Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feb 9, 2011 Statewide Tornado Drill Summary

Members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) participated in the Statewide Tornado Drill on Wed. Feb 9th as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Georgia. Amateur Radio Operators in Chatham and surrounding counties exercised the ability to provide backup communications support in the region and across the state in the event that primary forms of communication are interrupted by severe weather events such as tornadoes. Amateur Radio Operators are trained and equipped to provide various forms of communications in emergency situations and without the use of the primary electrical grid.

On Wednesday morning local operators sprung into action to practice this capability. A Network Control Station was established at the Savannah Chapter of the American Red Cross which was manned by Guy McDonald, K4GTM who is the District Emergency Coordinator for the ARES program in Southeast Georgia. Guy was assisted by Kenny, KJ4YPP who was participating in his first drill. Guy and Kenny arrived at the Red Cross chapter around 7:45am and got the amateur radio station connected up and tested in preparation for the drill. Meanwhile, Steve Jonas, K4SDJ was setting up the radio station at the Chatham Emergency Management Agency EOC. Steve provided communications support for CEMA during the drill.

The statewide ARES Net got started around 8:30am on our primary statewide HF frequency of 3.975 MHz. Charles Pennington, K4GK who is located in Sandersville was the Net Control Station and began taking checkins from radio operators across the state of Georgia. We established communications with him from both the Red Cross and CEMA stations as well as other stations across the county. I relayed in the stations at Candler Hospital and Evans County EOC.

We convened our local area net on our primary ARES frequency of 146.970 around 8:45am and establish contact with 21 operators in Chatham and six surrounding counties. We had radio operators positioned at several of our served agencies including CEMA, Savannah Red Cross, Candler Hospital, Liberty County EOC, and Evans County EOC. As each radio operator checked in they provided their name, call sign, location, and a report as to whether they heard the warning sirens from their location in the county. The tornado drill was complete by 9:30 and the Local Net was closed at 9:42am.

We were also able to establish communication back to Atlanta from CEMA and the Red Cross Chapter via the D-Star Digital Repeater System located at the WVAN site in Pembroke.

This was a very successful and productive drill for us in Coastal Georgia as well as for HAMs all across the state. Charles, K4GK reports the following:

"The “Tornado Drill” on February 8 was supported by the ARES net with K4GK as net control. The event started with 2 NWS offices as well as the SOC (State Operations Center), 24 county EOC’s and 17 hospitals or public health agencies were represented. Three hundred forty two stations checked in, mostly from all across Georgia. Agencies with liaisons for the drill included Military Affiliate Radio Systems (MARS), Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and Georgia State Patrol. Total ARES man hours of 684."

So, once again the Amateur Radio Emergency Service proves that we are ready to provide a far reaching network of operators ready to support the backup communications needs of our served agencies.

Special recognition to the following local area operators that participated in the drill.

K4SDJ – CEMA EOC, AEC Chatham County
K4GTM – Savannah Red Cross, DEC Southeast District
KJ4YPP – Savannah Red Cross
WN4Q – Swainsboro, ADEC Augusta Public Health
KJ4VIG – Evans County EOC
N2DRL – Liberty County EOC
KW4B – Candler Hospital
N4VAD – South Bryan County. MARS Liaison
WA0CGZ – Long County
W4REQ – Chatham County
KF4JBQ – Chatham County
KI4TYO – Effingham County, AEC
KC4MKD – North Bryan County
KJ4PTP – Port Wentworth
KJ4YPM – Liberty County
KJ4FAW – Effingham County
KC2NYU – Skidaway Island
KJ4FAV – Savannah River area
KF4LMT – Bacon Park, ADEC Georgia State Patrol
NT6H – Savannah Airport, Effingham County EC
KT4RW – Garden City
KJ4BSM – Beaufort County, SC

No comments: