participating), and the zipcodes of the
residences of the members. You
do not have to identify the member by callsign with the zipcode, only
a list of unique zipcodes. (We
will use the zipcode info to plot the locations of capable and willing
communications volunteers on a statewide map, to be used for planning
Here’s the text of a sample message:
MIDDLESEX COUNTY ARES X TWENTY SIX MEMBERS X
60601 60602 60603 60604 60605 60607 60609
Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps MARS will also be participating in
The same types of messages are requested from their organizations.
An After Action Report is requested from each participating
entity. A sample AAR can
be viewed in the FILES section of the Illinois_ARES groups.yahoo.com
FREQUENCIES OF OPERATION:
The Illinois ARES HF Net will be operating on 3.905 MHz,
primary, 7.230 MHz, alternate. This
will the the command and control (C&C) net.
Additional frequencies may be utilized depending upon the
traffic load on the primary. These
will be announced as needed on the C&C net.
MARS operating frequencies will be sent directly to the
participating agencies’ MARS
points of contact.
ILLINOIS ARES HF NET
18 AUG 2013
Illinois Emergency Management Agency is holding it’s 17th
annual Conference from Sept 4th thru the 6th.
As always, the IEMA Conference is held at the Crowne Plaza
Hotel. There are a couple
of breakout sessions that deal with Emergency Communications.
Admission to the Conference is free.
For more info, go to the IEMA website:
of IEMA, we are slowly gaining recognition from that agency.
I cannot tell you that we don’t have a long road to travel in
order to achieve our goal of being recognized as full partners in
emergency communications, but, as the old saying goes about Rome not
having been built in a day, so goes our struggle.
If we continue to do our jobs well, present ourselves
professionally, and, strive to be responsive to the needs of our
served agencies , we will, in the course of time, finally get there.
annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test is approaching.
The League has announced October 5 as the (suggested) date for
the SET. Illinois will
hold it’s statewide SET on that date, as well.
This year’s SET scenario is called, ‘HACK ATTACK,’ and
deals with cyber attacks by hackers on Illinois net-connected
scenario is not something from a far-fetched fictional novel –
it’s, literally, ripped from today’s headlines.
I am in the process of building the scenario now and will
release the full plan within the next week or so.
In the meantime, if you’re curious, do an Internet search on
attacks on critical infrastructure’ and see what pops up.
It’s scary stuff.
next Illinois ARES HF Net will be 01 SEP 2013.
Posted 22 May, 2013
Amateur Radio Week in Illinois
Governor Pat Quinn has issued a declaration that the week of 16 - 23 JUNE 2013 will be Amateur Radio Week in Illinois.
Posted 5 may, 2013
Note: I have no political agenda (not League politics, not state or national!) in writing this, so, that’s my disclaimer.
Recently, I’ve had a couple of communications by email from EC’s and others regarding the Official Emergency Station appointment. What is an OES? And, what is expected from an OES? The answer to both questions is more, certainly, than what we’ve been experiencing.
Here’s an excerpt of what www.arrl.org says in regard to the Official Emergency Station (emphasis added):
OES appointee must be an ARRL member and set high standards of
emergency preparedness and operating. The OES appointee makes a deeper
commitment to the ARES
program in terms of functionality than does the rank-and-file ARES
OES appointee is appointed to carry out specific functions and
assignments designated by the appropriate EC or DEC. The
OES appointee and the presiding EC or DEC, at the time of the OES
appointment, will mutually develop a detailed, operational
function/assignment and commitment for the new appointee. Together,
they will develop a responsibility plan for the individual OES
appointee that makes the best use of the individual's skills and
abilities. During drills and actual emergency situations, the OES
appointee will be expected to implement his/her function with
professionalism and minimal supervision.
Full ARRL membership; Experience as an ARES registrant; Regular
participation in the local ARES organization including drills and
test; Participation in emergency nets and actual emergency situations;
Regular reporting of activities; Encouraged to earn certification in
Level 1of the ARRL
Emergency Communications Course.”
In the Illinois Section, as of the date of the last database report of Field Organization appointees, I find 91 individuals hold the OES appointment! That’s a lot of folks that I’m betting many of us who are involved in ARES management rarely ever hear, much less hear from.
