Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ARES Support of Memorial Medical Center Hurricane Exercise

We had a successful exercise today in support of Memorial Medical Center here in Savannah. Memorial is one of our "Served Agencies" here in Chatham County and we have a very good relationship with them. This was a Hurricane Exercise for the Region J hospitals which includes hospitals in about 11 counties along the coast of Georgia. Memorial has done a very good job of recognizing the benefits of amateur radio and incorporating us into thier disaster planning. They have built a very nice station at the hospital and our local ARES group tests it regularly. Today's exercise called for us to be prepared to communicate with other hospitals in Region J in the event of failure of primary communications methods. Steve-K4SDJ did a great job in coordinating our resources with Jimmy Gordon at the hospital and we had plenty of time to plan our support schedule.

Mac-KF4LMT and I arrived at the hospital at 0700 and Jimmy led us to the room where we keep the amateur radio station which is nicely housed in a "Go Kit". See pictures below. We moved the go kit to the operating location (one of two designated on the campus) and began to set everything up. First thing was to put the antenna analyzer on the feed lines to test our antennas for resonance on all bands that we might be called to operate on. Everything checked out and we connected the Kenwood Dual Band VHF/UHF radio and the Kenwood TS-480 HF radio. Got quick comm checks on our local ARES repeaters and then tuned the HF radio up to the the designated Georgia ARES freq on 80 meters. We had been advised that we would be communicating with the Screven County Hospital up in Sylvania and I had spoken with the ARES Ham up there over the weekend so we put out a call on the 146.970 to Bob-K4BG. Bob came back to us and we exchanged signal reports. Next we moved over to 3975 to be sure we could establish reliable HF comm. Worked fine. Soon thereafter we were contacted on the freq by Greg-N4VAD operating at Wayne Memorial in Jesup. Bob decided it would be a good idea to actually pass some traffic so Mac generated an ARRL Radiogram test meesage and passed to Bob-K4BG at Screven. Good copy. Next Bob and Greg each passed a message that I copied. Fortunately I had a Radiogram form in my bag. This was very helpful since neither Mac or I had ever passed any message traffic before. Good training. Thanks to Bob and Greg for being patient with us!

About halfway thru the exercise Jimmy had me come into the command center and give a brief overview of ARES and our capabilities to the hospital leadership. Went well and I appreciate Jimmy giving us the opportunity to show what we can do.

Not much else occured for the rest of the exercise and we terminated our links to Screven County and Wayne Memorial and shut down the station just after noon. Successful exercise.

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