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20 OCT 2010
After Action Report SET 2010
Brad Pioveson W9FX
Tom Ciciora, KA9QPN, Illinois SM
event, the annual ARES Simulated Emergency Test, was held on 02 OCT
local ARES units an opportunity to and a framework for testing their
communications skills and networks
a widespread disaster scenario that would encompass the entire
challenges to the local ARES groups in determining what type of
response this type of scenario would demand in their jurisdictions
ARES groups to contact their EMA’s (and/or other served agencies)
during the SET and ask them to contact the Illinois RACES station in
Springfield via StarCom21, the Motorola trunked 800/700 MHz system
that is Illinois’ primary emergency communications carrier
using a conference node, was utilized as a secondary communications
medium. This is the first
experiment utilizing that medium for comm’s with groups unable to
scenario for this event as called ‘Ice Quake 2010.’ This scenario was loosely based on the actual events that
affected Kentucky in late January, 2009.
This scenario depicted a debilitating, major winter storm that,
gradually, over the course of 24 hours, saw an average of 6” of ice
coating the entire Illinois Section.
Illinois ARES HF net opened on 3.905 MHz with W9FX as NCS.
Stations from around the state were invited to check into this
net, and, as that was accomplished, they were asked to tune to 3.915
MHz and to attempt communications with the State RACES Station, NC9IL,
which was staffed and operating for this event.
of 60 stations checked in to the 3.905 MHz net. 58 stations were successful in contacting NC9IL on
3.915 MHz. 48 StarCom21
contacts were achieved.
portable Winlink 2000 station was brought on-line from NC9IL.
The list of messages received at NC9IL via this medium was
surprising and most gratifying.
StarCom21 initiative, the first of it’s kind in Illinois, was very
successful with a couple of caveats.
We had two southern Illinois hospital stations on the air –
Pinckneyville Community Hospital and Marshall Browning (DuQuoin)
Hospital. Both could hear activity on the designated StarCom21 talk
group (channel) but were unable to transmit.
This is being reviewed.
of Echolink as a back-up communications link was successful and
further experimentation will be undertaken.
Winlink 2000 system worked flawlessly, and, points to the success we
can expect from a permanent WL2K installation at NC9IL
the exercise, an attempt was made to sample propagation and determine
the efficacy of using our published secondary frequency, 7.230 MHz.
No communications were achieved on that frequency at the time
of the test, which was approximately 1730Z.
close of the exercise, the Command NCS invited stations to move to a 5
MHz (60 meters) frequency to check intra-state propagation. This was undertaken and successful communications were
established with stations within 300 miles of the NCS, indicating that
this ‘band’ (group of fixed channels) needs to be thoughtfully
included as a fail-safe, back-up communications frequency for
intra-state EMCOMM operations.
were a couple of comments and messages received from ARES groups
around the state indicating that their local EMA’s refuse to turn on
their StarCom21 radios, lest they be charged an exorbitant fee for the
use of these assets. Nothing
could be further from the truth;
this is a myth, and, one that IESMA (Illinois Emergency
Services Management Association) and IEMA (Illinois Emergency
Management Agency) are actively trying to dispel.
in this SET is, as always, optional with a local group.
There were several ARES groups that accepted the challenge and
recognized that such an event is not an unforeseen calamity.
As noted in the distributed scenario, the National Weather
Service predicts the coming storm and attempts to prepare those in the
path of the storm what is coming.
Hence, local ARES groups could have chosen to pre-deploy
(either notionally or in fact) to those sites they predetermined would
need communications, i.e., warming shelters, 911 centers, etc.
Other ARES groups simply told their members to simulate loss of
AC mains and telephone service while sheltering in place at their home
stations. Both were valid
responses; the former
response would appear to be the most applicable for those ARES groups
who have an active relationship with a served agency, such as an EMA,
law enforcement, or other public safety group or hospital.
up with IESMA and IEMA to work on dispelling the myths and
misinformation about the use of StarCom21
local ARES groups that had never before contacted their EMA’s to
follow up, now that initial contact has taken place through the
to experiment with Echolink, with a view toward Echolink-to-HF
connections as a regular feature of the Illinois ARES HF Net.
to build-out NC9IL, adding permanent Winlink 2000 gear; more antennas,
and, bring the remainder of the station’s recently acquired
equipment on the air.
the ARRL Illinois Section Communications Plan to:
5 MHz frequencies
wireless email (Winlink 2000)