So, in the coming days, I’m going to parse the most recent Excel spreadsheet I got from Newington and send each of you who are currently bothering to send in monthly reports and/or are active in the Section ARES program a list of your resident OFFICIAL EMERGENCY STATIONS. I hope you take the time to contact them and try to get them involved in your organization. At some point in time, they were interested, or said they were interested, in making a personal commitment to the ARES program. As the old saying goes, ‘there ain’t no free lunches.’ The price for wearing that OES badge at a hamfest or having the certificate hang on the ‘shack wall is participation in the ARES program.
As many of you who have connections in or with
the public service communications world know, the FCC mandated that
all the FM rigs on VHF and UHF channels in the
What we’re going to do with these transceivers
is to have a team of ISP radio techs – hams, volunteering their
expertise and time – modify these rigs to become single channel
transceivers. This single
channel will be 145.610 MHz, our Illinois Packet Network frequency.
The radios will have connections for audio in, audio out,
push-to-talk (PTT) and DC power connections.
We plan, thru the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Services
Management Association (IESMA), to offer two, each, of these
transceivers to every emergency management agency in the State of
I am also going to be contacting the Illinois
Dept of Public Health in an effort to initiate a similar Syntor-X
radio program for EVERY hospital in
More on the Syntor-X Packet radio program as it develops and we get the kinks worked out. Trying to find storage space for 925 radios, plus arranging for transportation and a production line of techs to work on them requires more than a little time and finesse. Stay tuned for more!
5 March, 2012 From Brad Pioveson, W9FX: -- Illinois ARES and SKYWARN volunteers in the southern half of Illinois were awake and watchful during the very early morning hours of Leap Day, February 29, as the leading edge of a cold front caused an outbreak of what would become deadly severe weather. As the storms crossed from Missouri into Illinois, SKYWARN groups in several counties including St. Clair and Madison were activated.
The storms did little in terms of damage until they got further east, however. Perry and Union Counties were pummeled by high winds and hail. Both counties saw small scale structure and power line damage. SKYWARN groups closer to the Wabash and Ohio Rivers continued to carefully watch as this storm system continued to intensify.
Ryan Buckingham, KC9KWN, Franklin County's Emergency Manager, chased the funnel cloud, then, EF4 tornado that roared from northeastern Williamson County into Saline County, then, to the county seat, Harrisburg, where, as the morning wore on, it was learned that six residents were killed.
The SKYWARN activity seamlessly became an ARES operation, according to District 11 EC Bruce Talley, WA9APQ. Talley says, "The 147.09/146.88 MHz [linked repeater system] was an extremely valuable resource for this event. It was used for SKYWARN activity for about 2 hours and then for organizing and confirmation of resource deployment, for the remainder of Wednesday. And then again on Friday, for SKYWARN alert, as NWS ramped up watches and warnings for several states." While Harrisburg's 78 bed hospital had to be evacuated owing to a lack of power, EMS units from adjacent cities and counties responded and were able to effect patient transfers. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has a fleet of trailer-mounted communications systems, one of which was deployed to Harrisburg for communications during this event. Talley also serves as one of the volunteers who sets up and maintains that unit. Several of the other volunteers who staff this unit are also hams, he notes.
As the sun arose and news of the Harrisburg disaster became known, Illinois Section ARES members were alerted to keep rigs tuned to the primary Section HF net frequency, 3.905 MHz, should the need have arisen for EMCOMM support,. Since only a small geographic area was affected by Harrisburg's EF4 tornado, no request for communications support was received from any served agency or NGO.
ARRL ILLINOIS SECTION SIMULATED
Brad Pioveson, W9FX
ARRL Illinois Section Emergency Coordinator
Illinois Emergency Management Agency State RACES Officer
EXERCISE NAME: BLINDING SUN
The Section portion of the SET begins at 0800CDST/1230Z 01 OCT 2011 and concludes at 1230CDST/1730Z on 01 OCT 2011.
Primarily, this exercise is, as are all our Section-wide exercises, designed to motivate local ARES groups to make contact and create or renew relationships with existing or potential new served agencies. Primarily, this exercise is, as are all our Section-wide exercises, designed to motivate local ARES groups to make contact and create or renew relationships with existing or potential new served agencies. Primarily, this exercise is, as are all Section-wide exercises, designed to motivate local ARES groups to make contact and create or renew relationships with existing or potential new served agencies. Equally important, an additional primary goal is the motivation of local ARES groups and individual members to be, both personally and corporately, prepared for disasters, and, especially to be prepared to respond to foreseeable threats.
Secondarily, this exercise is intended to stimulate Illinois ARES groups and members to exercise their back-up power source(s); to encourage all members to learn how to format and effectively communicate messages using both voice and digital radio circuits.
