Simulated Emergency Test: October 2019
Here is a short article I wrote for the county ARES group I am a part of. I serve as the groups PIO (public information officer) and this piece is intended for dissemination to local news sources, and within the ARRL and ham community. These exercises are fun and a good way to get out and test your radio equipment. I had used a quad 2-meter antenna attached to my mobile radio to make simplex contact -or point to point communication without the use of repeaters or other infrastructure. This article does away with ham jargon and is intended for everybody as a super-brief summary of our exercise.
Hamilton County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members participated in a Simulated Emergency Test (SET) exercise, Saturday October 5. The purpose of this event was to practice methods of emergency communications across Anderson Township. The SET is an annual nation-wide exercise sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national organization that supports amateur radio.
The Anderson Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was ground zero for county hams during the exercise this year. ARES member Marty Newhall, KE8CEI worked with the Anderson Fire Department to establish an Amateur Radio Station at the EOC as an auxiliary and backup communications system. Groundwork for this radio station was established by former Fire Department Chief Mark Ober with continued support from current Chief Richard Martin and Assistant Chief Bob Herlinger. Working together the station they put in place has the capability for city wide communication and could be used to provide a link to the city of Cincinnati's Regional Operations Center (ROC). Another radio that is part of this set up can be used for long range communications to talk and send messages to the State Operations Center in Columbus (SOC), as was tested and achieved on that Saturday. As a ham radio station the equipment at the EOC has the potential to communicate across North America and even the world.
For the exercise this station was staffed by Keary Henkener who is a Fireman for Anderson as well as being a ham and member of ARES. He serves as the liaison between the two organizations. The radio station at the EOC was also manned by Marty and Ed Frambes, K8EAF, a retired police officer who puts in many volunteer hours for ARES.
Using portable and mobile equipment the other participants fanned out to a number of different locations throughout Anderson and surrounding areas, from Coney Island to the Little Miami River Park, and many points in between. The purpose was to exchange messages from their locations in the field back to the operators at the Anderson EOC and pinpoint locations where radio signals might have trouble getting through.
With Anderson’s location being on a hill between the Ohio River and the Little Miami River there are a lot of dips and valleys, or what radio operators call “holes”. Radio signals can easily fly right over a hole. If an emergency situation takes place and a transmission cannot make it into or out of the hole, it could make a serious issue worse. In these situations hams have the habit and skill of using relay stations to get the message out. Hospitals and nursing home locations were among the many points tested.
The annual exercise confirmed that ham radio operators are prepared to provide emergency communications to the Anderson EOC, the SOC, and across the counties, state and even the country during a disaster.