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Friday, November 15, 2013

Arkansas Simulated Emergency Test (SET) 2013

The 2013 Arkansas Simulated Emergency Test (SET) was held on November 2, 2013, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

Having received the kind permission of Assistant Fire Chief Coney, Captain Hensley and the Fire Station 16 Team approximately 2 months prior to the event, I set up my gear at my local Fire Station 16 around 08:45h. Minor challenge were overhead power lines at one side of the property.

Knowing this and given that the SET simulated communications blackout throughout Arkansas secondary to Ice Storm, I brought along a dozen electric fence posts (approx.  2.5 feet long), which I stuck under the trees with orientation as outlined in aerial photo and upon which I erected a low half-wave dipole antenna (AT-1743).
From this I ran my coax to the front door of the Fire Station, but set up just short of it, since the weather was so nice, although my coax would have easily extended inside the building. Overall set-up time: approximately 15 minutes. To this I connected my HF transceiver as detailed and ran on battery power with 10W output throughout the 2 hour SET (signal report of 55 by NCS, receive of all net stations was 59).
Additionally I set up my hand held 2m transceiver (5W) and monitored the local repeater output frequency, as well as the repeater input frequency and the National 2m Calling Frequency 146.520.

Check-in into HF and VHF nets was successfully completed. The overall length of the SET regrettably did not allow passing of any "test messages" from my station. I conclude that a half wave dipole antenna on the 80m band, suspended on electric fence posts at an elevation of just under 3 feet, is a viable Rapid Deployment Amateur Radar (RaDAR) EmComm setup for voice communications (at least in dry weather). It remains to be seen how this setup would fare in a real ice storm.

Given the scenario for this SET of an ice storm with total loss of communications and vehicular transportation, it seems to make sense for Amateur Radio operators to volunteer their services to their local fire station or other agency and to build up a working relationship. For me, it made sense to get into contact with Fire Station 16, since I live just a short walk away - excellent given the scenario of the SET. I intend to build on this initial encounter and return monthly to my local fire station to check in to the Arkansas Razorback HF Voice Net.

I thank Assistant Fire Chief Coney, Captain Hensley and the entire Fire Station 16 Team for allowing me to participate from their property! I consider this the beginning of a successful "CERT" partnership and hope that other local HAMs will be able to join in in the future.

73 de Marcus NX5MK


Update Nov 26, 2013:

Have you seen this report?

Letters: "Localization of Response," CERT on Long Island
Our deployment protocol for an event is based on the member's proximity to a key location (fire house, police station, EOC, et cetera). On an as-needed basis, each member will cover the location closest to their QTH -- usually less than one mile away. Only the EC and AEC's operate net control from the EOC. We don't want amateur operators driving around in hazardous conditions.

Seems like a common sense approach - and was the model for initiating the CERT AuxComm initiative detailed above.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

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