At 1245Z 01 OCT 2011, a coronal mass ejection (CME) created by a massive solar explosion /flare hits the earth. The energy and particles create gamma radiation in the atmosphere which creates an electromagnetic pulse of energy (EMP) wave. The power grid in Illinois is rendered inoperative as switches and transformers are fatally damaged by the electromagnetic pulse. Telephone lines are rendered inoperative as induced kilo-voltages destroy switches, line amplifiers, routers, and attached equipment. As a result, there is no A.C. power, no Internet, no landline telephone capabilities. No cellular telephone capabilities are functional. No satellite communications are available as satellites have been rendered inoperative by the EMP wave and high energy particle bombardment.
Electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, events come in two forms. The type of EMP event most of us have had some contact with – in amateur radio writings, perhaps – is currently referred to as ‘HEMP,’ or High altitude EMP. This type of event is caused by the detonation of a nuclear device at altitude. The resultant EMP waves take three forms which are referred to as E1, E2, and, E3. The E1 and E2 pulses exhibit extremely fast rise times (time it takes for the voltage to go from zero to it’s maximum value) – measured in fractions of nanoseconds. There are HEMP-specific weapons that, according to the Russians, who developed them, will generate up to 200,000 Volts per square meter within a few hundred miles of the blast, and, still pack a walloping 100,000 Volts per square meter at the east and west coasts of the U.S. Only hardened and/or shielded equipment can survive such an event. This is not what our BLINDING SUNexercise is about.
The Illinois ARES SET is based upon what is referred to as a ‘Carrington event.’ A Carrington event, named by the fellow who figured out what caused the inducement of high voltages in telegraph lines after a solar flare in 1859, thankfully, generates only an E3 wave. The E3 wave features a much slower rise time, perhaps 20 nanoseconds, and may induce up to 20,000 Volts per square meter in terrestrial power grids, telecommunications wiring, and, the like. When the power grid goes down from this type of stimulus, it will be down for a very long time – perhaps years, as the massive transformers that are situated across the country are not off-the-shelf replacement items. They are custom built and take months to construct under the best of circumstances.
The RF sections of well designed amateur radio stations that are equipped with properly installed PolyPhaser-brand or other similarly rated surge protectors should survive a Carrington event. (If you’re in doubt about whether or not your feedling surge protector will survive such an event, contact the manufacturer or check the specifications regarding maximum voltage and response rise time.) Whether or not the AC-mains-connected portions of these same stations survive is another matter. Surge protectors are available that will protect the whole house/office/electrical entrance panel, or, which are designed to protect specific branch loads, as in the case of power strips. Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV’s), the protective element of commonly available surge protection devices, may be adequate to do the job. The problem with MOV’s, of course, is that they are sacrificial elements, and, there’s no way (of which I am aware) to test them. If they don’t blow up when the surge hits – which can happen under some circumstances – you really have no way of knowing if they are still functional or not.
Well designed LMR (public safety) radio installations may survive. Trunked 700/800 MHz public safety repeaters (StarCom21, for instance) may also survive, but, without landlines, each repeaterinstallation reverts to ‘site trunking,’ which means that any local user may communicate with any other local user as long as both can literally ‘see’ the same tower. All of the networking capabilities are gone.
Note that BLINDING SUN occurs a scant few weeks ahead of the State Level Exericse 2011 for which the scenario will be a major New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake. Consider BLINDING SUN to be a warm-up exercise for the November 15-17 SLE 2011 event. Communications
Following a Carrington blast from the sun, there will be no AC power (in your city, county, state, and, nation). If you have a generator, battery back-up, and/or solar power generation capabilities, you’ll need them.
Your jurisdiction will be in panic. Hospitals will have just kicked on their emergency power. The same will be true of EOC’s, 911 centers, Sheriff and police departments, fire stations, and the like. But – and, this is key to understanding the seriousness of this event – there will be NO communications available to your citizens. No telephones. No cellular telephones. No Internet. No VoIP. No Starcom21.
Some homes and businesses will be burning from the overvoltage applied to their appliances and electrical devices. The only way the fire department will learn of the need for their services is if someone goes to the fire station and tells them, they see the smoke themselves, or by ham radio.
People who rely on AC power for healthcare equipment (oxygen concentrators, etc.) will be in dire need of medical intervention, but, they will have no way of communicating that need to the EMS crews.
Typically, in large metropolitan areas, when the lights go out, pillaging and looting begin. This time, however, there is no ‘911’ to call.
