Feb 8, 2012 Chatham County ARES Tornado Drill Summary
The Chatham County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) team activated in support of the statewide tornado drill on Feb 8th. We established a local VHF net using the 146.970 repeater located at the WJCL antenna site. We established a backup plan to use the 147.330 repeater located on the WSAV antenna site located on Victory Dr.
At 0900 we began taking checkins from around the Chatham County area. We had 15 amateur radio operators report on the net. We had representatives from Chatham, Effingham, Bullock, Bryan, Liberty, and Long counties join the local net.
As each of these stations checked in they reported their callsign, name, location, and whether they heard the warning sirens from their location. Several also reported that they received the alert via NOAA weather radio, Comcast cable interruption, CEMA email and Facebook alerts, etc.
We also established VHF contact with the Liberty County EOC via the ARES team in Hinesville using the 145.470 repeater located in Riceboro. Liberty County also established a local VHF net and reported seven check ins including the Fort Stewart EOC.
Statewide communications was also established using the digital voice mode known as D-Star. D-Star is a network of digital VHF and UHF repeaters located a various Georgia Public Broadcasting site throughout the state. These radio repeaters are linked to one another via a virtual private network allowing VHF communication (normally limited to short range) across the entire state and beyond. We communicated via the KJ4GGV repeater in Pembroke located at the WVAN antenna site and were able to be a part of the net that included GEMA, NWS Peachtree City, and others.
We also joined the statewide ARES Net via HF on 3.975 MHz. Operators all across the state joined this net and provided us with real time radio communications with GEMA, NWS, County EOCs, Regional Hospitals, etc. Using HF frequencies allowed for communication totally independent of any infrastructure such as towers, commercial power, internet connectivity, etc. Estimate of total statewide amateur radio operators on the net is 150 representing 129 counties.
We terminated the ARES Net and our participation in the drill at 0935.
Guy McDonald, K4GTM
SE District Emergency Coordinator
Amateur Radio Emergency Service