How will your local emergency management agency communicate with citizens to tell them where to go for water (pumps are down); medical assistance; food; shelter?
How will the shelters communicate their needs for food and supplies?
The Illinois ARES HF Net will activate at 0800 local time on 01 OCT 2011 on 3.905 MHz. Coincidentally, the State RACES station, NC9IL, will be activated.
NC9IL will be operating on:
3.905 Mhz LSB
3.590 MhzWinmor (in peer-to-peer mode)
145.610 MHz 1200 baud packet (Winlink 2000 email link – email@example.com
MARS Pactor III Winlink 2000 (if you’re in MARS, you’ll know where to find us)
If your local ARES group, or, you, as an individual, are participating in SET 2011, I ask that you prepare and send a radiogram, addressed to NC9IL. This message should include the following info:
1. Your callsign
2. Your location (city or county)
3. Your source of power for this exercise (generator, battery, mobile, etc.)
4. How long you can continue operations with current power source and fuel (1 hour, 2 days , or ?)
Here are few samples of the text portion *shownwithout the headers* of exercise messages:
2. Macoupin County
4. 24 hours
2. Morgan County
4. 12 hour
2. City of Peoria
4. 36 hours
I’d like for all participants (that can do so) to send that message two ways: First, I’d like to see the message in email format and send it using Winmor to NC9IL@winlink.org Additionally, I’d like to see it formatted as an ARRL Radiogram and send it by voice to NC9IL on 3.905 Mhz. If you’re unsure how to format a Radiogram, there is a wealth of info available at http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Public%2520Service/MPG104A.pdf or, you can contact our Section Traffic Manager, Roy Eades, KA9MZJ, for more info. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Roy invites you to fire up a rig on the Illinois Sideband Net (3.905 Mhz, 1800 local time, daily) for practice.
NC9IL will be operating from AC mains, but, the state-owned facility in which NC9IL is housed is equipped with an automatically activated, diesel-powered generator, and, if this were a real event, that genset would be online.
From regional and local perspectives, DEC’s, ADEC’s and EC’s are strongly encouraged to flesh out your own scenario and response plan to meet your jurisdictions’ and served agencies’ needs. Feel free to be as creative as you dare with the exercise scenario. About the only thing of which one can be certain is that things won’t be as good as they think they well be – Murphy’s Law will most assuredly be apparent, as in, “Things will be worse than what they initially appear to be,” and, “The worst possible thing that can happen will do so at the most inopportune time.”
EC’s are invited to make this as real as you have assets and resources to accomplish. NASA’s space weather folks, astrophysicists and solar scientists, all agree that a Carrington event is a very real possibility during this solar cycle. In emergency management terms, it’s a ‘low probability/high risk’ event. In other words, while the odds don’t favor such an event happening on any given day, we are overdue for one of these, and, if it hits with the force the scientists anticipate, the results will be catastrophic.
From: Brad Pioveson W9FX
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:25 AM
Subject: Amplification of Illinois Participation in NLE 2011 and SLE 2011
Folks, there is, and, I'll take the blame for it, some confusion regarding the difference between NLE and SLE 2011. NLE 2011 is a FEMA exercise. NLE 2011 is most certainly going to be played out, and, that, on the original schedule, May 16-20, 2011. IEMA will participate in a functional capacity in this exercise. 'Functional,' I have been told, means that no assets will be deployed and, more to the point which affects us, no actual communications tests involving our networks will be conducted.
Our part in the NLE/SLE exercises was to have been under the auspices of the SLE - State Level Exercise. The SLE was the umbrella under which our communications capabilities would have been exercised. The Illinois SLE 2011 has been postponed. It will happen, it's just been shoved back a few months to allow the State of Illinois and the southern counties of Illinois time to retool after this spring's flooding.
Brad Pioveson, W9FX
Illinois State RACES Officer
ARRL Illinois Section Emergency Coordinator
To download an Excel spreadsheet with all counties arranged by district, click here.
AFTER ACTION REPORT 2010 Illinois SET (2010-10-20)
Tim, N9PUZ, sends these
suggestions on how to optimize email for use with Winlink 2000.
The October 2, 2010 SET was a big success. Thanks to all who participated!
Beginning at 0800 local time, the Illinois ARES HF net will open on
3.905 MHz. This will the primary exercise net and will be utilized for
command and control. The NCS will call each IEMA Region in Illinois from
the northwest reaches to the southeast, respectively, and, in numerical
order. ARES groups and participating members within each IEMA Region
will be invited to check in. If you are in doubt about which IEMA Region
you're located, see the map located at:
ICE QUAKE 2010
ILLINOIS ARES SIMULATED EMERGENCY TEST
DATE 02 OCT 2010
Note: There will be additional components added to this EX Scenario within the next week. 73, de Brad, W9FX
30 SEP 2359Z : NWS issues major storm warning alerts for all counties of Illinois. Massive freak winter storm is approaching from the NW and icing conditions will begin within 12 hours. Total expected accumulation of ice is >4 inches.
01 OCT 2359Z: Major winter storm begins to affect NW Illinois. Storm system moving steadily SE. Entire state expected to be affected within next 12 hours.
02 OCT 1400Z: Total accumulation of ice now 6 inches, average. 90% of Illinois citizens without power. All communications services – public service, cellular, landline telephones, satellite-based systems, inoperative. A few AM broadcast stations in the state remain on the air, operating at reduced power owing to antenna icing and no AC power available for the big transmitters. National Weather Service transmitters are off the air. Gasoline and diesel fuel are unavailable, can't be pumped, and, roads are uniformly impassable. Trees and power poles, lines and hardware, block all secondary roads. Major jams on all interstate highways and tollways with jack-knifed trucks and wrecked passenger cars blocking roadways. Hospitals are operating on emergency power with remaining on-hand fuel supplies. Nursing homes and assisted living centers have no power, no generators, no heat, no light. Local 911 call centers are inoperative – no telephone lines, no Internet service exist. The Illinois National Guard is fully activated, it's members are told to report to their armories for deployment. Fires are breaking out in many homes and apartments as residents attempt to heat their homes with kerosene and/or cooking stoves and use candles and gasoline or propane lanterns for illumination. Potable water is not available universally, as pumping stations have no power. Illinois Governor Quinn and IEMA Director Klinger make joint announcement – to the few reporters that are in the office to hear it, since their news reporting facilities are down – that an official declaration of a state of emergency has been made in Illinois, that no aid will be forthcoming to Illinois residents for at least 48 hours, and that a request for a disaster declaration from Washington has been requested, which paves the way for Federal loans and aid to start moving toward us. IEMA can't move it's resources until the roads are cleared. The roads can't be cleared until the power lines are rendered safe to work on. The power lines can't be rendered safe until the line crews can be brought into the area from adjacent states and they work their way in from the state borders, clearing the lines as the move toward the center of Illinois.
Does this sound apocalyptic? This is not entirely a work of fiction. The scenario, above, is a fairly accurate description of the situation our neighboring state to our south, Kentucky, found itself facing in late January, 2009. The term `Ice Quake' is used by Brig. General John Heltzel, commander of the Kentucky National Guard and Director of Kentucky's EMA, when he speaks about this natural disaster. Gen. Heltzel gives very well-deserved credit to Kentucky's amateur radio operators when he talks about those first few days of this disaster, a time when all communications services in Kentucky – except amateur radio - were inoperable.
We know that, to an increasing degree, public service communications in Illinois is being handled through Motorola's StarCom21, a 700/800 MHz trunked communications system. Ambulance services, hospitals, local and county police and sheriff's departments, some fire departments, and, emergency management agencies all rely upon StarCom21 for communications. In many cases, StarCom21 is the only communications service in use, in fact. So, what happens when 6" of radial ice coats a StarCom21 antenna? No more StarCom21. No communications, in other words. 800 MHz handhelds, equipped with stubby little antennas, can communicate just about from here to the end of your driveway – unless there are trees in the way.
So…this is the framework for Illinois ARES' Simulated Emergency Test for 2010. How will your community be affected if you have no power. . .anywhere. No telephones. . .anywhere. No Internet. . .anywhere. No fuel. . .anywhere. No 911 centers. . .anywhere. No way to call the FD or the PD (even if they could get to you). How will your group deploy? What kind of messages would you be expected to handle – lists of needed medications, perhaps, communicated from the hospital or nursing home to one of the local pharmacies?
EC's – I urge you to be creative. I also urge you to discuss this event with your served agencies, or, if you don't have a served agency, talk with your city or county leaders about the very real possibility that something like this might, just, happen in your neck of the woods. "Got it covered!," they say? Ask them to attend one of General Heltzel's presentations on Kentucky's Ice Quake. I have. It's sobering.
Illinois State Incident Response Center - SIRC
"ARES" and "Amateur Radio Emergency Service" are registered servicemarks of the American Radio Relay League, Inc and are used by permission